Carpal tunnel syndrome compresses the median nerve in the wrist. This common problem causes tingling, weakness, and numbing in the affected wrist and hand. Women tend to develop the problem more often than men. One way to get relief from carpal tunnel syndrome is to do hand and wrist exercises. 

Carpal tunnel treatments

Physicians treat carpal tunnel syndrome with exercises and physical therapy. If those treatments don’t work, they can also fix the problem with carpal tunnel surgery. Before doing any exercises, it’s wise to stretch first. Talk to your physician or physical therapist to get their advice before doing any exercises for your carpal tunnel. 

Wrist rotations

Wrist rotation exercises include moving your wrists in circles as you move your hands up, down, right, and left. Rotate your wrists only as much as feels comfortable to you. This stretch can help release tension in your wrist and is an excellent choice to start with before moving on to any more challenging activity. 

Palm and finger stretch

To stretch your fingers, open your palm and spread your fingers widely. Repeat this stretch at least four times on the affected side. 

Thumb push

If your thumb feels stiff and needs a deep stretch, use your other hand to push it back until you get the necessary sensation. Hold for a few counts, then repeat. 

Prayer stretch

Start with your hands in a prayer position, with your fingertips touching the bottom of your chin. Keeping your arms upright, turn your hands and push them toward your waist. You’ll feel the stretch in your wrists. Hold the position for approximately 30 seconds. Repeat as needed. 

Wrist flexor stretch

Hold your hand out with the palm facing up. Using your other hand, bend your affected hand toward the floor. The inside of your wrist will feel the stretch. Hold the stretch for several seconds and repeat. If this stretch brings you relief, do it several times daily.

Wrist extensor stretch

This exercise is the opposite of the flexor stretch. Begin with the palm facing down, then bend the wrist toward the floor to feel a stretch on the top of the wrist. Use your other hand to increase the pressure in the bend. You can repeat this stretch several times daily. 

Stretch the medial nerve

Most carpal tunnel pain comes from compression in the medial nerve. Heat your hand and wrist, then stretch with the previous exercises before the medial nerve glide exercise. If you experience swelling, use ice afterward. 

The exercise begins with your hand in a fist. Then, stretch your fingers while holding your thumb near your index finger. Then, flex your hand back toward the arm. 

As your hand flexes back, move your thumb apart from the fingers. Holding your hand in this position, turn your palm face up and adjust your forearm to accommodate. For additional sensation, pull your thumb back. You can repeat this stretch several times. 

Wrap up

Carpal tunnel pain can be debilitating. You can find some relief with gentle stretches to your wrist, fingers, thumb, and hand. Your physician and physical therapist can help you choose the stretches that will help you the most and recommend other exercises.