Wear a wrist brace at night
I’m one of millions of women over the age of 45 who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel—numbness, tingling, pain and eventually weakness—occur when the median nerve is pinched as it passes through the “tunnel” of your wrist.
Because I definitely want to avoid surgery, I’ve done a lot of research into the best home treatments.
Studies show that a three-week stint of wearing wrist braces at night helps alleviate mild to moderate carpal tunnel symptoms. Wrist braces are a low-cost, low-risk home treatment, and a good place to start.
At the very least, they prevent my annoying nightly dead hands (I have carpal tunnel in both wrists, lucky me!), the symptom that bothers me the most.
I looked at a lot of products and finally bought the Wellgate for Women PerfectFit Wrist Supports (image above) several years ago. They’re made with memory foam around a rigid wrist support that holds my wrist in a neutral position. Two large Velcro straps help me adjust the fit so they’re snug but not uncomfortable. I don’t have any problem sleeping in them at night.
Right and left braces are sold separately.
By the way, I’m not connected to Wellgate. I just like their product.
Other home remedies for carpal tunnel
The key is to reduce any swelling or inflammation that might be putting pressure on your median nerve. Try one or more of the following:
- To reduce pain and swelling, use over-the-counter pain relievers ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve).
- For local pain treatment, use a menthol-based topical analgesic, such as Tiger Balm, Biofreeze or Salonpas.
- To decrease inflammation, apply an ice pack for 15 minutes several times a day.
- To reduce swelling, elevate your hands and wrists frequently throughout the day.
- To ease stiffness, keep your fingers and wrists warm. Wear fingerless gloves, and use pocket hand warmers.
- Take frequent breaks (every 15 minutes) from repetitive hand use, like typing, texting, writing, pruning, weed whacking, or playing a musical instrument. Rotate your wrists and stretch your fingers.
- And relax your grip! If you write a lot, use a soft-grip pen. I love the Pilot Dr. Grip.
These tips are only for mild to moderate symptoms.
If your carpal tunnel symptoms are frequent and interfere with your daily activities, and especially if you notice weakness in your hand and fingers, seek medical attention. Over time, the median nerve can be permanently damaged if the pressure on it is not alleviated in some way.
The Mayo Clinic has a good overview of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and its treatments.