When you develop carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), the pain and discomfort from the condition can be unbearable and have a negative impact on your productivity and quality of life. The most common treatment for this condition is surgery, which helps reduce pain by alleviating the pressure on the nerves in the wrists. If you would prefer to avoid surgery, here are a couple of alternative treatments that may provide long-lasting relief and restore function to your hands and fingers.
Warm and Cold Therapy
Icing your wrists for 10 to 15 minutes each hour can be very helpful in managing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is because coldness slows the blood flow, which reduces inflammation and swelling in the area being treated. This, in turn, can decrease pain and discomfort for awhile. Icing is best used for acute pain or recently swollen sites. Therefore, you should only start using ice therapy when you begin feeling carpal tunnel symptoms, such as pain and numbness in your hands and fingers.
Alternatively, keeping your wrists warm can also improve your condition. Heat relaxes the muscles and stimulates blood flow, both of which can help alleviate pain and stiffness in your hand and fingers. This treatment is a good option for chronic conditions like CTS and best used before you begin experiencing symptoms. You can place heat wraps on your wrists for a few minutes each hour or you can keep your wrists warm by wearing fingerless gloves and working in an adequately heated area.
Hand and Finger Stretches
Exercise is good for the body, and the same is true for your hands and wrists. Performing finger and hand stretches on a regular basis can reduce the strain caused by engaging in the same repetitive tasks day in and day out, strengthen wrists, and alleviate pain.
Some good exercises include:
- Spider pushups – Press the fingertips of each hand against each other in a prayer-like position. Press your hands together as though you were squeezing a ball between your palms and spread your fingers out as wide as possible. Hold for one second and then reverse course and pretend like you're grabbing a hamburger with both hands, closing the fingers at the same time. Repeat several times.
- Hand shake – Hold your hands out and loosely shake them around as though trying to flick water away from your fingertips.
- Hand presses – Extend one hand. Using the other hand, gently press your extended hand downward so the fingers are pointing to the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then reverse and press the hand up so that the fingers are pointing to the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds, then switch and do the other hand.
Performing these exercises throughout the day will break up the monotony your wrists are subjected to and alleviate the pressure causing your pain.
For more information about non-surgical ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, contact a orthopedic doctor or clinic such as Soloway Stephen MD Arthritis & Rheumatology.