How Can I Relieve Carpal Tunnel Pain?

Reviewed on 4/22/2022
Woman at a computer holding her wrist in pain
Home remedies and treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include rest, avoiding pain-triggering activities, wrist splints, ice, NSAIDS, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, steroid shots, surgery, and others.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of entrapment nerve damage or dysfunction (neuropathy) in which a peripheral nerve is pressed or squeezed.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist, causing pain, weakness, and numbness in the fingers, hands, wrists, and occasionally the arms.  

Carpal tunnel syndrome usually doesn’t go away on its own without at least rest and some conservative intervention. 

11 Treatments & Home Remedies for Carpal Tunnel Pain

Home remedies to relieve carpal tunnel pain include:

  • Resting the hand and wrist
  • Avoiding activities that may trigger symptoms
  • Wrist splints to keep hands in a neutral position
  • Ice 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief 
  • Yoga
    • May help reduce pain and improve grip strength 
  • Alternative therapies (these may help some people but their effectiveness has not been proven)

If home remedies are not adequate to relieve pain from carpal tunnel syndrome, medical treatments may include: 

  • Steroid shots or pills (such as prednisone) to help control inflammation and swelling
  • Anesthetic injections (lidocaine)
  • Carpal bone mobilization 
    • A physical or occupational therapist moves the bones in the wrist around in a special way
    • There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of this treatment
  • Surgery
    • Cutting the ligament that stretches across the wrist to form the tunnel

What Are Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include: 

  • Pain in the thumb and the index, middle, and ring fingers
    • Pain and tingling may extend to the whole hand or up to the wrist and forearm
  • Burning or tingling sensations in the thumb and the index, middle, and ring fingers
    • Symptoms are usually worse at night 
    • Symptoms often affect both hands, but one hand might be worse 
  • Stiff fingers
  • Hand weakness/difficulty grasping items
  • Inability to make a fist
  • Shock-like sensations
  • Itchy palms
  • Fingers feel swollen even though little or no swelling is apparent
  • Changes in skin color of the affected hand
  • Changes in hand temperature (colder or warmer)
  • Inability to determine between hot and cold by touch (in severe cases)
  • Pain and tingling that extends past the elbow to the shoulder (rare)

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by increased pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel. Factors that can contribute to this increased pressure include:  

Risk factors associated with developing carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Workplace factors
    • Repetitive hand and wrist use
    • Prolonged wrist extension and flexion
    • Sustained wrist or palm pressure
    • Forceful hand and wrist use
    • Working with vibrating tools
    • Use of hands in cold temperatures
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis of the hand
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Being female
  • Pregnancy
  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Preexisting median mononeuropathy
  • Low thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Aromatase inhibitor use
Reviewed on 4/22/2022
Image Source: iStock Images