Have you recently had carpal tunnel surgery?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone; it’s one of the most common surgeries in America, with over 2 million procedures performed every year.
But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s easy—even though you may have been recovering from something else, your body is likely to still feel like it needs some extra care and attention when you have this type of surgery done.
That’s why we’ve put together some helpful tips and tricks to make your recovery as successful as possible.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on your median nerve.
The median nerve runs from your forearm into your hand, passing through a tunnel (hence, carpal) formed by bones in your wrist.
If there’s an increase in pressure within that tunnel, you may experience numbness or tingling in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, and palm.
These symptoms are often worse at night because they affect how well you sleep.
In severe cases, people with carpal tunnel syndrome can lose strength in their hands and fingers; over time, they might even require surgery to relieve pressure on their median nerve.
When it comes to prevention or treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, your lifestyle matters: research shows that things like poor posture and habits such as smoking can increase your risk of developing symptoms.
Avoiding them is one of many steps toward keeping yourself healthy.
Keep in mind that, after any type of surgery, your doctor will outline certain precautions you need to take to avoid complications.
For instance, following carpal tunnel surgery, you should refrain from doing any repetitive motions with your wrist.
This includes activities like typing or using tools with your hand.
You’ll want to rest as much as possible.
You should also stay active by walking around every day, but keep it at an easy pace so you don’t put too much stress on your arms and hands.
Another important thing is making sure not to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds until your body has had time to heal completely.
The list goes on!
Essentially, most tasks considered normal daily activities can be too strenuous for people recovering from hand surgeries; it takes time before things get back to normal!
If you experience extreme pain during your recovery period—which shouldn’t be taken lightly—you should contact your surgeon immediately.
Most people who have undergone carpal tunnel surgery are looking to get back to their previous lives in as little time as possible.
One of the ways you can help your body recover from surgery is by doing exercises that make your joints move smoothly.
Exercises like yoga, tai chi, swimming, and walking are all excellent recovery exercises from carpal tunnel syndrome because they take pressure off of your hands and wrists by putting stress on other parts of your body.
Since it’s important to not put any weight on your arms or wrists while recovering from carpal tunnel surgery, these exercises give you an opportunity to work out without having to use your arms.
By keeping moving after carpal tunnel surgery, you will be able to build strength and endurance much faster than if you sat still during your recovery period.
In addition to yoga, tai chi, swimming, and walking, physical therapists recommend massage therapy as a great way to relax muscles that are stiff from being at rest too long.
A gentle massage doesn’t force movement but encourages your muscles to relax so that blood can flow more freely again through your arm and hand area.
With regular sessions at a local spa or at home with some soothing lotion, you should begin feeling more flexible within just one week of starting massage therapy.
Let’s have a look at the top 3 exercises recommended by physical therapists.
Once you have been cleared by your doctor to begin exercising, start with wrist flexion and stretch.
Flexing at the wrist may seem simple, but it is important in preventing post-surgery carpal tunnel pain.
Start with holding your hands together as if in prayer, then slowly move them out wide until you feel a mild stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds.
Repeat 3-5 times per day.
Once you are comfortable with that, add some weight to increase resistance (for example by holding light dumbbells or weights).
You should feel an even greater stretch during exercise, but remember not to overdo it or place strain on your wrist too quickly.
It’s important to keep your tendons moving, as well as keeping your hand strength at its peak.
Doing simple tendon gliding exercises is an easy way to achieve both of these goals.
Holding your hand straight out in front of you, move it back and forth several times.
Make sure to relax your fingers each time you bring them back toward you so that there’s no stress on them.
Also be sure not to overwork yourself—if at any point it becomes painful or uncomfortable, take a break from doing these tendon gliding exercises (and remember to see your doctor if pain persists).
You can also try other types of tendon exercises, such as towel pulls. These tend to be easier on injured hands than traditional grip exercises.
Doctors will often ask patients to touch their fingers to their noses.
This simple test, which can be done in any doctor’s office, helps determine if you have nerve damage associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
When your doctor tells you to touch your nose, raise one hand at a time—don’t just lift both hands up at once.
Keep your elbows by your side when doing so (rather than raising them up toward your face).
This exercise should not cause pain or tingling—if it does, it is likely a sign of further nerve damage caused by carpal tunnel syndrome or of related conditions.
Once you get over your surgery you’re going to want to get back into full training.