How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Home
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common issue that many people will experience over the course of their lives. Carpal tunnel is caused by the compression of the median nerve, which controls the movement of your thumb and other fingers, except for the pinky. When this compression occurs, it slows the nerve impulses causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling, sharp pain, and weakness of the hand. For some, carpal tunnel can be an annoying nuisance that hinders everyday activities, but more severe cases can lead to debilitating pain.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There are many factors that may contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. One of the most common causes is the frequent use of repetitive motions involving the wrist. Jobs that require repetitive motions such as typing, assembly line work, sewing, knitting, baking, hair styling, and cashier work can greatly increase your likelihood of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Certain health conditions can also increase the risk, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, obesity, arthritis, and pregnancy. Additionally, women are three times more likely than men to experience carpal tunnel, with the symptoms and intensity usually increasing with age. While the task of managing carpal tunnel symptoms can feel overwhelming, it is often fairly easy to treat on your own, in fact many people can find relief from home.
How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Home
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain with movement and can prevent you from doing daily activities, but there are many ways you can take action to relieve your symptoms at home. Options for pain relief include lifestyle changes, exercises, and other at home treatments. It is important to keep in mind that these solutions may not work for you, and you may need to consult a doctor if your symptoms do not resolve.
If possible, it is most helpful to stop doing the repetitive motions that are causing your symptoms. If the repetitive motion is an integral part of your job, try taking more frequent breaks or reducing the overall amount of activity. You may also find it helpful to reduce the amount of force you use when doing aggravating activities, such as writing with a more relaxed grip or typing with a lighter touch. In general, try to maintain a neutral wrist posture and avoid putting your wrists in hyper-extension for long periods of time.
Wrist Stretches & Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Exercising and stretching the wrist can help to reduce carpal tunnel symptoms by decompressing the median nerve and building muscles that support your wrist. Prioritize managing your symptoms by setting reminders throughout the day to take breaks and do these exercises.
One method of treatment is to improve the strength of your wrist so that it can better support itself. Physical therapy putty is specifically designed for such rehabilitative purposes. By doing finger and wrist exercises with a therapy putty, you can improve your flexibility and strength while decreasing pain and stiffness.
There are also several easy stretches you can do throughout the day to reduce the pressure on your median nerve. Try pressing your hands together in a prayer position, then lowering your hands down towards your stomach until you feel the stretch under your forearms. To perform a flexor wrist stretch, extend your arm with the palm facing up and use your other hand to pull your hand backwards toward you. For an extensor wrist stretch, repeat the stretch with your palm facing down. You may also find it helpful to shake out your hands and wrists for a couple minutes every hour or so to release pressure on the median nerve. If your carpal tunnel is caused by pregnancy, avoid fluid retention in the area by elevating your hands and wrists whenever possible.
If these stretches are too painful, try more soothing means of exercising the area. Lightly massaging the base of the palm can provide relief without aggravating the wrist. You can also try submerging your hands in 92-100⁰F water while doing gentle range of motion exercises to reduce pain and stiffness.
Wearing Wrist Splints for Carpal Tunnel
Wrist splints are recommended to avoid the flexion and extension that causes carpal tunnel. Deluxe wrist stabilizers provide rigid support to the wrist, keeping them in a neutral position. Wrist splints can be worn during the day and while you are working to avoid aggravation from repetitive tasks. You can also wear your wrist splint in the evening or at night while sleeping to relieve symptoms before they start.
Carpal Tunnel Pain Relief Methods
The sharp pains caused by carpal tunnel syndrome can be a constant irritation throughout the day. To reduce this pain, try icing the area with a cold pack or by soaking in ice water for 10 minutes. Following doctor advice, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or topical pain relief creams may also be used help to reduce swelling and pain. Consult your doctor if pain persists, as you may require surgery to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome. In these severe cases, the ligament is released by a hand surgeon to create more room and decrease pressure on the median nerve.
We know it can be difficult to remember to take care of your body, but by diligently following a care regimen for yourself, you may be able to find relief for your nagging carpal tunnel symptoms. Please reach out to Ohana Medical Supply with any questions you may have regarding the proper equipment to use to improve carpal tunnel syndrome. We are dedicated to providing high-quality products that empower you make your health and wellness a priority.
Disclaimer: This blog post was written and/or reviewed by a licensed medical professional, but is not a suitable replacement for professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. If you have a medical concern, please consult your healthcare provider to seek professional medical treatment. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately for urgent medical attention.