massage for carpal tunnel

More and more people are getting carpal tunnel working from home at their kitchen islands, dinner tables, or even the couch due to our new remote office lifestyles. I think that these less structured “desk jobs” have changed life for so many people around the world. We even seem to move around less than we would with normal human interactions at work. The new work culture seems to have become your home culture. There is no one to look out for us or inspire us, as your coworkers can’t really see that you are hunched or sitting on one hip all day. We unconsciously lose motivation when others are not around us. It’s kind of like playing team sports virtually, we don’t really up our game. 

At this point we have seen a rise in people coming in with numbness or tingling in their hands, having some weakness with grasping or carrying things, or are just simply having hand pain, it is highly possible that you are suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS.  This frustrating problem is most frequently caused by poor positioning at your computer with repetitive motion and overextension of the wrist causing a swelling of the tendons in your wrist and putting pressure on the median nerve (the key nerve to your hand).  You do not have to work at a computer to get carpal tunnel and other small muscle and nerve injuries. And while excessive extension of the wrist may be the most probable cause, other factors can also contribute such as heredity, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. However, the good news is that massage can help. 

Many massage treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can offer help, but you must get in as soon as possible to begin the process. Steroids and mild anti-inflammatory medications can provide temporary relief of symptoms, but also come with side effects.  A wrist splint can be a helpful tool to limit movement or prevent you from hurting yourself during sleep, but it can also increase swelling and make the problem worse. Doctors frequently prescribe surgery to patients with this type of muscle and nerve pain, but this is by far the most invasive and expensive treatment. For surgeries, you need to consider time off work. Even for those who report success after surgery, there is no guarantee that the relief will last. The most cost and time-effective approach is advanced massage therapy techniques combining several different types of massage. 

Many people may not have considered that massage therapy is a powerful and effective choice for treating any type of hand pain.  Compared to other treatments, massage is an affordable and non-invasive way of relieving your symptoms and can offer long-term benefits when utilized. You may need a few massage therapy treatments in the beginning but then you will graduate to every few weeks or one massage a month or less for maintenance.

An experienced massage therapist can address the inflammation caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and reduce the pressure on the median nerve as well as any contributing adhesions in the lower arm. Massage therapists do this by using a combination of deep tissue work, myofascial release, and nerve gliding (nerve flossing) that is blended with trigger point, structural integration, and neuromuscular therapy.  Your therapist will carefully stretch the connective adhesions and inflamed connective tissue to decompress the nerve and relieve those symptoms of pain, numbness, and tingling – all without surgery.

While some of the focus may be on the forearm, hand, and wrist area, other connected structures like the upper arm, shoulder, and cervical region are crucial in a therapist’s goal of breaking down adhesions and reducing the friction on the inflamed muscles so that you can move your wrist easily. Your therapist may also work on your pectoral and subscapular muscles to free up the medial rotation of your shoulder. This is also where myofascial release is utilized to make a long-term change. 

Most patients will experience some relief almost immediately after their massage to treat CTS.  While this quick improvement is encouraging, typically it will take three to five sessions to get longer-term results once secondary and tertiary reasons for hand pain and weakness are addressed.

If you have been suffering from these symptoms, our expert massage therapists at East Bridge Massage can help you eliminate pain and numbness and regain range of motion as well as strength. Call us right away to reduce your pain – we’re here for you, seven days a week.

Clare Katner

Clare Katner


For over twenty years, Clare Katner has been an intuitive and holistic facilitator of healing. A licensed massage therapist since 1995 and a certified hypnotherapist since 1998, her professional scope is truly mind-body, and her long-term enjoyment of this work comes from witnessing transformation in her client’s lives.A graduate of Indiana University with a bachelor’s of science degree in education, Clare quickly developed a massage practice fusing her interest in teaching with her love of bodywork and has become a teacher and mentor to other massage therapists. She is a founder and owner of her dream clinic, East Bridge Massage. 503-314-9297