If you are reading this article, you or someone you know and care about is probably all too familiar with the tingling, numbness, and burning pain that comes with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). And you are not alone, as many as 10 million Americans1 are affected by this condition and it is one of the leading causes of lost time at work in the United States.
It can be frustrating when even the simplest of tasks, like opening a jar or holding small objects, become challenging due to ongoing wrist or hand discomfort. But don't worry, as CTS can be managed and you can take steps to alleviate the pain.
You've probably tried everything from wrist splints to physical therapy, but nothing seems to provide long-lasting relief. Well, we've got some good news for you! We've compiled a list of 10 remedies for carpal tunnel pain relief that might just surprise you. These are solutions that you may not have heard of before or haven't had a chance to try yet. So, get ready to say goodbye to pain and discomfort and hello to a better quality of life!
- Red Light Therapy has been studied and found to have a positive effect on acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain and is effective in treating conditions such as tendinitis and chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Cold therapy, such as applying ice packs or taking ice baths, can be effective in reducing inflammation and pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Heat therapy, through methods such as using hand warmers or immersing the hand in warm water, can also provide pain relief by improving circulation and promoting healing in damaged tissues.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome? Let us explain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist. The median nerve controls movement and sensation in the hand and fingers. CTS can occur as a result of everyday activities such as the frequent use of vibrating hand tools, playing a musical instrument, or manual labor. The cause of CTS is not always clear, and there is some debate over whether typing or computer work can cause CTS.
The symptoms of CTS typically start out slowly and gradually. It may affect just one or both of your hands. You may feel numbness or tingling in your fingers, particularly in your index fingers and thumbs. You may also feel an uncomfortable sensation or weakness in your wrists. CTS pain can become a disabling problem that makes everyday tasks a challenge. It usually affects only one hand, but it can also occur simultaneously in both wrists.
9 Carpal Tunnel Pain Relief management strategies
1. Red Light/Infrared Therapy for Hands, Fingers, and Wrists
Red Light/Infrared Therapy systems are considered to be Class II medical devices and have been granted FDA clearance for a variety of therapeutic benefits, including:
- Increasing circulation
- Relieving pain
- Relaxing muscles
- Relieving muscle spasms
- Relieving the aches and stiffness caused by arthritis
These benefits make Red Light/Infrared Therapy an effective option for those suffering from issues with their fingers, hand, and/or wrist caused by arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other painful conditions.
Are Red Light Therapy Devices Any Good?
Red Light Therapy devices, also known as Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) devices, have been studied for their potential benefits in managing pain, including carpal tunnel pain.
According to a review of over 4,000 studies on www.pubmed.gov 2, it was concluded that the majority of laboratory and clinical studies have demonstrated that LLLT has a positive effect on acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain, including tendinitis and chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms of how LLLT works to manage pain, the available evidence suggests that it may be beneficial for individuals experiencing carpal tunnel pain and other types of musculoskeletal pain. It's important to check with your doctor before trying any alternative treatment.
Pros of Red Light/Infrared Therapy for Hands:
- Fast-acting pain relief for musculoskeletal issues
- Positive effect on acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain
- Amenable to treatment of tendinitis and chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome
- Supports and accelerates the body's own innate healing processes to gradually regenerate nerves and tissues
- Helps to improve sensation in fingers, hand, and wrist
- Can help heal skin, nerves, tendons, cartilage and bones
Cons of Red Light/Infrared Therapy for Hands:
- No significant cons are reported in the literature.
In conclusion, Red Light/Infrared Therapy is an effective and safe treatment option for individuals suffering from hand, finger, and wrist conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. It provides fast-acting pain relief, supports the body's healing processes, and improves sensation in the affected area. It is also non-invasive and doesn't require any downtime, making it a convenient option for many people.
Our Recommended Red Light Device For Carpal Tunnel Pain Relief
Novaa Light Pro
Novaa Light Pro is a portable red light therapy device that is clinically proven to activate deep healing of tissues, muscles, tendons and bones, and reduce inflammation. It is FDA Class 2 cleared, and recommended by doctors.
|Wavelengths||630+660NM and 850NM|
|Power||Medical grade LEDs|
|Irradiance||>100mW/cm2 at surface of the LEDs|
|Battery life||Not specified|
|FDA clearance||Class 2|
|Satisfaction Guarantee||60 days|
“I was skeptical about red light therapy, but this device from NovaaLab gave me great relief from my nerve pain for the first time in years!“– Roger
The device combines deep red and infrared lights at wavelengths of 630+660 NM and 850 NM respectively. It is easy to use, and can be used for only 5 minutes a day. The device is small, powerful and efficient, and comes with a 2-year warranty, 60 days satisfaction guarantee or full refund.
2. Splints and Braces for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Discover how splints and braces can alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms and improve hand function by keeping the wrist in a neutral position, and learn about the features to look for in a wrist splint.
Splints and Braces for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Wearing a splint or brace while you sleep can help alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms by keeping the wrist in a neutral position, reducing pressure on the median nerve.
- Wearing a splint or brace during the day can also reduce pain when performing activities that may aggravate the condition, such as typing.
What to Look for in a Wrist Splint:
- A splint and a brace are similar assistive devices, with a splint having a solid or hard component to prevent movement and support an injured area, while a brace is softer.
- Splints with a hard insert under the hand and wrist are the best for carpal tunnel pain relief as it keeps the wrist in a position that eases compression on the median nerve.
- The splint should cover from below the wrist to the middle of the hand and have a hole and separate area for the thumb.
- The wrist should be unable to move much, and the splint should be tight enough to prevent movement but comfortable enough to wear and not cut off circulation.
- These types of wrist splints are available over the counter.
3. Temperature Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Temperature treatments can be a simple and effective way to manage carpal tunnel pain. Here are two options to try:
Cold Therapy: Applying cold to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling. To try this at home, you can use an ice pack or an ice bath.
- Ice Packs: Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to your affected wrist for no more than 15 minutes at a time. Repeat this 2-3 times a day as needed. Make sure the ice pack doesn't touch your skin directly.
- Ice Bath: Wrap your hand and wrist in a towel and gently place them in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes.
Heat Therapy: Applying heat to the affected area can also provide pain relief and help promote healing. Here are some ways to try heat therapy at home:
- Wear gloves or mittens outside in the cold.
- Wear fingerless gloves inside that also cover the wrists
- Keep a hand warmer nearby
- Keep the inside heated and warm
- Immerse your hand in warm water (between 92- and 100-degrees F) and gently move and stretch your hand in the water. Repeat this heated bath three to four times daily.
It is important to note that cold therapy should be used if the wrist is red or swollen and heat therapy can be used to treat the underlying inflammation that causes carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also important to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.
4. Shake it off (gently) for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain Relief
Relieving nighttime pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome can be as simple as gently shaking your hand and wrist or hanging your hand over the side of the bed. This can help to relieve pressure on the median nerve. This simple exercise can be done before going to bed to relieve any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.
It's important to note that this is not the only exercise that can help relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Other exercises such as wrist stretches, hand and finger exercises and range of motion exercises can also be beneficial. They can help to improve flexibility and strength in the wrist, hand, and fingers which can help to reduce the pressure on the median nerve and alleviate pain and discomfort.
When combined with a splint, these exercises can be even more effective. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist to develop a personalized exercise plan that is appropriate for your specific condition and needs.
5. Exercise, Stretch, and Strengthen for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain Relief
Exercise, stretching, and strengthening your hand and wrist can be an effective way to alleviate the pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. However, it is important to consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise routine as certain movements may exacerbate symptoms. It is also essential to follow a personalized exercise plan that is appropriate for your specific condition and needs.
Nerve-gliding exercises are an effective way to help alleviate carpal tunnel pain. These exercises involve sliding the median nerve up and down the carpal tunnel. These exercises are often combined with stretching and strengthening movements to increase blood flow to the hand, delay surgery, and prevent nerve scarring after surgery. The American Academy for Orthopedic Surgeons has a .PDF carpal tunnel exercise sheet with step-by-step picture instructions for this type of exercise.
A common nerve-gliding exercise is a wrist extension stretch. To perform this exercise:
- Extend your arm, palm down, straight in front of you.
- Bend the wrist up in a “stop” signal.
- Bend your hand back towards you using gentle pressure from your other hand.
- Hold the position for 15 seconds, and repeat five times.
- Do the same on the other hand. It's important to do these exercises slowly and gently, never push through pain, and always consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine.
8 Home Exercises To Fix Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
The best hand and wrist stretches to relieve numbness, tingling, and burning in your hand from carpal tunnel syndrome.
6. Rest for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain Relief
Rest is often overlooked as a solution for carpal tunnel syndrome, however, it plays a crucial role in managing complications and pain caused by this condition. Repetitive tasks such as typing or using tools can trigger symptoms, so it's important to take regular breaks and engage in activities that allow your hands and wrists to rest.
One simple way to ensure you take breaks is to set a timer to remind you to stretch your hands, move your wrists, and get blood flowing in your arms. This can help to prevent symptoms from getting worse. Additionally, try to keep your wrists in a neutral position whenever possible to avoid straining the median nerve. This can be done by consciously resting your hands and wrists throughout the day.
Numbness, tingling, and wrist pain from carpal tunnel syndrome can be frustrating, but there are many alternatives to surgery that are both simple and effective. If you're experiencing these symptoms and suspect that you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, it is important to consult with a pain management specialist who can evaluate and treat your condition.
7. Topical Treatments
One of the most popular and easily accessible solutions for carpal tunnel pain relief is the use of topical ointments and creams that contain menthol. These products, such as Biofreeze or Tiger Balm, can be applied directly to the affected area to provide temporary pain relief and a cooling sensation. This can be especially helpful during the day, as it is more convenient to apply at work than taking a cold or warm water bath.
- Easy to apply and convenient to use during the day
- Provides fast and temporary pain relief
- Cooling sensation can be soothing
- Does not treat the underlying condition
- May not provide long-term relief
- May need to be reapplied throughout the day
It is important to note that while these topical products can provide temporary pain relief, it is important to address and prevent the underlying cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as overuse or excess fluid build-up. Additionally, it is important to use these products as directed and be mindful of any possible allergic reactions or side effects.
8. Pain Relievers for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain Relief
Pain relief medication can be helpful for managing the pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can provide safe and effective symptom relief. These medications, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help reduce inflammation and pain, but they do not cure carpal tunnel syndrome.
Topical pain medications that contain menthol, such as Aspercreme and Biofreeze, can also provide temporary carpal tunnel pain relief. These products can be applied to the affected area throughout the day to reduce discomfort. Similar to ice treatments, menthol-based products provide a soothing, cooling sensation that is fast-acting and convenient.
- Available over the counter
- Safe to use
- Can be used in conjunction with other treatments
- Only provide temporary relief
- Should be used under the guidance of your doctor
- Can have side effects such as stomach upset and allergic reactions
- Regular use of NSAIDs may have negative effects on the kidneys and liver
In conclusion, pain relievers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and topical menthol-based products can be an effective way to manage the pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. These medications can provide relief from inflammation and pain, making it easier to perform daily tasks. However, it is important to note that they only provide temporary relief and should be used under the guidance of a doctor. It is also important to be aware of the potential side effects and to use them with caution. It is important to consider other options such as exercises, stretches, and ergonomic changes to manage carpal tunnel syndrome in a comprehensive way.
9. Medications, Topical Ointments, and Injections
When over-the-counter (OTC) medications don't provide enough relief from carpal tunnel pain, it may be time to consider other options. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can reduce inflammation and provide some pain relief, but it's best to use them in conjunction with other treatments. Topical analgesics containing menthol, like BioFreeze or Tiger Balm, have also been found to have a positive effect on nerve pain symptoms.
For more severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be an option. These injections are given by a doctor directly into the carpal tunnel and can help reduce nerve pain by calming the nerve signals and reducing flare-ups. However, it's important to note that the relief is temporary and there are side effects such as elevated blood sugar, headaches, and tendon and ligament damage. Consult with your doctor to see if corticosteroid injections may be the right option for you.
In conclusion, there are many different options available for managing carpal tunnel syndrome pain, including exercise and stretching, rest, splints and braces, temperature treatments, and various medications, ointments, and injections. Each of these remedies have their own set of pros and cons, and it is important to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new treatment plan.
However, one of the most effective and non-invasive options that many people are turning to is Red Light/Infrared Therapy. This therapy uses low-level light therapy to increase circulation, relieve pain, relax muscles, and relieve muscle spasms, making it a great option for those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and other hand and wrist issues. Additionally, it supports and accelerates the body's own healing process, making it a great option for those looking for long-term relief.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed or squeezed at the wrist. This can cause symptoms such as tingling, numbness, weakness, and pain in the hand, wrist, and fingers.
What are some common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Some common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include repetitive motions, such as typing or using hand tools, certain medical conditions (such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis), pregnancy, and injury to the wrist.
Are there any alternative methods for carpal tunnel pain relief besides surgery?
Yes, there are several alternative methods for carpal tunnel pain relief, such as splints and braces, temperature treatments, exercise, rest, pain relievers, and Red Light Therapy. While surgery can be an effective option, many people find that these alternatives are able to provide significant relief and may be a better option for them.
Red Light Therapy has been found to be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation, increase circulation, and promote healing of damaged nerves and tissues. It has been FDA cleared as a Class II medical device and it has been a popular alternative treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.