Ice massage for chronic wrist pain question

by Colin

Hi Joshua,

I've been trying your ice massage technique on my right wrist (I've had chronic wrist pain for over ten years). I can't find a specific painful spot on my wrist when I do the ice massage, but there is a spot that, after a minute of massaging, becomes very sensitive and sends an uncomfortable shooting sensation into my fingers. Obviously, I'm hitting a nerve.

Should I ice massage this spot or avoid it? And if I can't find a painful, non-shooting spot, should I even bother with the ice massage?



Joshua Answers:

Hi Colin.

If you're sure it's a nerve, then yes, don't pester that spot too much. Nothing good comes from irritating a nerve.

If it's a 'trigger point' kind of spot, that's entirely different. Muscle fibers stuck in constant contraction may not be tender at first, but press on them a bit and all of a sudden you can feel it.

1. How far away from the wrist are you working? You should be exploring/working all the way up the elbow, and getting the thumb pad muscle area(s) too.

Just because you feel pain at the wrist, doesn't mean that's the source of the pain.

Tendonitis and the Process of Inflammation.

2. Describe your chronic 10 year old wrist pain. Details, details, details.

3. Does the ice massaging feel like it reduces pain levels?

4. Overall health? History of injury?

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Apr 14, 2011
wrist pain follow up
by: Colin

Thanks for the reply, Joshua. I'm pretty sure I'm hitting a nerve -- it feels like hitting my "funny bone," just in a different place.

To answer your questions:

1) I was only ice massaging in the wrist area before. But now that I'm working my way up the arm, I've found some tight and sore spots around the inside of the elbow.

2) My chronic wrist pain has mostly come from excessive computer usage (I used to work in computer programming, now I'm a writer). The mouse is generally more problematic than the keyboard. These days, the pain is solely in the wrist. It's palm-side, and dull. Repetitive wrist movements are particularly aggravating -- for example, handwriting, wrist curls, or mixing food together with a spoon/fork. In the last year or so, I've noticed a decrease in fine-motor control -- my handwriting has gotten sloppier, I drop things more often, and things like separating two sheets of paper have gotten more difficult.

3) So far, the ice massage hasn't done much, but I'll see how it works now that I'm targeting different areas. Ice dips have helped to a degree.

4) My overall health is good. I have a balanced diet -- lots of vegetables and whole grains, small amounts of meat, minimal processed fat/sugar. I walk a lot and work out 1 to 3 times each week. I get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

I've seen lots of professionals about the injury. The usual remedies -- exercises, splints, ice packs, ultrasound, and TENS did nothing. NSAIDs offered temporary relief. A physiotherapist once "popped" my back and neck, and that gave some temporary relief too.

Any more help would be great. Thanks, Joshua.



Joshua Comments:

Hey Colin.

Yep. Go after the forearm for a while. That's the source. The wrist is where things end up, not the cause.

And as in all things, there's a certain amount of trial and error involved. You've done what you've done and got what you got. (And even though you've done a lot for it, if it wasn't the RIGHT tool, it's doomed to fail, or at least perform poorly.)

Time to fine tune. Open up the too tight structures in the forearm that are causing the problems in the wrist..

You may have some too tight issues up at the front of the neck/chest/shoulder, but let's deal with one thing at a time.

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