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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome exercises

Due to numbness and/or tingling in the fingers associated with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), dexterity problems such as opening a jar or buttoning up clothing can become difficult for individuals with the syndrome. Other issues may include loss of strength when turning doorknobs, picking up small objects and even turning the key to start the car. But one of the biggest issues for those with carpal tunnel syndrome is waiting too long before considering or having treatment to relieve the symptoms and pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome rarely subsides without some form of treatment, consulting a physician or considering surgery.

So, what can one do to relieve these issues related to carpal tunnel syndrome? There are several options to help manage the condition, including a carpal tunnel syndrome exercise regimen to aid in maintaining a healthy wrist and arm. According to a report from the University of Oklahoma, 2 out of 3 patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome were able to avoid surgical interventions by incorporating exercises, which alleviated pain, tingling and numbness.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises

1. Wrist Stretch and Flex

This exercise can be completed in six simple steps. Start out by extending and stretching out both wrists and fingers as if you are in a push-up position. Hold this stretch for 5 seconds. Next, straighten both wrists and relax the fingers. Make a tight first with both hands and then bend both wrists up for 5 seconds, and then down for 5 seconds. Allow your arms to hang loosely at your side, shaking them out to come back to a neutral position.

Repeat the Wrist Stretch and Flex ten times before moving on to the next exercise. This is a great routine to have after waking up in the morning.

2. The Median Nerve Circuit

For the Median Nerve Circuit exercise, begin with your arm stretched out in front of you with a fist to begin with, and hold for 5 seconds. Next, flatten out your hand and hold that position for 5 seconds; then, make a “puppet” hand, or a “C” with your hand and hold out for 5 seconds. Following this, you will turn your palm upward and hold for 5 seconds, and end by reaching with the opposite arm underneath your outstretched arm, and grab hold of your thumb, pulling it downward. Hold this for 5 seconds as well.

3. Towel Stretch – “First Rib”

In this stretch, place a towel over the same shoulder as the wrist with carpal tunnel syndrome and grab the end of it with your hand. Pull down with one arm in the front, one in the back and lean your head to the opposite shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

There are many stretches that an individual with carpal tunnel syndrome can perform to alleviate or reduce symptoms and pain of CTS. The above-mentioned carpal tunnel syndrome exercises are a great way to start an exercise routine in the comfort of your own home. A physical therapist would also be a great resource for additional exercises and hand or wrist movements to aid in providing comfort to the patient. Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine to ensure safety and to prevent further damage or injury.

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  • Stephanie Schneider

    These exercises were explained in easy to understand terms. Another thing I have learned is that there are a lot of different yoga poses and stretches that help with carpel tunnel. The University of Oklahoma report is fascinating! I would definitely try these stretches to avoid potential surgery in the future.

    • Jerry

      Hey Stephanie, Do you know the names of any of the specific yoga poses that help? Or is this just with yoga in general? I have been considering trying it out, but there are so many different types of classes and I am not sure what would be the right one.

    • Stephanie Schneider

      If you are not sure about a class, I would start with some sort of introduction. As for the poses, those that put pressure on the wrists, such as plank poses or downward dog should probably be avoided or modified. I modify mine. I think any other moves that focus on strength, stretch, breathing, and posture would be helpful.

    • Rachel B

      Yoga is definitely helpful for a number of conditions! Someone in my class uses a strap with the help of the instructor to alleviate the pressure on her wrists in some of the moves. I am not sure if this is because she suffers from carpal tunnel, but I would look into it.

  • Jerry

    Thanks for the blog post. I will try these exercises to help alleviate wrist pain. Of course, I will be sure to consult with my doctor. I tried the exercises as I read the blog just to make sure I could get them right. Your directions were very clear and easy to understand.

    • Michele

      I will definitely be giving these exercises a try.

    • Julia

      That’s smart to wait until you speak with your doctor until starting an exercise regimen. These exercises can be very helpful, as they have been for me, but it can also be dangerous depending on your injury. It is very easily to make a small problem worse or to irritate a past injury. Best of luck to you; I hope these help you as much as they’ve helped me.

  • Rachel B

    When 2/3 people with mild to moderate carpal tunnel symptoms can avoid surgical intervention by incorporating exercises, that stuff works! The exercises you mentioned look easy enough, but I would consult with a doctor, physical therapist, or even a trainer at the gym about any pain I am experiencing before starting my own exercise regimen.

    • NurseEJ

      I absolutely agree. Your healthcare provider will probably agree with any of the exercises described in this post, but before you start any sort of exercises, it is a good idea to check with the experts. Certainly consult your healthcare provider before you do any yoga exercises that require bending at the waist and inversion of your head. It probably won’t be an issue, but it never hurts to check!

  • Rebecca

    Carpal Tunnel syndrome exercises are very important as they can help to avoid any drastic solutions to alleviate the problem. One of the exercises that personally helped me that is described above is the wrist stretch and flex. I did this every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to bed. This greatly reduced the pain that I had been experiencing and made the pain more manageable.

    • Joy

      I will have to give some of these exercises a try. I see that you said the exercise that helped you was the wrist stretch flex. Based upon your response I see that regular and consistent incorporation of the exercise eased your pain. Different things work for different people, but if one person has seen success I do not think it is far fetched to believe that I too might see improvements.

    • jem1997

      I agree. I think the stretch is probably the most efficient way to relieve some of the pain. It really makes sense when you think about the cause of the pain. If the pain is due to a nerve being trapped, then stretching the joint should actually help to relieve some of the pain.

    • Michele

      I agree. It’s always good to go conservative first. Everyone should always try conservative measures before opting for surgical intervention.

  • Kellie

    I know the post says to do these in the morning, but I did them last night before I went to bed and they actually helped relax my hands, wrists and arms after a day spent at the typewriter. They would probably work well in the morning, too, but I find that my soreness is most acute at night.

    • Michael H

      Kellie, I like to do the exercises morning or after work, and ideally both. Whatever makes your wrists feel the best. I also keep a gripper ball at work which I used at least three or four times per day. There are balls designed specifically for hand/wrist exercises but any type of ball should do, it’s just a matter of finding one that’s right for your hand size and strength. It helps relieve work-related stress too!

  • Michele

    Great exercises! I learned about a lot of these in exercise science classes.

  • T.J.

    Thank you for sharing these exercises with us! I know so many people who suffer from severe carpal tunnel and they could really benefit from these. I like how many of them are easy to do throughout the day whether you are at home or in the office working!