Do you wake up in the middle night of the night because your hands feel tingly or numb? Are you having a hard time turning the key in the door because your hands feel too weak? You may have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Ignoring your symptoms won’t make it go away, but exercises may help. At Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California, our skilled orthopedic surgeons and medical team specialize in treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
But before recommending surgery, we always try conservative medical interventions to help our patients. Our team of health experts includes a doctor of physical therapy, who designs exercise programs specifically for CTS.
Here, we want to share with you some exercises that can help your carpal tunnel syndrome.
About carpal tunnel syndrome
CTS causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and forearm because of compression or squeezing of the median nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel in your wrist.
The median nerve is one of the primary nerves in the hand, providing feeling on the palm side of your thumb, pointer finger, middle finger, and ring finger. The nerve also controls muscle movement at the base of your thumb.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow and rigid passageway in the wrist consisting of three bones that form the floor and sides of the tunnel and a ligament that makes up the roof. In addition to the median nerve, the flexor tendons that help you bend your fingers also run through this narrow space.
Any narrowing in the tunnel or swelling of the tendons may compress or squeeze the median nerve, causing CTS symptoms. You can develop CTS from many causes, including genetics, repetitive wrist or hand movements, or an injury to the hand or wrist.
Exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
Therapeutic exercises are one of the treatment options we use to help our patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. The goal of these exercises is to reduce pressure on the median nerve.
Types of exercises that help ease CTS symptoms include:
Wrist extension stretch
For the wrist extension stretch, straighten your arm and bend your wrist with your palm facing forward and your fingers pointed upward. Use your opposite hand to gently pull the hand toward you, feeling the stretch in your forearm. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Wrist flexion stretch
For the wrist flexion, extend your arm out in front of you with your palm facing down, then bend your wrist so your fingers face down. Using your other hand, gently pull your hand toward your body, feeling the stretch on the outer forearm. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Medial nerve glides
Medial nerve glides help the median nerve move more freely through the carpal tunnel. For this exercise, make a fist with your thumb outside your fingers. Open your fist so your fingers point upward while your thumb remains at the side of the hand.
Bend your wrist backward and extend your thumb out. Using your opposite hand, gently stretch the thumb. Repeat on the other side.
We provide specific instructions on how and when to do these exercises. It’s always best to get professional advice before starting any therapeutic exercise program.
Other treatment options
Exercises can help ease your CTS, but it’s only one part of our conservtive treatment plan. We also recommend wearing wrist splints at night and modifying your daytime routine to minimize repetitive movements.
When medical interventions fail to help CTS, we perform a minimally invasive surgical procedure that increases the size of the carpal tunnel to reduce nerve compression.
The best time to get help for carpal tunnel syndrome is the moment you start having symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent the need for surgery.
Our team of specialists can design a plan that eases your carpal tunnel symptoms. Contact our office in Castro Valley, California, today to schedule an appointment.