Carpal Tunnel Pain

Saima Andrabi   by Saima Andrabi, MS, Clinical Biochemistry    Last updated on April 20, 2021,

carpal tunnel pain

What is carpal tunnel pain like? What does it feel like when you have carpal tunnel pain?

Carpel tunnel pain develops slowly. In the beginning, you're likely to notice it at night or when you wake up in the morning. You might feel it as a sensation of pins or needles similar to the sensation you have when your hand falls asleep.

Generally, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome tend to occur in the thumb, index finger, or middle finger, along the path of the median nerve.

As the condition progresses, you may start noticing the pain in the day. This is similar to a tingling effect when holding something. You may feel relief with shaking the fingers.

You may also start noticing weakness in the thumb and first two fingers as the condition advances further. You might face difficulty in grasping things. You may even drop things frequently due to the sensation and pain you may have. You may face trouble in holding things or buttoning and unbuttoning the shirt.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause numbness in the hands. You may feel as if the fingers are swollen, even though there is no inflammation.

Can carpal tunnel be very painful? How severe the pain is?

The pain grows gradually. In the beginning, you might feel it as sensation due to pins and needles. As the condition advances, it may become worse.

The pain is severe enough to wake you up at night. It can become worse in the morning. The intensity of pain associated with this condition can range from mild-to-severe.

Some patients have reported waking up with a sensation of severe painful pins and needles and found it hard to get the blood flowing through their hand again.

Sometimes, patients report their quality of life been severely disrupted as they are not able to do any type of work comfortably. The night times are still worse due to the lack of a good sleep.

Particularly, in pregnancy, the pain can be extremely debilitating.

But sometimes the condition does not bother patients much most of the time. Each of us is different physiologically. We should not expect the same outcomes to as the other person might be having.

Very often, the pain is misunderstood as due to other reason such as arthritis. You should contact your doctor to figure out what is the actual reason behind the discomfort and pain, and he or she will conduct a diagnosis test and suggest a treatment plan for you.

Ease your carpal tunnel pain at home: What relieves carpal tunnel pain?

Here are provided certain things you can do to decrease the pressure and relive you from the CTS pain at home.

Take breaks from the tasks you generally do

If you are typing, playing a musical instrument, or using any other work that requires repeat working and using the hand in the same manner, try to take short breaks intermittently.

Stop what you’re doing and move your fingers. Stretch and shake your hands and move your wrist to improve blood flow to the affected region.

Wear splints on your wrists

Keeping your wrists straight can help relieve the pain as it reduces pressure on your median nerve. Symptoms of carpal tunnel are more common and severe at night. Therefore, you may wear a splint in the evening to prevent symptoms to appear or worsen.

If you have difficulty in day time and the nature of your work allows, you can wear them in the day also.

Avoid flexion

Avoid certain activities that can make your wrists flex to the extreme upward or downward direction.

Elevate your hands and wrists

This is effective if your condition is caused by pregnancy, bone fractures, or other issues due to fluid retention.


There are certain exercises that you can do quickly such as wrist stretching. For example, make a fist and slide your fingers until they are straight again. Repeat this action about 10 times.

Soft grips

Try using a soft-grip pen and use computer keys more lightly.

Over the counter medicines

OTC pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen may help. These medicines can relieve pain as well as reduce inflammation around the nerve. But you should not use them too often; instead, you should meet your doctor as soon as possible to help him provide you a proper plan of treatment.

Is a heating pad good for carpal tunnel pain? What is best for carpal tunnel - heat or cold?

Doctors say that alternating hot and cold water applications may provide relief from carpal tunnel symptoms and pain. This decreases inflammation, offers pain relief, and provides comfort.

You can immerse your wrists fully in hot water for 3 minutes, followed by 1 minute in cold water. Repeat this for about 3 to 4 times, and o this 2 to 3 times daily.

Can castor oil pack help in pain relief due to CTS?

Some people feel relied from pain with castor oil packs. You can try this home remedy for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Apply castor oil to a cloth, then loosely wrap it around your wrist, and then cover it with Saran Wrap. Apply a heating pad for about 20 to 30 minutes. But you may avoid the heating pad also.  Do this for 3 to 5 nights per week.

Can you massage carpal tunnel for relief in pain?

Studies show that massage and trigger point therapy may help relieve CTS symptoms. It is recommended to massage twice a week for 30 minutes each time.

Other methods and home remedies that you can try for pain relief are in CTS:

  • Acupuncture: Studies indicate that acupuncture restores normal nerve function and can provide long-term relief of pain due to CTS.
  • Chiropractic: CTS is done by chiropractors. The method includes manipulation of the wrist, elbow, and upper spine. Some therapists may use ultrasound therapy and wrist supports.

Saima Andrabi

Saima Andrabi is a clinical biochemist and is passionate about driving knowledge platforms for creating health awareness in the general public. She pursued her master’s degree in clinical biochemistry from University of Kashmir, Srinagar followed by an internship from National Institute of pathology, New Delhi. Her areas of interest include molecular biology, immunology, medical physiology and forensic medicine. Saima is very much interested in writing medical content and wants to create awareness in public through this platform.


Currently, Saima Andrabi is working at Maxinov Solutions Private LTD as a research associate and is associated with DiseaseFix as a medical content writer.

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