Carpal tunnel syndrome is an injury to the wrist that can occur for a variety of reasons. Common causes include wrist trauma or injury, overactive pituitary gland, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, repeated use of handheld vibrating devices, and other triggers. The pain, tingling, and numbness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome are caused by pinching the median nerve in the wrist that runs through the arm. The median arm nerve is embedded in the carpal tunnel of your wrist, which is where its name comes from.
Method 1 of 3: Kinesiology tape bandage
Step 1. Measure out the first piece of tape
For the first piece of tape, measure the length from the middle of your fingers (with your palm facing up) to the crook of your elbow. At one end, bend off a two-inch section. Cut two small triangles at the kink at the end of the tape. This means that when you unfold, you will have two diamond-shaped holes in your tape.
- These two diamond-shaped holes should be right next to each other and about one to two centimeters wide in the middle.
- The end with the two holes is called the "anchor piece".
Step 2. Anchor the tape to your fingers
Only peel off the protective film at the end with the 'anchor' that is provided with the holes. Hold your arm in front of you with your wrist pointing upwards and slide your two middle fingers through the two holes in the tape. Make sure the sticky side is facing the palm of your hand.
Press the end of the anchor onto the skin surrounding your fingers
Step 3. Place the tape over your wrist and arm
You may need a second person to help you affix the tape to your arm because the arm should be fully extended during this procedure. Once your wrist is fully extended, you can peel off the back of the rest of the tape while you stick it to your skin.
- To extend your arm to its full length, keep it straight in front of you, palm facing up. Then use the other hand and pull the palm down so that your wrist is flexed. Your hand should be at a 90 degree angle to your arm.
- DO NOT stretch or apply tension to the tape when applying it to the skin. Simply remove the protective film on the back and stick the tape on the skin.
- As you stretch your wrist, you will notice that the tape creates some natural creases or puckers on your wrist. This ensures that you have full freedom of movement for your hand and wrist while the tape is being applied.
Step 4. Cut a second piece of tape
The second piece of tape should have exactly the same length and appearance as the first piece of tape - including the two finger holes. This time, too, the same two middle fingers are put through the small holes, but the tape is now stuck over the back of the hand and the top of the arm with the palm facing down.
- As with the first piece, peel off the protective film and slide the tape over your fingers.
- Press the anchor of the tape onto the skin around your fingers.
Step 5. Put the second piece of tape on your arm
Again, fully extend your wrist, but this time the palm should be facing up and the hand should be bent toward the inside of the arm. Slowly remove the protective film from the tape as you stick it to your skin in this position.
DO NOT stretch or tighten the tape while applying it to the skin
Step 6. Prepare a third tape
The third piece of tape should be about the same length as the first and second pieces, but there is no need to cut holes for your fingers. As soon as the tape is cut to the right length, you should break the protective film on the back exactly in the middle so that you can see the adhesive layer of the tape.
Step 7. Put on the third piece of tape
Hold your arm in front of you, palm up, and extend your wrist fully. Place the middle part of your tape on your inner wrist just below your palm. Because of the width of the tape, it will likely cover part of your palm as well. Slowly peel off the adhesive film on one side and stick the tape on your arm. Repeat the same procedure for the other side.
- DO NOT pull or stretch the tape while sticking it on your arm.
- Because of the angle of your hand, the ends of the tape may cross on the back of your arm.
Step 8. Make sure you have full freedom of movement in your hand and wrist
The purpose of the tape is to open the carpal tunnel and relieve the pressure on your median nerve. The point is not to apply extra pressure (that's why you didn't apply any pressure when you attached the tape to your skin). You should therefore still have full mobility in your wrist after the tape is affixed. If you are unable to do this, you will need to re-apply the tape.
Method 2 of 3: The use of firm sports tapes
Step 1. Find the right type of tape
For this type of taping, you need an adhesive, non-stretchable (firm) sports tape that is about 38 mm wide. A hypoallergenic tape underlay is highly recommended for this type of tape. This tape underlay can prevent skin irritation from the sports tape.
- To prevent pain when the tape is removed later, consider shaving the hair on the back of your hand. Shave the hair for at least 12 hours before applying the tape.
- The reason strong sports tape is used is to prevent wrist movement while it is in place with the tape.
- Wash and dry your hand before applying the tape.
Step 2. Glue on the anchor pieces of the tape
The first piece must go around your entire wrist like a bracelet. The second piece of tape should go around your palm and the back of your hand, just above your thumb. Apply the tape well, but not too tightly, to the skin. The blood circulation should not be interrupted by these pieces of tape.
You can easily estimate the length of tape required for each anchor section. It's okay if the individual pieces overlap
Step 3. Stick the ‘dorsal crosses’ of the tape on your wrist
First, position your wrist in a neutral position. Then place two pieces of tape over your hand and wrist so that the end result looks like an X on the back of the hand. A piece should run down from the starting position on your thumb to the outside of your wrist. The second piece should go right under your pinky finger to the inside of your wrist.
To keep your wrist in a neutral position, you can extend your hand straight from your arm and then bend it up about 30 ° (with your palm facing down)
Step 4. Remove the tape after a maximum of 48 hours
Do not leave the stiff tape on your hand and wrist for more than 48 hours. Be sure to remove it sooner if blood circulation is compromised or pain is caused by the taping. Remove the tape with blunt-nosed scissors (bandage scissors) or peel the ends off with your fingers.
- Peel the tape in the opposite direction from which it was attached.
- It can also help to gently pull the skin in the opposite direction that the tape is being pulled.
Method 3 of 3: Research alternative treatments
Step 1. Schedule regular breaks
While there is no direct evidence that carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a computer's keyboard and mouse, if you already have carpal tunnel syndrome, these items certainly help make your wrist hurt more. As a result, if you have to use the keyboard and mouse, or handle any other type of equipment that puts strain on your wrist, take frequent breaks.
- Your regular breaks can be used in conjunction with many other treatment options.
- During breaks, consider rotating your wrists or stretching your palms and fingers to keep them flexible and loose.
- When typing on a keyboard, keep your wrist straight and avoid bending your hands and stretching them up to type in your wrist.
Step 2. Use cold packs
Cold generally helps reduce inflammation. Put an ice pack or cold pack on your wrist. This can temporarily help you relieve the pain of your carpal tunnel syndrome. Apply the cold packs for ten to fifteen minutes, but avoid direct contact with the skin. First, wrap the ice pack in a towel.
Alternatively, you can work on warming your hands as often as possible. Often times, working in a cold room can cause even more stiffness and pain. Consider wearing fingerless gloves when using the keyboard
Step 3. Wear a splint on your wrist
Carpal tunnel syndrome can get worse while you sleep. Most people sleep with their wrists bent, which makes their pre-existing wrist problems worse. Wearing a hand splint while sleeping is an option to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
- The splints are designed to keep your wrists in their correct and straight position.
- Also try to avoid sleeping on your hand during the night because the extra pressure can make the pain in your wrists and hands even worse.
Step 4. Practice yoga
Yoga has been shown to reduce wrist pain. In people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, the strength to grip the hands can also be improved. Yoga poses that focus on stretching, strengthening and balancing the joints in the upper body are suitable.
Step 5. Try massage therapy
Massage therapies from recognized therapists can help relieve pain associated with muscular dysfunction. Massage can improve blood circulation and drain the fluid that has built up in the wrist and surrounding muscles. Start with a 30 minute massage. Please note that you may need three to five treatments before you can see any results.
Step 6. Treat your trigger points
In some cases, the carpal tunnel syndrome can also be triggered by trigger points - or more commonly known as muscle nodes. These lumps can appear on the wrist, forearm, neck or shoulders. You can apply the pressure yourself by watching out for sensitive areas that keep causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Sustained pressure for 30 seconds can gradually reduce the pain and discomfort. It is important to find and treat as many sensitive areas as possible. Use this technique once a day until the pain goes away.
Step 7. Consider ultrasound or hand therapy
Physiotherapy or occupational therapy can help relieve pressure on the median nerve and reduce pain intensity. Ultrasound therapy can also be used to increase the temperature in the area of the carpal tunnel, which in turn can help relieve pain.
Both types of therapy must be continued for at least several weeks before the first improvements occur
Step 8. Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSDAIDs)
NSDAIDs are drugs such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil®, Motrin IB®, etc.) that provide temporary pain relief in carpal tunnel syndrome. NSDAIDs are available over the counter, and the generic versions are usually relatively inexpensive.
Always consult your doctor before taking any new medication
Step 9. Ask your doctor about corticosteroids
Corticosteroids are drugs that your doctor can inject directly into your wrist. Corticosteroids are also known for their anti-inflammatory and decongestant effects. They relieve pressure on the median nerve and make your wrist feel less painful.
Although corticosteroids are available in oral (tablet) form, they are usually not as effective as injections in this form
Step 10. Talk to your doctor about surgery
People with severe and chronic carpal tunnel syndrome may consider surgery. Surgery allows your doctor to relieve pressure on your median nerve by cutting the ligaments that run along the sides of the nerve. Doctors can perform two types of surgery: endoscopic and open surgery.
- During endoscopic surgery, your doctor will insert a small camera into your wrist and use tiny surgical tools to cut the ligaments. Endoscopic surgery is not as extensive as open surgery and it is easier to recover from. This type of surgery does not leave open scars.
- In open surgery, the doctor will open your wrist and palm with an incision so that the carpal tunnel and median nerve are visible. Once your wrist and hand are open, the doctor can cut the ligaments and relieve pressure on the nerve. Because of the long incision, the healing time will be longer and a scar will remain.
- Other operative side effects include incomplete detachment of the nerve from the ligaments. This means that the pain is not completely relieved. Infection in the wound, scars, and damage to the nerves are other possible side effects. Make sure to discuss all of these possible side effects with your doctor before deciding to have surgery.
- You can ask your physical therapist or occupational therapist to bandage the wrist initially so that you can see how the bandage needs to be applied and what the end result will be.
- You can buy kinesiology tape in drug stores and some sports shops, or from online sellers like Amazon.