As we rub away with our talented hands, we may have an opportunity to assess if a nerve root or disc has been pinched or altered by time or trauma.
Recently a client sought help for numbness in the fingertips of the thumb, index and middle finger. Massage therapists are aware that numbness or weakness calls for evaluation by a doctor. This client had already seen her doctor, and an evaluation had shown disc problems in the neck.
My client was hoping for some improvement brought about by massage instead of more drastic measures.
A quick frisk of Google for numbness in these areas yields lots of articles regards dermatomes and myotomes, showing the body sliced into grids labeled with the common nerve root/disc source. The thumb, index and middle fingers are associated with the medial and radial nerves, and with C5-C6. Tingles in these areas might be caused anywhere from the spine and disc to the carpal tunnel.
By tracking the radial nerve from neck to fingers, I used several techniques to warm, stretch and free the nerve from adhesions. I also massaged the scalenes and applied light traction to the head, in hopes of opening the pinched off areas.
Her symptoms were greatly reduced, and my client is hopeful that massages and some physical therapy will keep her out of the operating room. Will my client have neck surgery? I don’t know, but her symptoms took a turn for the better, and that is what clients seek.
If dermatomes and myotomes are new to you, try a Google of them for some great information that will help your massage practice. I also keep a printed chart handy in my massage appointment book.