If you’re experiencing a tingling, numbness or pain in one or both hands you may have a condition called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is quite common during pregnancy but it can affect anyone, at any age. It’s caused by compression of one of the nerves in your wrist and one of the key features is that your symptoms will have a clear ‘edge and aspect’. This means that symptoms will be located in a very specific part of your hand. So specific, in fact, that you could draw an imaginary line around it like this:

Pain and numbness felt in the hand with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

It’s also likely that your symptoms are worse at night. You may wake up with a dead sensation in your hand or intense pins and needles and often hanging your arm over the edge of your bed and shaking it brings back the normal feeling. Activities that involve gripping may also trigger your symptoms and as time progresses you may find that your hand feels a bit weaker or clumsier during intricate tasks.

Self-test for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Bend your wrists and stay in this position for 3 minutes.

Physiotherapist demonstrating the test for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If this test brings on your symptoms within 1-2 minutes, then it’s likely that you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

How to relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Here are our four top tips for relieving the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

1. Stretch out your wrist muscles: 

Wrist stretch for Carpal Tunnel SyndromeWith your elbow straight, bend your wrist back and use your other hand to gently help stretch. Hold for 15 – 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

2. Stretch your thumb muscles:

Thumb stretch for carpal tunnel syndrome

With your elbow straight, take hold of your thumb and gently draw it back to increase the stretch. Hold for 15 – 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

3. Glide the nerve as it travels from your neck to your wrist:

Nerve flossing for carpal tunnel syndrome

Make a fist and bend your wrist towards your shoulder on your bad side, side bend your head away. Then press your palm away and bend your head towards the bad side. Move within a comfort zone and repeat 15 times.

Tips: you might want to start with a slightly smaller range of movement and build up.

4. Wear a wrist splint at night:

hand splint for carpal tunnel syndrome

Put your splint on before you go to bed and wear it through the night for 2 weeks.  It can also be worn during the day for short periods if you are unable to avoid doing an activity that normally brings on your symptoms. Look for a splint which contains a shaped metal bar sitting along the palm side of your hand and forearm.

Other treatment options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Your GP might recommend a steroid injection to reduce swelling and relieve compression on the nerve. It can give good short term relief of your symptoms but it’s vital that any underlying causes are addressed to prevent the condition from coming back.

If treatment hasn’t been effective, your GP can refer you for tests to see how fast your nerves are able to send electricals signal from one part to another (nerve conduction testing). If these tests show that your nerves are not working quickly enough you may be offered surgery to release the pressure at your wrist.

Although it is possible to have carpal tunnel in both hands at the same time it’s unusual. If you are experiencing your symptoms in both hands the problem may actually be coming from your neck. Either way we’d recommend a physical assessment with your GP or a physiotherapist.

If you think you might be suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and you’d like to speak to someone about your symptoms, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

The Physiofit Team!