Carpal Tunnel Home Remedies

Carpal tunnel syndrome, or median nerve compression, is a painful condition involving a pinched nerve to the wrist and hand. The carpal tunnel houses the median nerve and finger tendons as they travel along the back of the wrist to the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be extremely uncomfortable. While there is no “quick fix,” there are a few steps you can take to help alleviate the discomfort and expedite recovery.

Take a Chill Pill

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs because of excessive pressure on the tunnel, which in turn pinches its contents. With the nerve essentially cut off, the wrist, hand, thumb, and three largest fingers may feel numb and tingly, slowly developing into pain and weakness. It becomes difficult to write, lift small but heavy objects, or even brush your teeth. 

Some research suggests frequent engagement in repetitive activities such as typing may make carpal tunnel syndrome more likely to develop. Take periodic breaks from any activities that put stress on your hands and wrist. Allowing them to rest may help reduce inflammation and discomfort, thereby helping to prevent constant provocation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, may be sufficient for minor cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. These medications are designed not only to reduce swelling, but to help with pain as well. 

Work it Out

Some people are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome because of anatomical differences in their wrists; women may develop carpal tunnel syndrome more often because female wrists are designed smaller than those of males. Some medical conditions, such as inflammatory or nerve-damaging conditions, as well as diseases that can cause swelling and fluid retention are more likely to lead to carpal tunnel. Even pregnancy can increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome; the feet and hands tend to swell, generally because of hormone fluctuations, which is sufficient to produce added pressure on the carpal tunnel. 

If you know you fall into one of the risk factor categories for carpal tunnel, engage in daily exercises to provide strength and flexibility to your hands and wrists. With your arm extended forward, palm up, flex your fingers toward your elbow; use your other arm to increase the stretch. Another great stretch for carpal tunnel involves touching the tips of all your fingers together, elbows bent, in front of your chest. Fingers down and thumbs up, spread your fingers wide and press your hands together, then pull back apart. 

Sleep it Off

While it can take several months for carpal tunnel syndrome to alleviate, it seems to appear virtually overnight. Carpal tunnel is often worse first thing in the morning. It is very common to sleep with the fists curled and wrists bent forward, putting added pressure on the carpal tunnel. While you can try to arrange your body so that your hands won’t be able to curl up, chances are it won’t last -- and you may make matters worse by sleeping on your hands and potentially cutting off pressure. 

Special wrist braces are available over the counter from pharmacies, specially designed to keep the wrists straight and minimizing unconscious finger curling. Sleeping in these braces can not only keep your hands from feeling useless in the morning, it can also help reduce carpal tunnel pressure sufficiently to be a very successful treatment in many cases. Wear them during repetitive activities during recovery time to help manage symptoms. Use braces on both hands every night for best results during the recovery period.