Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most commonly diagnosed wrist complaints.
However, several other causes in the wrist can cause almost the same complaints as carpal tunnel syndrome.
This is also why surgery to correct carpal tunnel syndrome has varying effects.
I will explain exactly what causes carpal tunnel syndrome, which symptoms you can recognize, and how you can treat your complaints yourself. Only when this treatment does not work should you consider surgery.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes
The carpal tunnel is a passageway in your wrist. The median nerve runs through this passage to your hand. This arm nerve is called the median nerve.
The median nerve controls the flexion and extension of your thumb, as well as the bending of your index and middle fingers.
In addition, it takes care of the skin area around the thumb and that of your index finger, middle finger, and sometimes part of your ring finger. This applies to both the front and the back of your hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome does not affect your little finger or the bending of your ring finger.
The nerve may become pinched in the carpal tunnel because the tunnel becomes smaller. This causes tingling and weakness in the fingers and the hand area supplied by this nerve.
In addition to the median nerve, several tendons of the hand muscles also run through the tunnel. Furthermore, the tunnel is covered by a ligament. This is a part of the joint capsule that can stiffen or thicken as a result of overload or wear. This reduces the space in the carpal tunnel, causing compression of the nerve.
The muscles and tendons in your forearm can also become overloaded. This causes them to swell, taking up more space in the carpal tunnel. This also puts pressure on the nerve, which can cause tingling in your hand.
Finally, the forearm muscles can swell during pregnancy due to the hormonal changes. This can lead to temporary carpal tunnel syndrome. This cause disappears after delivery.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
As previously discussed, carpal tunnel problems cause pain and tingling in your thumb, index, and middle fingers, as well as that part of your palm and the back of your hand.
You may also suffer from stiffness in your forearm muscles and pain in your wrist.
The tingling in the hand is worse at night. Waving your hand reduces the tingling sensation.
Keeping your wrist bent for a long time also aggravates the tingling in your hand.
Tingling in your hand can also be caused by a pinched nerve in your neck. In that case, in addition to the tingling in your hand, you also have pain in your neck. Moving your neck aggravates the tingling, which is not appropriate for carpal tunnel syndrome. In this case, you suffer from neck pain that radiates into your arm.
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment with 3 exercises
So to treat the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, we have to reduce the pressure in the carpal tunnel.
There are three ways to do this.
The first and most important thing is to give your lower arm muscles rest. When they get the rest they need, the tension of these muscles will reduce. The reduced pressure will increase the space for the nerve in your carpal tunnel.
Unfortunately for many people, it’s tough to give your arms the rest they need.
That’s why I recommend wearing a wrist brace at first.
When you wear a wrist brace, your wrist will stay in the same position no matter what you do, which will make sure that the muscles in your arm don’t have to do anything. That especially helps with night pain..
Togehter with giving your wrist rest, you can also massage the muscles to reduce the tension.
Now that the muscles get to rest, it is time to start with the two carpal tunnel syndrome exercises that work.
Carpal tunnel syndrome exercise 1: stretching your lower arm muscles
Now that the muscles in your forearm get the rest they need, it’s time to reduce the tension even further.
You can do this with the following exercise:
- Extend your elbow and your wrist
- Grab your fingers with your other hand and extend these as well
- Hold this position for 30 seconds
- Repeat this three times
- Do this several times a day.
You can also find this exercise in the video.
When you perform this exercise, you will feel the stretch in the muscles in your lower arm. You might even experience radiation in your hand at first.
If you continue to do this exercise regularly, you will notice that the stretch in your forearm is decreasing. The radiation in your hand will also reduce.
Now it’s time to start with the second exercise training your muscles.
Carpal tunnel syndrome exercise 2: Increasing the strength in the muscles of your lower arm
To prevent your lower arm muscles from tightening up again, it’s also essential to increase the power of your muscles.
Most of the time these muscles are just not strong enough for the tasks you’re doing
When you don’t address this problem, the tension in your lower arm muscles will be back within weeks.
This way, the radiation in your lower arm will return as well.
So, to prevent this from happening, it’s important to increase the strength, so the muscles don’t get overused again.
Overuse is usually the reason for the tension in your muscles.
You can address this by performing the following exercise:
- Place your arm on the table with your hand and wrist over the edge
- Now extend your wrist
- Now let it down again
- Repeat this ten times
- Turn your arm around so that the palm of your hand points to the ceiling
- Now bend your wrist as far as possible and repeat this ten times
You can also find the exercise in this video.
When the activity becomes too easy, you can increase the difficulty by taking a bottle of water or a small weight in your hand.
Perform this exercise 2 times a day. You can also increase the number of repetitions if it gets too easy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome exercise 3: Improve the mobility of your neck
The last exercise is aimed at improving the mobility of your neck. If the tingling in your hand comes from your neck, it is good to do exercises for neck pain. This is the first exercise.
Perform the exercise like this:
- Wrap a towel around your neck
- Take with your left hand the right side of the towel and with your right hand the left side
- Now lift the hand that is in front up until the towel is at the same height as your cheek
- Now pull with your arm and the towel your head in full rotation to the side
- Repeat this ten times and then change to the opposite side by changing your hands
- Finally, grasp the towel normally and lift your arms, and look up at the same time
You can also see how to perform the exercise in this video.
Perform the exercise at least twice a day. Rotate your head as far as you can. It’s okay when it hurts. That’s because you stretch the limit of your neck at this point. That way, you’ll improve mobility.
As you can see, in most cases you can remedy carpal tunnel syndrome yourself with 3 exercises.
If you have any questions, you can always send me an email.