Reflexology and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: How This Alternative Therapy Can Help

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Treating Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of repetitive strain injury. Often found in people who use their hands on a daily basis, such as musicians, writers, factory workers and construction workers, carpal tunnel is painful and very serious. If left untreated it can result in muscle atrophy. The pain can also be difficult to live with, making using the hand for everyday activities such as typing, cooking and driving very challenging and uncomfortable.

Carpal tunnel manifests at first as a tingling and numbness in the fingers, hand and wrist. Poor grip, swelling, mild to severe pain and muscle atrophy are also characteristic of the disease. What causes these symptoms is the compression or damage of the median nerve, which controls thumb muscles and sensation in the thumb, palm and first three fingers. The median nerve travels from the forearm to the hand via the wrist. It is encased in what is known as the carpal tunnel. Continued stress to this area, water retention, nutritional deficiencies and arthritis can all contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Reflexology is not a primary treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome but it is a useful and often effective complementary therapy. It is important to keep in mind that although reflexology and carpal tunnel are well-suited, it is still necessary to see your doctor about this repetitive strain injury. Through self-care or visits with an experienced reflexologist, this form of alternative medicine can be a source of relief and improved healing. It is not however a cure or a substitute for regular medical care.

How Reflexology Is Beneficial

Reflexology involves the activation of reflex points found on the hands and feet with applied pressure and massage. These reflex points are connected to the meridian system, which is a set of pathways connecting all parts of the body, much like the circulatory system, except the meridian system exists as subtle energy rather then physical matter. A reflex point on the hand or foot corresponds to an organ or area of the body. Stimulating these points increases energy flow and allows for healing.

For carpal tunnel syndrome, hand reflexology can be used to relieve pain and relax the problem area. By stimulating the flow of energy, it can also facilitate the body’s own healing process. This does not mean that reflexology can cure carpal tunnel, only that it may serve to reduce symptoms and possibly assist the healing process. There are specific reflex points along the hand which can bring relief. Massaging the entire palm of the hand can also help.

Tips for Self-Care

It is possible to use reflexology for pain relief at home. One technique is to use the thumb to massage the entire palm of the hand. Hold the back of the hand with the fingers and apply pressure with the thumb throughout the surface of the palm. Use a ‘rolling motion,’ bending the tip of the thumb into the palm, slowly moving downward. Apply about fifteen pounds of pressure for ten seconds at a time. Take about five minutes to work each palm.

You can apply pressure with the thumb on the specific reflex points for the forearm. They are located at the center point between the base of the pinkie finger and the wrist, on the outer edge of the hand. You can also see a reflexologist for treatments. The benefit of seeing a trained professional is that their experience and knowledge of the workings of reflexology are likely to have a more profound healing effect.

As a form of complementary medicine, hand reflexology for carpal tunnel syndrome can bring safe, natural and effective relief. Being able to practice techniques at home is another benefit of using reflexology for pain relief. Regardless of how much your symptoms improve, be sure to still make an appointment with your doctor.


Flocco, Bill. “Hand Reflexology.” (Bottom Line Health),

Coad, Wendy. “Hand Reflexology and Carpal tunnel Syndrome.” (Reflexology Success),

Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).


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