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  • Writer's pictureCelisa Ellis

Understanding and Alleviating Carpal and Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

As a massage therapist, I have encountered numerous clients struggling with various musculoskeletal issues, and two of the common conditions that often come up are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS). Both of these syndromes involve compression of nerves within confined spaces, leading to pain, tingling, and weakness. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of CTS and TTS from a massage therapists perspective and explore how massage therapy can be a valuable tool in managing and alleviating these conditions.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

CTS primary affects the hand and wrist, causing pain, numbness, and tingling. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm, becomes compressed at the carpal tunnel - a narrow passageway on the pal side of the wrist. Massage therapy can be beneficial in several ways for individuals dealing with CTS.


  • Muscles Release: Muscle release techniques can help address tightness and restrictions in the fascia surrounding the muscles and nerves in the affected area. By applying sustained pressure and gentle stretching, massage therapists can release the tension and improve the mobility of soft tissues.

  • Trigger Point Therapy: Trigger points can contribute to the compression of the median nerve in CTS. Targeted trigger point therapy can release these knots, reducing pain and restoring proper muscle function.

  • Stretching and Mobilization: Massage therapists can guide clients through specific stretches and mobilization exercises to improve flexibility and reduce strain on the wrist and hand muscles. This can contribute to long-term relief and prevent further exacerbation of symptoms.


Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS)

TTS is akin to CTS but affects the ankle and foot. It occurs when the posterior tibial nerve, which runs through the tarsal tunnel - a narrow space on the inside of the ankle - becomes compressed. Massage therapy intervention for TTS share similarities with those for CTS.


  • Soft Tissue Manipulation: Massage therapist can employ techniques to release tension in the muscles and connective tissues around the tarsal tunnel. This can alleviate pressure on the posterior tibial nerve and reduce symptoms.

  • Foot Reflexology: Reflexology, a form of massage that involves applying pressure to specific points on the feet, may help improve circulation and nerve function in the affected areas. This can contribute to the overall well-being of individuals with TTS.

  • Postural Assessment and Correction: Massage therapists can assess the client's posture and identify any imbalances that may contribute to the TTS. Through targeted massage and postural correction exercises, therapists can help clients improve their biomechanics and reduce stress on the tarsal tunnel.


While massage therapy cannot cure Carpal and Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, it can play a crucial role in managing symptoms and improving the overall quality of life for individuals dealing with these conditions. Collaborative efforts between massage therapists, healthcare professionals, and clients can create comprehensive and effective strategies for alleviating pain, enhancing mobility, and promoting long-term well-being. If you are experiencing symptoms of CTS or TTS, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan, which may include massage therapy as a complementary approach.

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