Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Relieve Hand and Wrist Discomfort

Understanding the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Massage 23rd Jul, 2023

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a frequent disorder characterized by nerve irritation or entrapment within the anterior wrist’s carpal tunnel.

It produces symptoms such as hand discomfort, numbness, tingling, difficulty holding items, and occasionally hand pain. Some people also claim that the discomfort intensifies in the evening, causing them to sleep poorly. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is frequently caused by repeated motion, such as extended computer usage or repetitive labor on assembly lines.

sign for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Other variables, such as heredity, smaller carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, can also contribute to its development.

Exercises and Massage Methods to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The discomfort, stiffness, numbness, and tingling linked to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be effectively treated with massage and exercise. Without the need for drugs or surgery, these methods frequently offer relief. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) does not expressly support massage treatment for CTS, although new study points to its potential advantages for people with mild to moderate symptoms. However, the AAOS does support a few workouts that may be done safely at home.

In the office, computer and wrist or carpal tunnel discomfort with a keyboard and gadget.

This article will discuss several massage methods and physical activities that may be used to complement a thorough treatment program and assist relieve the signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.


The Power of Hand Massage

Techniques for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Massage

A common recommendation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatment is massage therapy. Although two hands are preferred for these techniques, a qualified partner can help with the massage. Myofascial release and trigger point treatment are two massage modalities that are frequently utilized for CTS.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a specific type of massage that focuses on relaxing the tendons in the wrist and reducing pressure on the median nerve. This technique involves kneading the tissues to break up adhesions in the wrist and forearms. It consists of several movements:

  • Effleurage: Light circular strokes with the palm of the hand to increase blood flow and prepare the forearm and wrist for a deeper massage.
  • Friction: Applying sustained pressure to the base of the wrist with both thumbs and gliding the thumbs toward the elbow to break up any adhesions.
  • Petrissage: skin-rolling, kneading, wringing, and to stretch and relax tight muscles, use deep squeezing actions.
  • Shaking: Arms are shaking and loosen and relax the muscles.

A typical myofascial release session involves repeating these movements in sets, with each set lasting about 15 minutes.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger points are hypersensitive bands of taut muscles that can cause referred pain in other parts of the body. In Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, trigger points are often located at specific areas of the arm, including:

  • Four centimeters (2 inches) below the crease of the elbow on the top of the forearm.
  • Four centimeters (2 inches) above the crease of the wrist on the underside of the forearm.
  • Two centimeters (1 inch) below the crease of the wrist at the base of the thumb.

Trigger point therapy involves locating these trigger points and applying firm pressure with the thumb for 20 to 30 seconds before releasing. The surrounding tissues are then stretched and massaged. This therapy is usually performed by a physical therapist who knows the precise location of the trigger points.

Nerve-Gliding Exercise for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Exercises, which promote a greater range of motion and stretch the median nerve, can help relieve the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in addition to massage treatments. The median nerve itself is the focus of an activity known as nerve gliding. It includes moving the hand through six postures, holding each for five seconds, and may be done at home:

Woman's hand massage to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

1. Clench your hand into a fist with your palm facing down in a neutral position.

2. Extend your fingers straight, keeping your thumb in line with your fingers.

3. Extend your wrist back as if signaling someone to “stop.”

4. Move your thumb to the side as far as it can go.

5. Rotate your palm toward the ceiling.

6. Use your other hand to gently pull the thumb toward the ground.

Repeat these six positions for a total of five sets.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a disorder characterized by nerve irritation or entrapment within the wrist’s carpal tunnel. Myofascial release and trigger point treatment, as well as nerve-gliding exercises, can help relieve the discomfort, numbness, and tingling associated with CTS. For an accurate diagnosis and to build an appropriate treatment plan that may involve these approaches, it is critical to speak with a healthcare expert.

Benefits of Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Massage treatment can provide various advantages to those suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). While the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) does not officially approve massage treatment for CTS, evidence shows that it may benefit patients with mild to moderate symptoms. Here are some potential massage advantages for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

1. Pain relief

Massage techniques like myofascial release and trigger point therapy can help alleviate pain associated with CTS. By relaxing the tendons in the wrist and reducing pressure on the median nerve, massage can provide relief and improve overall comfort.

2. Improved blood circulation

Massage enhances blood flow to the afflicted region, improving oxygen and nutrition delivery while enabling waste elimination. This increased circulation may aid in the healing process and minimize inflammation.

3. Reduced muscle tension

Massage techniques help release muscle tension in the forearms and wrists, which can contribute to CTS symptoms. By loosening tight muscles and reducing muscle spasms, massage can alleviate discomfort and improve range of motion.

4. Enhanced flexibility and range of motion

Massage techniques like petrissage involve kneading, wringing, and deep squeezing movements that stretch and loosen tight muscles. By improving flexibility and range of motion in the wrists and forearms, massage can enhance hand function and reduce limitations caused by CTS.

5. Relaxation and stress reduction

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can cause significant stress and discomfort. Massage therapy provides a relaxing and calming experience, promoting a sense of well-being and reducing stress levels. This relaxation response can help alleviate tension and improve overall quality of life.

6. Non-invasive and drug-free

Massage therapy offers a non-invasive and drug-free approach to managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Unlike surgical interventions or medications, massage has minimal risks and side effects, making it a safe and accessible option for individuals seeking relief from CTS symptoms.

7. Complementary treatment option

Massage therapy can be used alongside other treatments for CTS, such as splinting, physical therapy, or lifestyle modifications. Integrating massage into a comprehensive treatment plan can provide synergistic benefits and enhance overall therapeutic outcomes.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of massage therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can vary among individuals. Consulting with a qualified massage therapist or healthcare professional experienced in treating CTS can help determine the most suitable approach and ensure the best possible results.


Percussion Massage Therapy


Is it OK to massage carpal tunnel?

Yes, gentle massage can help alleviate symptoms, but it’s crucial to approach with caution and consult a therapist familiar with the condition.

What type of massage is best for carpal tunnel?

Neuromuscular and myofascial release massages can be effective in treating carpal tunnel symptoms.

How do you massage yourself for carpal tunnel?

Gently rub the center of your wrist, applying mild pressure, and work your way towards the base of the palm and fingers.

Where is the pressure point for carpal tunnel?

The primary point is in the center of the wrist, where the median nerve is located.

What triggers carpal tunnel?

Repetitive hand motions, wrist injuries, and certain health conditions can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Bottom Line

Massage therapy can be a beneficial and non-invasive approach for managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). While the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) does not officially endorse massage therapy for CTS, research suggests that it may improve outcomes in individuals with mild to moderate symptoms.

The various massage techniques, such as myofascial release and trigger point therapy, offer specific benefits that can alleviate pain, reduce muscle tension, improve flexibility, enhance blood circulation, promote relaxation, and serve as a complementary treatment option. By targeting the affected muscles, tendons, and nerves in the wrists and forearms, massage therapy can help relieve the pain, numbness, and tingling sensations associated with CTS.

Through the manipulation of soft tissues, massage techniques can relax tight muscles, release trigger points, and reduce inflammation, leading to improved range of motion and hand function. Additionally, the relaxation response induced by massage therapy can contribute to stress reduction and enhance overall well-being.


[1]  4 Massage Techniques For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, retrieved from published on December 28, 20222, Access July 10, 2023

[2]  The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS)  Access July 10, 2023

[3] Massage & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome retrieved from published on March 7, 2014, Access July 10, 2023


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