Four Carpal Tunnel Exercises to Relieve Discomfort

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be painful, cause weakness and tingling in the hand and wrist, and make doing daily tasks more difficult. At EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region, our fellowship-trained hand and wrist doctors specialize in diagnosing, treating, and helping to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

In addition to precision diagnosis and treatment, EmergeOrtho also offers a comprehensive physical therapy program. Whether you are prescribed conservative or surgical treatment for carpal tunnel relief, there are a number of carpal tunnel exercises to aid in your recovery.

What Is Carpal Tunnel and Why Are My Hands Tingling and Numb?

The pain, numbness, and tingling of the wrist, hands, and arms are a result of compression to the median nerve of the arm. When this happens, the condition is diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are a number of ways that orthopedic physicians and surgeons address carpal tunnel syndrome. Conservative measures may include:

  • Wearing a brace or splint
  • Avoiding certain activities that exacerbate symptoms
  • Prescribing medications (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs) for pain and inflammation
  • Administering steroid injections
  • Establishing carpal tunnel exercises

When the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome do not respond favorably to the conservative methods listed above, or diagnosis is severe, surgical intervention may be required. The surgical procedure is referred to as “carpal tunnel release.”

Many patients experience immediate relief following surgery, with continued improved outcomes over the months of full recovery.

Four Carpal Tunnel Exercises For Relief and Strengthening

Whether carpal tunnel syndrome is addressed conservatively or operatively, special hand and wrist exercises can be helpful in diminishing symptoms, encouraging healing, and preventing further progression of the condition.

  1. Wrist Extensor Stretch
    A wrist extensor is simple to practice. Begin by extending the arm palm-up and bend your wrist back toward your forearm, as if mimicking a “stop motion.” Use your free hand to gently stretch the bent hand and wrist. Make sure not to hyperextend the wrist. Only apply pressure to the bent wrist until you feel a stretch (not severe pain). Hold and release the stretch for 15-second intervals. This can be done daily and is especially helpful as a warm-up and cool-down stretch.
    A female athlete in a blue shirt practices a wrist extensor stretch.
  2. Wrist Flexor Stretch
    Wrist flexor stretches are the opposite of wrist extensors. Rather than straightening the arm with the palm facing up, bend the palm facing down. Use your free hand to gently stretch the bent wrist toward you. Hold and release the stretch for 15-second intervals. Practice daily, especially before participating in an activity that involves gripping. A male patient practices a wrist flexor stretch with the aid of a female orthopedic physician.
  3. Foam-Ball Squeeze
    Squeeze a foam ball (with or without exercise cords attached), while keeping the neck and shoulder relaxed. With the elbow positioned at a 90-degree flexion state, squeeze the foam ball for one second in your palm and then release. Practice the stretch for 30 seconds to one-minute twice daily for three months or based on your orthopedic physician’s suggestion. A hand squeezes a foam ball to help improve carpal tunnel syndrome.
  4. Median Nerve Glides
    Applying heat to your hand is recommended prior to practicing six-step median nerve glide exercises. After 15 minutes of heat application, 1. Make a fist. 2. Extend your palm, fingers, and thumb pointing up. 3. With straight fingers bend the hand back toward your forearm. 4. With the fingers and wrist bent, extend your thumb. 5. Keeping your fingers, thumb, and wrist extended, turn your forearm palm facing up. 6. With the fingers, thumb, and wrist extended, gently stretch the thumb with your free hand. Hold each pose for three to seven seconds. Apply crushed ice or frozen peas to the hand for 20 minutes after completion of the exercises. A hand makes a fist, the first position in a six-part median nerve glide exercise for carpal tunnel syndrome.

For more carpal tunnel exercises and stretches or to get help for carpal tunnel syndrome, request a consultation. Or, call us any time at 919-220-5255 for any questions.