Skip to main content

How to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel and Avoid Surgery

Do you suffer from carpal tunnel or tendonitis like I do? I decided to research exercises that could provide relief and help avoid surgery.

Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Do you suffer from carpal tunnel or tendonitis like I do? Luckily, I only seem to have issues at night, not so much during the day. I was recently reading a magazine and came across an interesting article that talked about avoiding carpal tunnel surgery.

Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when your medium nerve (which runs from your forearm through the wrist to the hand) compresses, resulting in pain, numbness, and tingling. Yes, this describes what sometimes happens to both of my hands in the middle of the night.

The magazine article I read discussed a study demonstrating that physical therapy, supplemented by stretching exercise at home, resulted in better outcomes than surgery. Researchers suggest trying therapy before resorting to surgery. Sure sounds good to me.

Therefore, I decided to research exercises for carpal tunnel online to see what I could find.

By practicing all the exercises in this article, I have noticed some degree of improvement in my hands. I am going to continue doing these exercises to prevent further problems with my hands.

Relief From Carpal Tunnel


Stretching Exercises to Help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

I am spending time every day trying out these various exercises. I feel a slight stretch in my wrists doing the prayer stretch, and a slight pain doing the flexor stretch exercises described below. No pain, no gain, right?

This is what I found on WebMD:

"Stretching Exercises to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

These are general stretches for the wrists and arms. Stretching may help prevent arm problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Do not do any stretch or movement that is uncomfortable or painful.

Warm-up stretches:

  • Rotate your wrist up, down, and from side to side. Repeat 4 times.
  • Stretch your fingers far apart, relax them, then stretch them again. Repeat 4 times.
  • Stretch your thumb by pulling it back gently, holding it, and then releasing it. Repeat 4 times.

Prayer stretch:

  1. Start with your palms together in front of your chest just below your chin.
  2. Slowly lower your hands toward your waistline, keeping your hands close to your stomach and your palms together, until you feel a mild to moderate stretch under your forearms.
  3. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Wrist flexor stretch:

  1. Extend your arm in front of you with your palm up.
  2. Bend your wrist, pointing your hand toward the floor.
  3. With your other hand, gently bend your wrist farther until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm.
  4. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Wrist extensor stretch:

  1. Extend your arm in front of you with your palm down.
  2. Bend your wrist, pointing your hand toward the floor.
  3. With your other hand, gently bend your wrist farther until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm.
  4. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times."



Other Wrist Exercises to Treat Carpal Tunnel

I found some other interesting exercises with unique names to help treat carpal tunnel, such as the spider pushups, the shake, and the stretch armstrong, which is basically the extensor stretch above, only with slightly spreading your fingers apart.

Stretching in general can help benefit your body, since it increases your circulation, movement, and mobility, and stretching is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

Scroll to Continue

Spider Pushups

The GIF on this exercise showed the person turning their hands upside down on this exercise and doing a pumping motion with their fingers. I am finding this exercise is kind of fun. I pump my fingers for about 30 times.

I saw this exercise on

"Spiders doing pushups on a mirror.

Remember that nursery rhyme from when you were a kid? Turns out it’s a great stretch for your hands:

  1. Start with your hands together in prayer position.
  2. Spread fingers apart as far you can, then “steeple” the fingers by separating palms of hands, but keeping fingers together.

'This stretches the palmar fascia, carpal tunnel structures, and median nerve, the nerve that gets irritated in a carpal tunnel syndrome,' says DiBlasio.* This one is so simple even your office-mates won't notice you doing it, so you don’t have any excuses for not trying it.

'Problems like carpal tunnel are best addressed … with stretches done throughout the day,' says Dr. DiBlasio. Protect your wrists in just a few minutes a day with these easy movements."

*John DiBlasio, MPT, DPT, CSCS, is a Vermont-based physical therapist.

The Shake

This exercise sure is easy.

Here is another exercise that was on

"This is as straightforward as it sounds: shake hands like you’ve just washed them and are trying to air dry them.

'Do this for a minute or two every hour to keep flexor muscles of your hands and its median nerve from getting cramped and tight during the day,' he* advises. If that sounds like a lot, you could even integrate this into your hand washing routine. You are washing your hands frequently, right? If not, use your carpal tunnel treatment as another reason to lather up more often and keep the flu at bay!"

*John DiBlasio, MPT, DPT, CSCS, is a Vermont-based physical therapist.

Carpal Tunnel or Tendonitis

No Use of Hands

The video below shows some easy exercises to do. This man was able to avoid surgery by practicing the exercises in the video, and others have benefited from his video. He got to the point where he could no longer use a mouse or either hand. He got this way by excessive use of the computer and was diagnosed with RSI which is repetitive strain injury.

I am following along with this video every day, to see if I get good results within a couple of weeks or more. The exercises in this video seem to be relatively easy for me, and I really like that you only need to hold the positions for ten seconds each.

Wrist Exercises for Carpal Tunnel

Major Differences Between Carpal Tunnel and Tendonitis

Carpal TunnelTendonitis

Itching Sensation

Pain Felt On Front And Back Side Of Hand And Wrist

Pain Starting Gradually In One Or Both Hands

Tenderness Directly Over Affected Tendon

In Severe Cases, Unable To Distinguish Between Hot And Cold By Touch




Rest and Relax


Other Treatments For Carpal Tunnel

You can always contact a doctor if you think you might have carpal tunnel. Other treatments that could help are:

  • cold ice packs
  • frequent breaks
  • splinting your wrist
  • corticosteroid injections

Night Wrist Splint

Numbness or Tingling in Fingers

The video below is by a physical therapist in which you can see his top three exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome.

I am also following along with the exercises in the video below. It seems to be easier when you can watch someone showing you how to do these exercises, and doing them along with the video at the same time. I like the little puppet move in one of the exercises, and I like that you only have to hold those moves for 5 seconds each. I am not sure if I really need to do the exercise with the towel, but I figure it can't hurt to include it.

Top 3 Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Further Reading

Please feel free to ask any questions or make any comments below, and I will try to respond.

I have written more articles on being mentally healthy, positive thinking, and techniques. If you are interested in learning more about that, please read my other articles. You may want to start with my very first article, titled: "Introduction to Freeing Yourself From Your Problems." I have also written articles about recovering from injuries and speedy recovery tips.

Thank you for reading.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2017 Tomi Smith


Tomi Smith (author) on July 20, 2017:

Thank you for reading and commenting, Glenn. That is awful that you were misdiagnosed, but nice of you to let others know about your personal experience, and that carpal tunnel can be misdiagnosed.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on July 20, 2017:

These are very worthwhile exercises to alleviate carpel tunnel problems. Exercise is definitely something that should be done prior to considering surgery. In many cases it can help avoid surgery altogether.

I say this from personal experience I had had with a different issue. I had a torn rotator cuff, and physical therapy helped me avoid surgery.

I did once have carpal tunnel syndrome and unfortunately had surgery, but it was misdiagnosed. The true problem was later discovered that my median nerve was being squeezed in my neck, rather than in the carpal tunnel. I wrote a hub about that.

So, avoiding surgery, by doing the types of exercises you had mentioned, is important, especially since carpel tunnel can be misdiagnosed.

Related Articles