Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressively painful condition that causes numbness and tingling in the thumb and middle fingers. Traditional treatments for carpal tunnel range from a wrist brace to surgery. However, a recent study found that carpal tunnel patients receiving massage reported significantly less pain, reduced symptoms and improved grip strength than those patients who did not receive massage.
"Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are lessened following massage therapy" was conducted by staff at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, tingling, burning and numbness of the hand. Sixteen people diagnosed with this syndrome participated in the study. All of them held jobs involving heavy word processing or computer work.
Subjects were randomly assigned to either the standard-treatment control group or the massage-therapy group. Those in the massage group received one massage per week on the affected arm for four weeks. They were also instructed in self-massage, which they were to perform each night before bed.
Subjects in the control group received no intervention, but were taught the massage routine after the study ended.
Physicians evaluated participants' carpal tunnel symptoms, such as tingling, numbness, pain and strength, at the beginning and end of the four-week study:
Results of the study showed that the subjects in the massage group had significantly less pain and reduced carpal tunnel symptoms, as well as shorter median peak latencies and increased grip strength.
"Functional activity also improved as noted in reduced pain and increased grip strength in the massage therapy group, both immediately after the first and last massage therapy sessions and by the end of the study," state the study's authors. "Finally, the massage therapy group reported lower anxiety and depressed mood levels both immediately after the first and last sessions and by the end of the study."
- Source: Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. Authors: Tiffany Field, Ph.D.; Miguel Diego; Christy Cullen; Kristin Hartshorn; Alan Gruskin; Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D.; and William Sunshine. Originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2004, Vol. 8, pp. 9-14.