As defined by the Medical Dictionary for Health Professions and Nursing, Farlex 2012, Carpal Tunnel is:
The passageway deep to the transverse carpal ligament between tubercles of the scaphoid and trapezoid bones on the radial side and the pisiform and hook of the hamate on the ulnar side, through which the median nerve and the flexor tendons of the fingers and thumb pass.
I know what you are thinking…..No, I have carpal tunnel! Yes you do; however you are most likely referring to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I.e. pain, numbness, tingle in hand/fingers/thumb, and loss/decrease grip.. Yes?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is caused from repetitive/overuse activities. Those of us affected; Admins, Dentists, Surgeons, Massage Therapists, anyone who uses a computer all day, sleeping with wrist in flexed position. These overuse activities cause muscles in the forearm and hand to become overly tightened which may compress the Median Nerve. Resulting in the pain, numbness, tingle, in hand/fingers/thumb, and loss/decrease grip.
The muscles directly involved with CTS are the Flexor group (think non-hairy side of forearm), small muscles of the hand, muscles along side the thumb which is known as Thenar Eminence. Once these areas remain in an overly tighten position, the Median and sometimes Ulnar Nerve become compressed which will result in above symptoms.
What can be done to help alleviate symptoms? Massage, splints at night, rest and stretches, and NSAIDS (as directed by your physician). As a Massage Therapist that suffers from CTS in both hands, I have increased my rest time between clients, stretch-stretch-stretch, and get work on my forearms weekly. Have also added wrist splints at night as well.
Massage is great for CTS. It targets the muscles in the forearm which allows them to relax and allow blood flow. This will allow edema to decrease in the tunnel which will result in decrease of symptoms. Like any overuse/repetitive activity, daily work is a necessity for long term symptom management.