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Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

17 Feb 2021

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway at the base of your hand where tendons and nerves, including the median nerve, pass through. The median nerve controls sensation to the palm side of your thumb and the index, middle and ring finger. Tingling sensations and pain – wrist upwards – in the palm and fingers, can be a sure sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. Consider the following:


Use splint/brace/gloves – Try wearing splints/braces to keep your wrists in a neutral position at night or while typing or doing other tasks with your hands. If you’re working in a cold environment, gloves can prevent stiffness in the fingers.

Change work setup – If you work on an assembly line, see if you can ease stress on your wrists and hands. If working on a computer, sit up straight and keep your elbows near your sides. Adjust the height of your keyboard so your forearms are parallel to the floor. Make sure your monitor is centered in front of you and adjust it’s level with your eyes.

Take breaks when working – Try to take a break every 20-30 minutes to stretch your hands. Try shaking your hands and stretching them out. And every hour or so, get up and walk around.



The shake

This is as straightforward as it sounds – shake hands like you’ve just washed them and are trying to air dry them. Do this for a minute every hour to keep flexor muscles of your hands and its median nerve from getting cramped and tight during the day. 

Fist to stop sign

Make a fist. Slide your fingers up until they point toward the ceiling, like you’re telling someone to stop. Repeat 5-10 times.

Fist to fan

Make a fist. Fan your fingers out – stretch them as far as you can. Repeat 5-10 times.

Thumb touches

One at a time, touch the tip of each finger to the tip of your thumb so they make an O-shape. Repeat a few times.

Basic wrist stretches

Sit down at a table. Rest your elbow and arm on the table and let your wrist hang over the side, palm of your hand facing up. Start with your hand in a straight, neutral position. Bend your hand toward you so your fingers point up toward the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to a straight, neutral position. Bend your hand away from you so your fingers point down toward the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to a straight, neutral position. Repeat 10 times. Do this up to three times a day.

Warm-up stretches

Do these warm-up stretches if you have recovered from carpal tunnel syndrome, do not have any pain or numbness, and want to prevent a recurrence. 

Rotate your wrist up, down, and from side to side. Repeat 4 times.

Stretch your fingers far apart. Relax them, and then stretch them again. Repeat 4 times.

Stretch your thumb by pulling it back gently, holding it, and then releasing it. Repeat 4 times.

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