Carpal tunnel syndrome has been a major issue that I have been dealing with for 26 years. And due to our excessive “wired” lifestyle, I believe the condition is becoming more prevalent.True carpal tunnel is a condition where you have a compressive peripheral neuropathy of the median nerve. Compression of the median nerve causes numbness, burning, and tingling of the first three fingers. The ability of the hand to grasp things is often impaired as well. I had a dentist in my practice who was scheduled for bilateral carpal tunnel surgery because of his inability to hold his tools safely. After nine sessions and two more for good measure, he was no longer afflicted by this debilitating syndrome. I told him the value of coming in on a monthly basis to keep himself “running smoothly” but alas, he didn’t and two years later was afflicted yet again. I had told him it would only cost him the same amount for my services as a 20 minute tooth filling. It seemed like a value he could certainly afford but, the old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” falls mostly on deaf ears these days!
In 26 years of practice I have been very lucky to have no one need the splinting, the surgical procedure or the steroid injections, when they committed totally to the Rolfing process! It is easy to say without a long anatomical explanation, can understand how the the median nerve which extends over several joints can produce enough neural and intra-neural tension by the constant adjustments that the nerve manages so many grande range of motions for our hands by virtue of the connective tissues. The vitality of the nerve is totally dependent on proper blood flow which allows all the metabolic processes to function in a healthy manner. Of utmost importance for success in dealing with this challenge, is to work above and below the carpal tunnel. I use the analogy of drip irrigation system in gardening as an example for my patients. If there is a restricted flow of water to any of the beds, they dry up and no longer flourish. So, not unlike our vegetable garden, our nerves must flow as unimpeded as possible so that the waste material of the metabolic processes can be removed and nourishment brought back to replenish the system. Oftentimes my patients are surprised to know that the neck work I am employing is potentially the most important aspect of the work to reduce the inflammation in the carpal tunnel! So when I treat repetitive stress/carpal tunnel, I treat the tissue, the nerve, and the cervical spine.
Before the big trouble begins with carpal tunnel/repetitive stress syndrome, there will be warning signs. Tingling is the first to appear on the horizon. That can also be accompanied by numbness. Then grip strength usually rears its ugly head. The thumb maybe the first to display any of the above signs. If you are observant of your own anatomy you might see the carpal bone area shorten and the hand narrow a wee bit. Do you lean your forearms against the table putting a great deal of stress on the tissue? Is your neck held in a strange position(unnatural) four hours at length? Does your work require a tight grip on tools? Rolfers have a good foundation for educating their clients on how to prevent carpal tunnel. With keyboard usage so vast in the workplace, it is a shame that more employers don’t hire a Rolfer to come to their offices to prevent the painful onset of a condition that can not only create a loss of revenue for the company, but create emotional as well as physical pain to their employees due to the loss of work.
For those of you who do bodywork, the protocol is fully covered in the DVD on Repetitive Stress.