Carpal Tunnel Syndrome involves the compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can result in pain, loss of sensation and weakness in the hand. Seeing that you use your hands for almost every activity of daily living, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be quite disabling if not properly treated. Fortunately, physicians are able to diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and grade it’s severity with nerve testing studies. In general, mild to moderate levels of median nerve compression respond fairly well to night-splinting, corticosteroid injections and home exercises. However, severe cases often require prompt surgery to prevent nerve damage. In addition to your doctor’s recommended treatment plan, performing a home exercise program for mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome resulted in significantly less surgeries than those who did not according to The Journal of Hand Therapy. So why not ask your doctor or therapist if it is safe to perform these exercises? If approved by your healthcare provider, here is the simple exercise progression that you should perform throughout the day to help improve symptoms and delay progression of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Median Nerve and Extensor Tendon Gliding Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Hold each step for 5-30 seconds at a time. Do not continue if you experience numbness, burning or tingling in your hands. Caution: This exercise may cause further nerve damage if you have severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Hold you hand in the “neutral” position, meaning that your wrist is straight. Bend all of your fingers and make a tight fist. Hold this position
Open your fingers and hold your wrist in the neutral position, but extend or force your thumb and fingers upwards as far as possible without moving your wrist. Hold this position.
Extend your wrist and fingers as far upwards as possible, but do not extend your thumb. Hold this position.
Keep your wrist and fingers extended, but now extend you thumb upwards as far as possible. Hold this position.
Keep your wrist and entire hand extended, but this time, pull your thumb even further backwards with your other hand. Hold this position.
Repeat this progression 3-4 times per day to help treat your symptoms and prevent further progression of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Remember, do not continue these exercises if they cause pain or discomfort. Continue working with your doctor and therapist for optimal treatment.