Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, can be uncomfortable and frustrating. But when you work a desk job, carpal tunnel discomfort may be unavoidable, and you may often be left with pain, tingling, or numbness spreading through your hand, wrist, or forearm.
And while CTS is a repetitive stress injury, it can be difficult to avoid the activities that caused the issue in the first place. But instead of simply enduring the discomfort on a daily basis, find ways to manage the pain and irritation.
Below, we’ll provide five tips for alleviating carpal tunnel discomfort.
1. Ice the Wrist
Some have found that icing the wrist can help reduce inflammation and ease carpal tunnel pain. Apply ice for about 10 to 15 minutes every half or whole hour. If you experience skin irritation or redness from the ice, remove it immediately and allow your skin to recover.
If you experience some improvement, continue to ice your wrist when you can. But if you don’t notice a difference, it’s probably not worth your time and effort to stay with it.
Take some time throughout the day to stretch and allow yourself a little relief from your carpal tunnel pain. For instance, form fists with both hands. Then, slowly straighten your fingers, allowing the pads of your fingers to slide against your palms until the fingers are entirely straight. This can help relieve some of the stress on your carpal tunnel.
If you’re able, you can also try a “corner stretch.” Find an open corner in the room, then press your hands and forearms against the wall on each side of the corner. Be sure your hands are completely flat and your arms create a 90-degree angle at the elbows. Place one foot slightly forward, then lean forward to stretch your chest for 10 seconds.
If you feel any pain as you stretch your chest, don’t continue. But doing so can help ease your shoulder and neck nerves and, in turn, soothe the nerves in your wrist. For the best results, do the “corner stretch” every 45 minutes.
3. Brace Your Wrist
Constantly flexing your wrists can further aggravate your carpal tunnel irritation, and while you sleep, your wrists are often bent without you knowing. To remedy this issue, get a wrist brace to wear at night and for a portion of the day.
But be sure to ask your doctor what brace they suggest, and ask them how long you should wear the brace during the day. Seeking professional advice can help you choose a more effective brace for your situation and avoid mistakes.
4. Try Wrist Exercises
Working out your wrist can also help ease carpal tunnel discomfort, specifically with tendon-gliding exercises. Usually, you begin with your hand stretched out and flat in a vertical position. Then, you transition from this basic position to various other positions to help relieve irritation and increase your hands’ mobility.
For instance, you would start with the basic position where your hand is stretched and vertical, then you would bend your hand at the bottom of your fingers. Your fingers should remain straight, giving your hand an L shape. Hold the position for two or three seconds, then go back to the basic position.
There are a few other positions that improve finger and hand mobility and help ease CTS symptoms. These exercise are most effective if repeated five times in one sitting, and it’s best to do these exercises three times a day.
5. Give It a Rest
As with any injury, give your wrists and hands a break every now and then. With the tissue surrounding the median nerve in your wrist is inflamed, it can lead to carpal tunnel syndromes. So, you’re doing an activity that irritates the median nerve in your wrist, try and take a rest every 15 minutes. It doesn’t need to be a long break, but it should give you a chance to stretch and recover before moving forward.
If you’re particularly uncomfortable, rest until the pain or irritation eases up a bit, then steadily return to your task. For example, if you type all day at work, take a break, then type slowly or softly and gradually build up your speed.
Also, giving your hands and wrists a rest for a couple of weeks can help reduce inflammation and let the affected tissue heal.
When you experience carpal tunnel discomfort, try the tips above to ease your pain. When possible, keep your wrists straight to prevent irritation, and take it easy. Also, ask your physician what else you can do to help reduce your carpal tunnel pain.
For more effective pain management, contact the Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates. We specialize in pain relief, and we can provide a personalized treatment plan for your specific situation. Don’t let carpal tunnel syndrome dictate your life. Let us reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.