Patients diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome experienced significant improvements when they combined two interventions: wearing a splint and giving themselves a three-minute hand massage most days.

The study, “Reliability and efficacy of the new massage technique on the treatment in the patients with carpal tunnel syndrome,” involved 80 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, ranging in age from 31 to 65.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group I was the splint and massage group; Group II was the splint-only group. Participants in both groups were instructed to perform tendon-and-nerve gliding exercises, and they were given analgesic drugs as needed.

Participants in both groups were asked to wear a wrist-hand resting splint when they went to sleep at night for a total of six months. According to the study’s authors, this device works to keep the wrist in a neutral position during zero to 15 degrees extension.

Subjects in Group I not only wore the splint each night, but they were also instructed to apply the “Madenci” hand massage technique (MHMT) to themselves for six weeks.

This self-massage routine takes a total of three minutes, starting with 30 seconds of effleurage, followed by 60 seconds of friction, 30 seconds of petrissage, 30 seconds of shaking and a final 30 seconds of effleurage.

A physical therapy and rehabilitation physician taught those in Group I to use this technique. Follow-up sessions allowed the physician to supervise and correct the subjects as necessary. In addition, participants were given a CD with a visual guide to the MHMT.

Outcome measures for this study included pain levels, evaluated using both the Patient Global Assessment (PGA) and the Physician Global Assessment (MDPGA), along with grip strength, which was measured on a Jamar Hand Dynamometer.

Results of the research showed that subjects in both groups experienced a significant decrease in pain levels, as assessed on both the PGA and the MDPGA, along with a significant increase in grip strength. However, when comparing the results for both groups, the improvements among subjects in Group I were significantly greater than the improvements of subjects in Group II.

“We aimed to bring a more understandable and applicable technique to the literature instead of ‘massage therapy’ in [carpal tunnel syndrome],” state the study’s authors. “In brief, MHMT is a non-invasive, cheap and easily applicable treatment option with high patient compliance.”

Authors: Ercan Madenci, Ozlem Altindag, Irfan Koca, Mustafa Yilmaz and Ali Gur.

Sources: Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Gaziantep University, Gaziantep, Turkey. Originally published online in Rheumatology International (Sept. 28, 2011).