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Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with ART

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Active Release Technique (ART)

You’re sitting at work, typing away and being the focused ninja that you are. Hours upon hours with no breaks and 100’s of tabs open on your computer as you sink into your chair when all of a sudden you feel a sharp tingle in your hands. It lasts a few seconds and goes away. You brush it off and go about your business, but then it happens again…and again. Each time, it lasts longer and you have to shake it off. What is that?! A quick google search and oh boy, could it be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common condition wherein you experience pain, numbness, or tingling in the hands and arms. This can happen bilaterally (in both hands) or unilaterally (into one). The carpal tunnel itself sits at the base of the wrist and is comprised of small wrist bones known as your carpal bones, tendons of the forearm muscles and a passageway for the median nerve. This nerve travels from the neck, through the muscles of the arm and into the hand where it supplies the thumb, index and middle finger.


Factors that can contribute to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

  • Repetitive movements of the hand
  • Excessive typing
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid Dysfunction
  • Trauma to the wrist or hand
  • Arthritis

Phew! Okay, that’s a lot of anatomy there, but essentially this tunnel is comprised of many structures that can get compressed, inflamed and/or damaged from repetitive movement (most commonly) and cause the pesky symptoms that so many people experience.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome diagnosed and treated?

It can be easy to buy a wrist brace and/or pop in some medication to help alleviate the pain you are experiencing, but these temporary band aids will not address the root cause of your CTS. That is why we learn to understand your health history, your body and your environment so that we can apply the right tools to help get you out of pain.

First and foremost, a neurological exam and orthopedic testing are conducted to help rule out a more serious case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Your exam will include testing sensory distribution along the arms, muscle strength and reflexes. Orthopedic testing will then be conducted for the cervical spine and specific tests linked to CTS.

Neurokinetic Therapy testing (muscle testing) is then done to provide your practitioner with more feedback as to which muscles are being overworked and need to be released and which are being underworked and require strength.

What is one great way to release tight and overworked muscles? Active Release Technique.

What is Active Release Technique (ART)?

Active Release Technique is a soft tissue method that can be utilized on specific muscles or muscle groups. Our muscles are linked by a connective tissue called fascia and when there is injury, strain, tightness or inflammation within the muscles, adhesions or scar tissue can build up within the connective tissue. Releasing this scar tissue can help alleviate you from symptoms such as numbness and tingling, increased range of motion, and decrease inflammation.

Other conditions that can be treated with ART:

Due to the specificity of the treatment, patients can find relief within one visit, but it may take more than one depending on how acute or chronic your condition may be. This technique requires precision and a high amount of tension to help release tight muscles which can make the treatment process somewhat uncomfortable. However, that is a small price to pay if you want to rid yourself of chronic aches and pains and get back to doing what you love.

UWC Case Study

A recent case seen in the clinic was a 38-year-old female with left forearm tightness and intermittent numbness and tingling into her hand. Her occupation required her to be working on a desktop for 12+ hours a day which led to minimal breaks at work, decreased sleep, tension headaches and poor posture. An avid strength trainer, she also had minimal time for exercise and proper nutrition as her workload increased. Neurokinetic Therapy testing found her flexor digitorum superficialis and flexor digitorum profundus muscles (two muscles that help the fingers of the hand bend) overworking for her pectoralis muscles on the left side. This is a compensation that can be found within the fascial lines of the arm.

Active Release Technique was utilized on the forearm muscles: flexor digitorum superficialis and flexor digitorum profundus and exercises to help strengthen the external rotators of the shoulder which also helped to improve overall posture. Breathing exercises were also provided to help promote proper posture, length into the cervical spine and diaphragmatic breathing all of which promoted proper biomechanics and less tension into the forearm muscles.

How else can you supplement Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatment?

Gaining the most benefit from your treatment with ART will also require some work on your end to help minimize symptoms and retrain the biomechanics of the body. Here are my favorite ways to support your treatment…


Intermittently icing your forearms or wrists can help cut down on inflammation.


A natural anti-inflammatory that can be taken with food or as a supplement to help cut down on inflammation into the muscles of the forearms and wrists. The key is the take turmeric with black pepper as that is the activating ingredient for turmeric to have a positive effect on the body.

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilizations (DNS)

With overuse injuries from excessive typing and poor posture, retraining the body to breathe using the diaphragm is vital. Correct breathing patterns not only helps your overall stress levels, but also helps minimize tension into muscles that are overworked and tense. Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization provides you with the proper movements and breathwork to help cut down connective tissue adhesions.

Ergonomic Assessment

The way you sit all day long can have an adverse effect on the overall biomechanics of the body. The way you are leaning to one side or slouching in your chair can be a huge contributor to your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Having a professional take a look at your workplace ergonomics (the way you position yourself at your desk) can be the key to alleviating not only CTS but helping to improve posture, decrease headaches and sciatica symptoms. Creating symmetry within the body while you work and utilizing proper products such as an ergonomic keyboard or mouse can help minimize symptoms.

If you have questions about Active Release Technique or how it can help you and your specific symptoms, reach out to us at Urban Wellness Clinic! We are here to answer your questions and provide you with relief of pain and the tools to help keep conditions like CTS away. Give us a call at 212-355-0445 or send us an email at

Yours in Health,

Dr. Monisha Mallik, D.C.