Have you ever felt a “pins-and-needles” sensation in your hand? You could be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel is caused by a pinched nerve in the arm or hand, resulting in a numbness or tingling sensation in the affected area. This syndrome is commonly brought about by repetitive motions. It can worsen over time, so it is best to start taking precautions early.
The following are a few tips to help resolve carpal tunnel symptoms at home:
Soak your hand in icy water. You can try soaking your hand in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes once every hour or two. The icy water can decompress the affected nerve, reducing the pain or sensation of numbness. Ice therapy will also reduce inflammation and swelling.
Soak your hand in warm water.If you have another health condition that prevents you from being able to use an ice bath, you can try soaking your hand in warm water. The water should be around 100°F, and you can soak your hand 3-4 times a day. Heat can relax muscles, reducing pressure affecting the pinched nerve. It can also increase blood flow and circulation.
Take breaks during repetitive tasks. Things like typing or playing the guitar involve repeated wrist motion. During these activities, try setting a timer for every 15 minutes. When you hear this timer go off, take a moment to stretch your hand. You can rotate your wrist by moving it in circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise. You can also stretch your hand by gently pulling your thumb back, holding it, then releasing.
Shake out your hand. Carpal tunnel pains are often felt at night. If this happens, you can gently shake out your hand and wiggle your fingertips to minimize the sensations. You can also hang your arm off the bed to alleviate symptoms. To further stretch your hand, extend your affected arm out with your palm facing upwards. Take the other hand and gently bend the affected wrist down, pointing your palm towards the floor. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then release.
Maintain alignment by using a wrist splint. Wrist splints can help prevent you from accidentally overextending or flexing your wrist. This can be worn when you sleep or throughout the day to prevent further exacerbating your wrist. You may purchase a wrist splint from a drugstore or online. Splints such as the Mueller Fitted Wrist Brace and the Wrist Brace by ComfyBrace are available online and positively reviewed by most users.
If you are in immediate need of a wrist splint, you can make one from home using a few materials. First, you will want to wrap your arm/wrist/hand with cloth or bandages. Then, find two things that are sturdy to keep the wrist rigid, such as a heavy stick, plank of wood, or rolled-up towel. These will become your splint.
Place one splint above the affected area, so above your wrist, and one splint goes below. You need something to secure your splints in place, such as a shoelace or strips of cloth. Do not tie it so tight that your hand loses circulation. If you suspect this, loosen the ties. Eventually, it is strongly recommended to purchase a proper wrist brace.