Most people are somewhat familiar with what carpal tunnel syndrome is. But symptoms aren’t always obvious, and some are downright confusing. Recognizing where carpal tunnel pain comes from provides cues for some of the activities and positions you should avoid. You can also learn some carpal tunnel syndrome exercises that may improve the condition.
What Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Actually Is
When you understand what carpal tunnel syndrome is, you get a better sense of how carpal tunnel syndrome exercises work. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, and shoulders. Its symptoms range from mild to severe.
The bony side of your wrist is made up of carpal bones. However, the palm side of your wrist is softer. It contains the carpal tunnel, a narrow tube that houses nerves, tendons, and ligaments. When this passageway becomes damaged, inflamed, or compressed, it can pinch the median nerve, regulating movement and feeling in the first three fingers and thumb. As a result, the impaired nerve can’t transmit sensations properly, and you may experience numbness, tingling, and pain.
What Carpal Tunnel Symptoms Do Exercises Help With?
The spot where carpal tunnel pain begins isn’t always obvious. Symptoms may come on gradually and mildly.
When it comes to carpal tunnel, the hands are a commonly affected area. Some people have numbness in their thumb and first two fingers. Distinguishing between hot and cold sensations may be difficult. Not thinking much of it, you shake out your hand and go on with your day. Over time, you may develop pain, numbness, and weakness anywhere from your fingertips to your shoulder.
Carpal tunnel syndrome exercises help:
- Prevent injury from repetitive motions
- Maintain proper function and flexibility in the hands and wrists
- Regain fine motor function after experiencing weakness
- Relieve and prevent pain
- Prevent muscle atrophy in the wrists and hands
- Prevent compression in the carpal tunnel
How to Relieve Pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Exploring where carpal tunnel pain comes from can guide you toward a solution. If an underlying health condition exacerbates your carpal tunnel hands pain, you may find relief when you control symptoms of that disease. For example, repetitive use symptoms can be alleviated by taking more frequent breaks, relaxing your grip, and stretching.
The following carpal tunnel syndrome exercises are basic and easy to do at work, in the car, or while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. Do them slowly and intentionally, and repeat the movements up to five times:
- Wrist rotations – Keeping your wrists stable, move your hands side to side and up and down.
- Thumb stretch – Use the opposite hand to give your thumb a gentle, backward stretch.
- Finger stretches – Extend your fingers as straight and as wide as you can, then relax them.
The next group of carpal tunnel syndrome exercises provides a more intense stretch. Try them before and after doing an activity that exacerbates your symptoms:
- Prayer hands – Place your palms together under your chin, with the fingers pointing up. Move your hands down to your waist while maintaining contact. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds.
- Wrist flexor stretch – Holding your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing up, bend your wrists so that your fingers point to the floor. For a deeper stretch, provide gentle pressure on the fingertips with the opposite hand.
- Wrist flexor stretch – Holding your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing down, bend your wrists so that your fingers point to the floor. Push on your fingers with the opposite hand to intensify the stretch.
Some movements are safer to do when your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are warm. For example, apply a hot compress to your forearms, wrists, and hands for 15 minutes before doing the following carpal tunnel syndrome exercises. Then, hold a cold compress to it for 20 minutes afterward. These exercises are excellent for working into your bedtime routine:
- Medial nerve glide – Begin with your hand in a fist. Then, straighten your fingers and thumb, keeping them pressed together. Next, stretch your hand back toward your wrist before turning your palm to face upward and stretching your thumb gently backward with your opposite hand.
- Tendon glide – Hold your hand in front of you, with the palm facing forward and fingers pointing up. Slowly curl your fingers into a tight fist, keeping your knuckles pointing up. You can also do this without fully curling your fingers. Instead, focus on bending straight fingers until they come close to your palm.
Here are some other tips for how to relieve pain carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Don’t sleep on your hands.
- Rotate your wrists and extend your fingers regularly throughout the day.
- Wear a snug splint to limit wrist bending while you sleep.
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Use cold compresses to reduce pain.
Although you might not want to hear it, using a smartphone may increase your risk of developing this condition. If you have mild symptoms, try using your phone less frequently.
Myths about the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are many myths about what carpal tunnel syndrome is, including:
- Typing causes carpal tunnel syndrome – Typing for fewer than 20 hours a week doesn’t increase your risk, although your wrist position does affect carpal tunnel pressure. Maintaining a neutral wrist position keeps the pathway open.
- You have carpal tunnel syndrome if your hands fall asleep – A few different conditions can cause numbness and tingling in the extremities.
- Carpal tunnel is the same as tennis elbow – Carpal tunnel elbow is not a thing. However, the syndrome can cause pain in the inner elbow, making people wonder if they have a carpal tunnel of the elbow or tennis elbow. A health care provider can help you diagnose the condition.
- Surgery is the only option – There are many physical therapy, chiropractic, and at-home treatments. In fact, surgery is not always as effective as conservative treatments.
If you ask friends, family, and social media followers about what carpal tunnel symptoms you have, you may not get accurate answers. Learn how to ease your discomfort and remedy the source of the pain by getting professional care. An experienced chiropractor or sports treatment specialist can also ensure that a different condition or an injury doesn’t cause the pain.
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services!