Treating Carpal Tunnel & Other Repetitive Injuries by Julie Donnelly, LMT & Zev Cohen, MD

You strive to be your very best at everything you do, whether at work, at home or while exercising. You’re careful with your diet and you try to gain a balance between work and relaxation. Yet, you may experience chronic pain from sports injuries or many other repetitive activities you engage in at home or at work. In the case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it begins with numbness and pain in the wrist and hands.

Treating repetitive stress conditions (RSI) can be challenging, with pain killers having harmful side-effects, physical therapy only providing temporary relief and surgery for some conditions, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, being questionable. But now, a paradigm shift is occurring in treatment for such conditions. We now know that muscle spasms play a key role in both pain and joint mobility and that repetitive motion causes muscle spasms at specific muscle locations known as “trigger points.” Proper techniques for rubbing these trigger points can completely restore the muscle to a pain-free healthy state. Hundreds of patients, including concert pianists, dancers, triathletes and people from all walks of life, are dramatically helped and have high recovery rates. Caregivers are looking at the cause of repetitive stress pain, not the symptoms. This means that treatment techniques can be used to correct the core imbalance on a regular basis, not merely mask the pain or treat it with invasive surgery.

Most people aren't familiar with how their muscles work and why a spasm in one area can cause pain in a location that may be far from the source of the problem. While it seems incredible that a simple thing like a spasm can cause so much trouble, it's easy to understand when you take a close look at the body. The only way a joint can move is when a muscle pulls on it, and therein lies the problem. The muscle originates on one bone, crosses over a joint and inserts onto another bone. When a muscle contracts, it pulls the insertion point toward the origination point, and the joint bends.

The problem of referred pain is easily understood by using the simple analogy of visualizing pulling your hair at the end. You don't feel it at the end where you are pulling, but you do feel it on the scalp where it inserts. Likewise, you rarely feel the pain in the part of the muscle that is being pulled, but you do feel it at the insertion.
Another factor in a contracted muscle is that shortening causes it to lose strength. This is the reason why a person may believe he is getting weaker over time. Muscle fibers need to be at their longest length in order to have the pulling power necessary to complete any given task. When the fibers are shortened they lose strength. Stretching is important but first the spasm must be released or the "knot" in the muscle will prevent the fiber from returning to its proper length.

Using our new understanding of the role muscles play in joint pain, how can one be successfully treated? There are three keys to eliminate the tension a spasm places on the muscular insertion point of a bone: 1. Locate the most painful point in the muscle. This is the area where the tendon attaches to the bone. 2. Maintain deep pressure on the point for 60 seconds. Pressure directly on the muscle spasm will flush out toxins and stretch the muscle fibers. When the pressure is released, the body will fill the void in the muscle with nourishing blood. 3. Stretches are most effective after the muscle spasms have released their strain on the tendon and bone.

Our work with clients has included developing a self-treatment system that allows individuals to locate trigger points quickly and practice specific massage techniques for different types of muscle areas. The system allows one to both treat painful conditions when present and prevent a recurrence of the condition with occasional use of the technique. We have taught thousands of people to treat themselves. Once they understand the simple system, they are able in almost all cases to resume normal activities again and be pain-free. It empowers them to have better control their health.

With the active lifestyles of many individuals at risk from repetitive stress conditions, the use of simple self-treatment techniques, guided by the Trigger-Point system, can provide greater range-of-motion and enhanced performance. Maintaining healthy muscle tone will reward you with greater strength and flexibility!

Julie Donnelly, LMT and Zev Cohen, M.D. are Co-Directors of the Carpal Tunnel Treatment Center in Nanuet, New York. They teach health seminars nationwide and recently co-authored "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome...What You Don't Know Can Hurt You," and the "Pain-Free Triathlete." For more info, contact: Carpal Tunnel Treatment Center, julie@aboutcts.com, www.aboutcts.com; 845-627-7035.