As carpal tunnel syndrome is a  compression of the median nerve which runs through your wrist. The only way to reliably improve persistent symptoms is to ease the pressure on the nerve. In most cases this will be either with a steroid injection or a nerve release. However if you are waiting for treatment there are some things that you can try that may help manage your symptoms.

There are many "cures" for carpal tunnel available on the internet and whilst it is true that these may work for some people they do not work for everyone because there are many reasons that people develop symptoms of carpal tunnel. However unless they are causing you pain or making your symptoms worse the majority are unlikely to cause you any harm!

Simple things that you can try to help reduce your symptoms include:

Resting night splints.

People often have symptoms at night and this is made worse by the fact that many people sleep with their wrists bent forwards, this puts pressure on the nerve and so can make it worse. A night splint helps to keep the wrist straight and so can reduce symptoms. They do not work for everyone and some people find that it is worse. If this is the case then you can stop using them without causing any harm. Wrist splints may be available from your doctor or are available at most chemists.

Hanging your arm.

Though this is simple many people find that hanging their arm out of the bed and shaking can help relieve symptoms when they occur over night.

Pain killers.

Simple pain killers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can give some relief of symptoms, these should be used as per the directions and avoided if you have an allergy or stomach problems.

Activity modification.

The nerve becomes more compressed by any increase in inflammation or swelling within the carpal tunnel. Heavy activity, such as gardening can make the symptoms worse and if this can be avoided whilst waiting for treatment make improve your symptoms. Also activities such as prolonged computer use or gaming can make it worse, be sure to adjust your workspace for minimal stress on your wrists and try to take regular breaks and limit the time you perform any one activity.

Stretching exercises.

Some simple stretching exercises can help mobilise the nerve, in particular stretching the hand and wrist into extension (backwards) with the elbow held straight helps to stretch and mobilise the median nerve. It is sometimes helpful to do this under the supervision of a hand therapist.

Posture (neural axis) improvement.

The median nerve starts all the way up in your neck, so poor posture can affect nerve function by involving the neck, shoulders elbows and hands. It is important to try to be as relaxed as possible and to adjust your working environment so that you are not sitting hunched over a key board / game controller and that if you are watching TV to be sat without slouching which will compromise your neck and back. It is often very helpful to have this reviewed by a professional and a good hand therapist or physio therapist should be able to discuss this with you and suggest suitable personalised adaptations.

Further Treatments

If these adaptations and treatments do not work then you may require further treatment either in the form of an injection or surgery. This would require you to be seen for an assessment and if required, further tests may be performed. Any decision about further more invasive treatment is something that would be made between you and your treating doctor.

Mr Jeremy Read
Consultant Orthopaedic Hand & Wrist Surgeon
07565 446713
Mr Jeremy Read
Helping your Carpal tunnel symptoms