Unfortunately, for a great many people, the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome interferes with daily life. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we see patients for whom this problem makes household chores, work tasks, sports, and routine activities like driving or writing, difficult or even impossible, to manage.
If you are troubled by the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, this blog will offer you some effective home remedies to help you cope. If your symptoms persist or worsen, make an appointment at one of our five convenient offices to discuss our various nonsurgical options for successful treatment.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of compression of the median nerve, the nerve that travels through the tunnel formed by the carpal bones of the wrist, the strong ligaments in the palm, and the tendons that move the thumb and fingers. Compression of the median nerve interrupts both sensation and mobility of the wrist, hand, fingers, and thumb.
Several factors can contribute to the condition, including:
- Traumatic injury to the wrist
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Fluid retention (e.g. during pregnancy)
- Repeated use of vibrating handheld tools, the vibration of holding motorcycle handlebars
- Other repetitive action (e.g. playing a musical instrument)
Not only does carpal tunnel syndrome result in pain and discomfort, but it also causes
numbness and tingling in the affected fingers and thumb, and weakness in the wrist.
Ways to Alleviate Carpal Tunnel Symptoms at Home
Fortunately, there are several ways to relieve carpal tunnel on your own. The following methods have proven effective in reducing symptoms:
1. Be kind to your hands and wrists
Paying attention to the way you use your hands and wrists can make a significant difference in your healing:
- Make it a habit to do wrist-stretching exercises (e.g. make a fist, then gradually extend each finger; squeeze and release a wrist exercise ball)
- Massage your hands regularly
- Grip more lightly (e.g. when driving)
- Elevate your hands and wrists whenever possible
- Avoid activities that involve flexing your wrist in either direction
- Keep your hands warm to reduce pain and stiffness (e.g. with fingerless gloves)
- Wear a wrist brace at night (most people sleep with their wrists bent which worsens the problem)
2. Make helpful lifestyle changes
Though you may not be aware of the connection, some of your habits may be exacerbating your carpal tunnel difficulties so making some of these changes can help:
- Lose enough weight to put your BMI in the safe zone
- Increase your physical activity
- Maintain correct posture while working at the computer
- Stop smoking, use good posture doing computer work, sewing, etc.
3. Take breaks from repetitive tasks
Don’t stress your wrists. Take breaks to stretch and relax your hands if you have been playing a musical instrument, typing, or using a hand drill for more than 15 minutes. This will improve blood flow and reduce wrist strain.
4. Wear splints on your wrists for support
Keeping your wrist straight relieves pressure on your median nerve. This can be particularly helpful at night, but may also help relieve symptoms during the day.
5. Try over-the-counter painkillers
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin or ibuprofen are most effective. Topical creams and ointments with these ingredients can also be helpful.
If These Suggestions Don’t Do the Trick, Contact Our Experienced Carpal Tunnel Doctors
If your carpal tunnel symptoms are not responding as hoped to home remedies, it’s time to get in touch with our skilled physiatrists. We offer several therapies for this condition. Contact us for an accurate diagnosis — there may be other factors in play — and let us help accelerate your healing with corticosteroid injections, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), or acupuncture, alone or in combination. Relieving your pain and restoring your function is what Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine is all about.