How Can I Relieve Carpal Tunnel Pain?

How Can I Relieve Carpal Tunnel Pain?

Posted on 03/19/2018

If you are suffering from numbness, tingling or pain in your fingers, hands or wrists, then you could be one of the estimated 6 million Americans currently suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – or CTS. This common condition has a number of different neurological side effects, including numbness and prickling of the skin. However, CTS is a progressive condition and the symptoms tend to worsen over time. When this happens, pain can quickly become the most unpleasant and debilitating effect of living with carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome and what causes it?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the carpal tunnel – a narrow passageway that runs between your forearm and palm – becomes compressed. When this happens, the median nerve that runs throughout the length of the carpal tunnel also becomes pinched, and this interrupts the flow of signals from the brain to the hand and vice versa. The patient experiences this interruption as a change in the sensations felt in the fingers and hands, and they may also find their movement in this area limited.

In many cases, it is not always known what has caused the carpal tunnel to become compressed. However, studies have found specific groups of people to be at increased risk of suffering from CTS. These include people who:

-         Are pregnant

-         Have been diagnosed with medical conditions including arthritis and diabetes

-         Have been diagnosed with RSI or who work/take part in recreational activities that place repetitive strain on their fingers, hands and wrists

-         Have a family history of the condition

-         Have had a trauma to their hand or wrist

-         Are aged 55 and over

CTS is also shown to affect more women than men

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect patients in slightly different ways, depending on the extent to which the median nerve is compressed and the types of signals that are being interrupted. Many people find that the effects also fluctuate in severity. Some of the most common symptoms of CTS include:

-         Numbness

-         Tingling

-         Sensation of prickling/pins and needles

-         Weakness in the fingers, hand and/or wrist

-         Pain in the aforementioned area

The type of pain experienced by a CTS sufferer can also vary widely. Some patients experience chronic, ongoing aches that are severe enough to distract them or keep them awake. Others may find that a dull ache is accompanied by periods of acute, stabbing pain, particularly when trying to use the affected hand.

Why is carpal tunnel syndrome painful?

Although not all patients will experience pain with CTS, those that do usually do so for several reasons. The first is that there is usually some swelling and inflammation associated with the condition, normally around the area where the carpal tunnel passageway is constricted. Any type of inflammation can cause someone to feel pain.

Secondly, the neurons that transmit pain and movement signals throughout the nervous system become interrupted and confused. This can change the physical sensations experienced and cause the sufferer to feel a heightened sense of pain.

How can I relieve carpal tunnel pain?

Although the symptoms of CTS can sometimes disappear of their own accord, if you are living with regular pain it can be very distressing and debilitating. Over the counter pain medications may provide some relief, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may be able to ease some of the inflammation and associated discomfort, but you undoubtedly don’t want to rely on drugs forever. Thankfully, there are some other things that you can do to alleviate some of the pain associated with this condition.

Ice therapy

One of the first things that any doctor will suggest is that you try some natural remedies. Something that has proven to be successful in eliminating some of the pain of CTS is the use of ice packs. Ice is well known for being able to reduce inflammation, and using it against your hand and wrist should help reduce pressure on the carpal tunnel, and in turn, the underlying nerve.

Wear gloves

Although ice can help to relieve the inflammation in your hand and wrist, when they are permanently cold they can quickly become stiff and painful. If you suffer from CTS, you may benefit from wearing gloves regularly, particularly if you usually have poor circulation and cold hands!

Stretch and relax

Carpal tunnel syndrome is often closely linked to RSI – repetitive strain injury, that causes swelling and inflammation in the hand and wrist. By taking regular breaks to stretch and relax the muscles and tendons and tendons in the hand, you can reduce swelling and thereby reduce the pain it causes.

Invest in wrist supports

Wrist supports work by keeping your wrists straight, which can help to relieve the pressure placed on the carpal tunnel and median nerve. Many people find that wrist supports help to relieve their CTS pain, particularly during times when they have no choice but to use their hands and wrists.


If you are suffering from pain related to CTS, and your home efforts to improve your condition aren’t helping, you may need professional assistance. Contact us and arrange an appointment with our nearest specialist to discuss what alternative treatments may be available to you.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.