January/February 2001 Alternative Health
by Todd Pennington
Think of your arms and hands for a second, do they ache or say
no to working? Do you want to wear a wrist brace? Can you bring
your hand back almost 90 degrees (right angle)? Can you bend it
forward 90 degrees (right angle)? Can you extend your arm straight
out (no bend at the elbow)? If you said no to any of these questions
then you have movement restriction of the wrist or arm. The most
common remedy is to live with it. The result is that in time movement
is restricted and is normally accompanied by pain. In seeking help
for it doctors will push surgery. Surgery has its own pain and frequently
does not take care of all the problem. In a great many cases the
arm and wrist pain can be released quickly by a massage therapist
who knows how to relax the muscles that control the arm.
A standard test for carpal tunnel problems is to put your hands
together, palm to palm. Now keeping the palms together (hands straight
up) bring the arms up level with the ground. If you have to bring
the palms apart to do this then that indicates a problem. Now reverse
your hands. Hands straight down back to back and then bring the
arms straight out. Again if you have to bring the hands apart it
indicates problems in the wrist.
"Even if you have been told that nothing can be done about
your pain, there can be hope of change. If the problem is due to
muscle tightness then Control Muscle Release Therapy is likely to
help. Frequently this improvement can last for weeks to years. To
have long term results, the entire system must be relaxed and not
just a part of it."
There are many things that contribute to causing wrist pain. Any
repetitive action such as computer work can cause or aggravate the
problem. Any time that you leave a task and hold onto the tension
from it, you continue to tighten your chest and neck. This pulls
the head forward and rotates the shoulders forward. Over time the
muscles that control the head and shoulders start holding them in
place. The head moves forward. The arms rotate inward and muscles
down into the wrist tighten. The muscles shorten and fatten as they
go through the carpal tunnel and cause pressure on the medial nerve
as it goes through the carpal tunnel.
Many people get told they have carpal tunnel problems when it
is the neck that is the real problem. The nerves for the arm come
out of the spine in the middle of the neck. This is a very common
place for the neck to have muscles forcing the vertebra out of position.
This pinches the nerve and can cause problems for the arm that frequently
can be called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In many cases this can be
relieved by releasing the muscles that control the neck.
Check your neck. Put your hand to the back of your neck. The neck
is supposed to have a gentle curve front to back as you move your
hand up and down the neck. If the shape of your neck moves forward
abruptly then it can pinch the nerve for the arm. If you have a
flat area (almost no front to back curve) in the neck it can be
an area that pinches the nerve in a different way. This can cause
pain in the shoulder, arm and wrist. In either case, relax the muscles
and the vertebra can move into more comfortable positions. When
the muscles relax it releases the pressure on the nerves for the
The Problem is that nerves are being pinched. This is caused by
muscles being so tight that the nerve is pinched or that special
cells in the wrist send danger signals to the brain. In either case
the brain interprets it as "STOP Don't do (what ever action
you were doing)". Keeping the problem or correcting with surgery
are options, not requirements. There is another way.
Each muscle that moves the arm, wrist and hand is capable of restricting
the motion of the wrist. Thus, each of these muscles needs to be
considered in releasing the wrist pain. As the muscles release,
the wrist can move more and is less likely to be painful.
The key is to know the muscles and how each can impact wrist pain.
It is also critical to know several ways to relax each muscle. One
of the most important things is to know how relaxing muscles at
another location can relax the entire region. The standard methods
that most therapists use, do not release the muscles that can cause
the problem. The problem is frequently not at the location of the
- Hand: Each muscle in the hand needs to be checked to
find any problem in the hand itself. Most of the movement with
in the hand is controlled by muscles that come from the forearm.
- Wrist: The muscles for the thumb tighten so much that
they become restrictive to moving the wrist. The area around the
thumb can be worked, this means the entire area and not just the
center of the webbing. (This can start releasing muscles in such
a way that it effect muscles all the way up to the scalp. It also
helps relieve headaches.) Working this area helps a lot, but it
is not the most productive to relaxing the whole wrist.
- Forearm: There are many muscles in the forearm that pull
the thumb toward the elbow. Others control additional motions
of the wrist and hand. When these are tight the muscles can prevent
the wrist from being able to move the normal full range of motion.
- Upper Arm: Muscles in this area control the position
of the elbow and the flexibility of the whole arm. Most of this
area is controlled by the shoulder, upper pectoral area and below
the arm pit.
- Shoulder Region: This area controls much of what happens
for the entire arm and wrist. Some of the easiest ways of releasing
the wrist start here.
- Neck: This area will force the entire arm and chest.
Relaxing muscles that control the motion of the neck can be the
most important work to release wrist pain in some people.
- Conclusion: It is important to release each area that
can control the wrist. If even one muscle is left tight it increases
the chances for wrist pain to return.
Control Muscle Release Therapy looks at the muscles that control
bone and muscles at a distance. The goal is to release the structure
easily and gently. The easiest way to release the whole body is
to relax the key regions of the body.
I work on all the issues that I have talked about. For more information
on this and many other subjects call and request articles that I
have written or go to www.penningtonmassage.com
on the internet. If you have one or more of the issues and want
to make changes, call and schedule an appointment.
Take care of your body now and it will help to take care of you
For more information or an appointment call Todd Pennington,
LMT 10175 SW Barbur Suite 306 Portland OR 97219 (503) 244-4427