Have you ever experienced pain in your wrist, palm or fingers? Does your wrist throb after a long day in front of the computer? You may be experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. CTS is a common nerve condition that affects 1% to 5% of the adult population. However, many people with mild to moderate CTS may never seek medical treatment or even a diagnosis.
If you feel that your symptoms are manageable and don’t want to have surgery, these natural remedies might alleviate the pain so you can get back to your life.
1. Frequent Breaks
Whether you work remotely or in an office, odds are you spend the day typing, clicking a mouse, texting and talking on the phone. These activities require repetitive movements that can cause strain on your hands, wrists and arms. Eventually, these can lead to carpal tunnel. However, taking frequent breaks can prevent and CTS and minimize symptoms if you already have it.
Every hour or so, take a break from whatever you’re doing and either stretch out your wrists and hands or allow them to relax completely. Use speaker phone, talk to text and other innovative solutions to continue working and relieve symptoms. Even a few minutes of rest can make a huge difference.
If you can’t take a break from what you’re doing, the next best thing to do is relax your grip. Consciously release tension while writing, typing and texting and try to keep your wrist in a neutral position. Consider placing a foam wrist rest pad in front of your computer to improve stability and encourage relaxation while you type.
You might also use less force to type, text or complete other work-related tasks. Tap keyboards, screens and other machines more gently and use a soft-grip pen or pencil grip to further reduce fatigue. Meanwhile, if you flex your hand to complete certain tasks, avoid flexing your hands or wrists to the extreme in either direction.
Cold conditions can lead to stiffness and exacerbate CTS symptoms, which is why winter can be such a pain for those with this painful condition. If you’re at home, cranking up the thermostat might relieve some pain. However, if you’re back in the office, you might have to find an alternative solution.
Keep your hands warm by slipping on some fingerless gloves. Wear long sleeves and wear them so they envelope your wrists while you type and text. You might even bring an electric blanket or heating pad to work to keep your entire body warm while you sit at your desk. Otherwise, a small space heater might do the trick.
Whether you’re actively battling CTS symptoms or experiencing some relief, it’s important to stretch your hands and wrists to improve blood flow, strengthen your muscles and reduce pain. Some doctors recommend physical therapy or nerve exercises depending on your symptoms. However, you can perform a few simple exercises on your own to reap similar benefits.
Stretch your sore arm out in front of you and use your other hand to pull your fingers back toward your body. Try flexing your fingers down, then up, holding each position for about 30 seconds to allow your hand to rest and release tension.
You can also reduce swelling and pain by raising your hands above your heart. This simple trick will decrease blood flow to your wrists, palms and fingers to minimize fluid buildup and inflammation. Within a few seconds, you might notice that your wrists have stopped throbbing and you can flex your hands without pain.
Unfortunately, this temporary remedy will only work so long as your hands are elevated. Once you go back to typing or texting, your symptoms may return in a matter of minutes. Still, raising your hands between tasks or on breaks may give you much-needed relief, even if it’s short-lived.
6. Laser Acupuncture
If you’re looking for a treatment that’s cutting edge, but still more natural than surgery, try laser acupuncture. This non-invasive therapy uses low-level lasers to reduce inflammation and promote wound healing, pain relief and peripheral nerve regeneration. Many studies have concluded that this method helps people manage their CTS and one even found it just as effective as ultrasound in regards to relieving symptoms.
Unlike traditional acupuncture, low-level laser therapy doesn’t cause any tingling or pain during treatment sessions. Plus, if you’re also battling headaches and musculoskeletal pain, your physician or health specialist might use laser acupuncture to treat these conditions, too.
Seeking a Permanent Remedy
While natural remedies can improve symptoms of CTS, they can only provide short-term relief. If pain, swelling and numbness persist, it’s best to see your doctor and have them recommend more traditional treatment methods. They may be able to prescribe oral or topical medications, physical therapy or surgery to relieve pressure on the medial nerve.
While a surgical procedure may sound invasive, it’s highly effective and most people who go under the knife don’t have any complications or CTS symptoms afterwards. Thus, seeking medical attention may be the best long-term solution for managing pain.