How Hand Therapy Can Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a daily obstacle for many, with numbness and/or pain often making it difficult to accomplish routine tasks. While some people find success in alternative treatments like yoga, acupuncture or vitamin supplements, hand therapy is emerging as an objectively effective way to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome.


A comprehensive 2003 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that “current evidence demonstrates a significant benefit from splinting, ultrasound, nerve gliding exercises, carpal bone mobilization, magnetic therapy, and yoga for people with CTS.” Many physical therapists specialize in these areas, undoubtedly serving as a safer and more effective guide than a YouTube tutorial or book. As such, those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome should strongly consider consulting a physical therapist. They can help with areas such as:

General Education

Obviously you wouldn’t spend the bulk of your days in the presence of a physical therapist, so one key area they specialize in is education regarding areas of carpal tunnel syndrome. This knowledge can help sufferers alleviate pain/numbness at home 24/7. Certain areas that the therapists teach include:

  • Optimal wrist positions
  • Proper back and neck posture
  • A “stretch break” routine
  • A general assessment that builds routines or methods around your specifications

Muscle-Increasing Exercises and Tools

Physical therapists use their vast knowledge of muscles and fitness to increase your muscle strength, especially in areas that carpal tunnel is severely affecting. Physical therapists are capable of improving muscles in fingers, hands and forearms specifically, which is effective treatment for sufferers of CTS.

In addition, physical therapists are well-versed in the proper usage of tools like a night splint, which can help reduce discomfort. Hot/cold treatments are another method to reduce pain that a therapist can guide you through — the process is commonly referred to as contrast hydrotherapy, which can decrease inflammation and provide pain relief.

Personalized Lifestyle Adjustments

There are many possible hobbies available to enjoy, from skydiving to painting, but which ones can potentially make CTS worse? Which ones are harmless? It’s always better to consult a physical therapist with case-to-case basis questions. Their knowledge of muscles and how they relate to the improvement and inflammation of CTS makes them the best evaluators of what activities are a no-no and which ones are fine, based on your personal evaluation.

Post-Surgery Aid

While surgery isn’t always necessary for CTS sufferers, those who choose to have it are typically encouraged to work with a physical therapist. Muscles can be weak or entirely incapable after surgery, and a physical therapist can help you progress afterwards, without force that can cause injury or overexertion. After surgery, hand therapy services can help improve mobility and overall function of the wrist and fingers. Regardless of your CTS needs, working with a physical therapist has a clear number of benefits.

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer, and she blogs at Miss Rx. You can see more of her work or get in touch by following @foodierx on Twitter.

4 thoughts on “How Hand Therapy Can Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  1. I'm glad to know that there is therapy for those that suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. I'll have to try these therapy tips if I have another flare-up since they seem like they would be very effective. I'm open to the idea of lifestyle adjustments like you mentioned but I will have to see what is working best for me as I make any necessary changes.

  2. I have a friend who is am amazing pianist, but has recently had a hard time playing because of her wrist pain. She thinks that she has carpal tunnel syndrome and is hesitant to get surgery. I like that you mentioned here many non-surgical treatments available that can help with CTS. This could really help her. Thanks for sharing!

  3. John, you make a great point about how these exercises can be very effective for those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. It seems like it could be a good idea for people to try these exercises and therapies to try and treat their symptoms. Like you mention, it can be good to try different treatments to see what will work best for you.

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