Therapist

Best stress ball for carpal tunnel

Not the best idea if you have carpal tunnel.

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Doing exercises to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome could actually make symptoms worse.

Dr. Aaron Daluiski, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery, told Tech Insider he has many patients come in who have tried treating their own carpal tunnel symptoms, unsuccessfully.

“If you just Google ‘carpal tunnel syndrome treatment options,’ there’s a ton of stuff out there that has not been vetted,” Daluiski said. “I think in general, they just don’t work, and there’s no medical or scientific basis for them.”

After reviewing the research on the subject, an independent panel of experts concluded that ”people with [carpal tunnel] who indicate a preference for exercise or mobilisation interventions should be informed of the limited evidence of effectiveness and safety of this intervention.”

Carpal tunnel occurs when a specific nerve in the wrist is compressed, causing numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers.

Since it’s a structural problem of not having enough room for the nerve in the wrist, Daluiski said, doing exercises (like squeezing a stress ball) won’t help.

“The things that patients reflexively want to do because they think it will help them sometimes can exacerbate the symptoms and make it worse,” he said.

So what can you do if you think you have carpal tunnel? See a doctor who can help develop a treatment plan.

“Be aware of what carpal tunnel syndrome is — it’s nerve compression that produces numbness and tingling,” Daluiski said. ”If those symptoms happen three or four days in a row, it’s probably worth seeing someone.”

Some people think any exercise of their hand is good for overcoming Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is not the case. Our Doctors have found that there are certain common exercises that people tend to think are helpful to overcome Carpal Tunnel. However, they only make Carpal Tunnel Syndrome worse. Hand Exercises that you should not be doing if you have Carpal Tunnel are Squeeze Ball Exercises and Hand Gripping Exercises. Most people with CTS find that they are already doing too much gripping type activity. Also, any Yoga Poses that put a lot of weight on your wrists should be avoided:

Avoid exercises of the hand like the so called “stress ball” squeeze that work the Flexor Muscles in the forearm. Ironically, this is recommended as a good hand exercise by many, but this is probably the worst thing you can do for your hands if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Also, stay away from the hand grippers. These work the forearm muscles for grabbing things, which already get plenty of work in most people’s daily routine of grabbing objects and holding the object. With Carpal Tunnel there is ofen an imbalance between the forearm muscles. The Flexor Muscles are usually too strong and the Extensor Muscles in the forearm are too weak.

Breaking down carpal tunnel syndrome

The hand has a network of muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. These parts work together to give the hand feeling, grip strength, and flexibility. The carpal tunnel is a passageway of ligaments located at the base of the palm. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel, giving sensation to 3 fingers. Inflammation of the carpal tunnel causes the median nerve to become pinched. This can cause a range of issues, including pain, numbness, weakness, and a loss of grip strength.

Time to take care of your carpal tunnel

There is a range of treatment options, including rest, medication, and surgery. But of the different treatment options, exercise is a great way to reduce swelling and pain. Exercise can even strengthen the muscles in hand. Most activities are simple and can be done anywhere. These 4 exercises, in particular, can bring much-needed relief. As a rule of thumb, make sure to check with a doctor or healthcare provider first.

1. Wrist flexions and extensions

This exercise strengthens the affected wrist and improves flexibility. Stretch the arm straight with the fingers extended and the palm parallel to the floor. Then alternate flexing the fingers down to the floor and up to the ceiling. For extra tension, use the other hand to press against the fingers. Complete the exercise 3 times per day, 3-5 times per week.

2. Improve grip strength with stress ball squeezes

Have a stress ball handy? Stress balls can do more than channel energy. These spongy rubber balls can improve grip strength. Place the ball in the center of the palm, squeezing for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise 5 times, 3-5 times weekly. While a pinched median nerve is the source of the carpal tunnel, the activity may reduce muscle weakness.

3. Rubber band finger extensions

Exercising the fingers can be as simple as stretching a rubber band. Wrap a rubber band around the outside of the fingers of the affected hand. The difficulty of the exercise will depend on the size of the band. Wrap the band an additional time if needed. Practice spreading the fingers apart and back together again in a controlled motion for 60 seconds. Complete 3 sets with a 60-second rest in between.

4. Weighted wrist curls

Wrist curls help strengthen the wrist and improve circulation in the carpal tunnel. A 1-pound weight may sound easy but is enough to impact the affected wrist. Get comfortable on a chair and rest the forearms on the lap. Use the weight to curl the wrists up and down in a smooth, controlled motion. Complete 10 repetitions, 3 times daily. Are no weights available at home? A book, can, or bottle of water should suffice.

Will exercise always work?

With regular exercise, most patients can relieve the pain and restore some grip strength. At the same time, there are some occasions where training is not enough. For instance, if the carpal tunnel does not respond to months of training. Other reasons include suspected damage to the median nerve or poor quality of life. At this point, both doctor and patient will consider surgery. Carpal tunnel release surgery is a minimally invasive procedure. The surgeon will make minor incisions to enter the wrist and then clear the carpal tunnel.

Start an exercise routine, but stay sharp

Carpal tunnel can be a dangerous condition if left untreated. The hands naturally lose grip strength with age. However, noticeable pain and weakness is a clear sign of a deeper issue. Luckily, those 4 simple exercises, along with others, can help with carpal tunnel. At the same time, the exercises will only work with consistency. Complete all exercises with caution. If there is no positive response, schedule a visit to a doctor. At this point, carpal tunnel release surgery may be the best option.

We spent hours scouring the internet to find the best exercise equipment for arthritis, evaluating materials, weight limitations, price, ease of use, and ergonomics. Our top picks include forearm grips with customizable weight resistance, a silicone finger stretcher, and a stress ball you can use anywhere.

GRM’s Hand Grip Strengthener allows you up to 132 pounds in resistance. We also recommend Pnrkter’s Hand Grip Strengthener if you have hand arthritis and are looking for a budget-friendly option.

Whether you’re experiencing arthritis or stiffness, the best thing you can do is to move your hands, says Lisa Folden, PT , licensed physical therapist and owner of Healthy Pit Physical Therapy & Wellness Consultants in Charlotte, North Carolina. One way to increase mobility and strength is by using exercise equipment for hand arthritis.

Although the Peradix Hand Grip Strength Trainer is still a type of stress ball, its ergonomic design helps to fit it perfectly to your hand and more effectively train all your fingers. The shape of these colorful trainers, which coordinate with resistance progression from 15kg to 25kg to 30kg, allow to more easily isolate areas of your hand and give more attention to your wrist.

Think of this FlexEx Hand Exerciser as a glorified rubber band of sorts. It’s nothing too fancy, but like regular rubber bands, it proves to be an essential asset in therapy. Pain in finger joints is a common symptom of arthritis and can make it hard to grip objects, especially small ones. Exercises that incorporate rubber bands help work on finger extensions and hand strength by utilizing all the muscles in the forearm and upper arm, explains Dr. Folden.

The putty comes in four, three-ounce containers and is odorless, non-toxic, latex free. This silicone-based putty will last without graining, so stretch, squeeze, and poke it all you want. Your hands will thank you later.

Therapy putty allows your inner child to play while also forcing you to use your hands full range of motion . Dr. Folden uses therapy putty with patients by having them “dig into the putty to work on their finger extensions or bare dexterity and making them find things like beads, pebbles, or pennies.” Vive Therapy Putty is color-coded by level of resistance, which ranges from soft to firm, so that people can gradually increase their hand and grip strength based on what they feel they can handle that day.

This high quality therapy ball is known to hold well under pressure and commonly used in hand and dexterity therapy. Made from non-stick fabric with a tear-resistant gel core, it fits comfortably in your hand when working to reduce arthritis symptoms. It also doesn’t hurt that it puts in double the work by helping to relieve any physical or mental stress in the body. At 2.25 in x 5.1 cm, Serenilite’s stress ball is perfect for accompanying you anywhere you go, whether that’s to work or to physical therapy.

This combo of hand grips and finger strengtheners is ideal for anyone suffering from hand arthritis and looking to tone and strengthen muscles around the hand. People have a tendency to overuse their gripping muscle while neglecting their expanding muscles. The finger strengthener allows you to open those muscles by concentrating stretching the fingers. On the other end, the hand grip comes in three resistance levels to accommodate the current strength of your hand. Both equipment tools are easy to clean with just some soaps and water, and are ready to use regularly.

We chose this GRM kit as our top pick because it can be used to perform daily exercises and helps support joint health in people with hand injuries, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow , and more. It comes with an adjustable grip strength trainer that allows for up to 132 pounds in resistance and has an intelligent counting grip, a finger exerciser, a hand grip resistance ring, finger exerciser, stress relief grip ball, and a finger grip stretcher. Everything you need to zoom focus on your grip is in this kit.

What do buyers say? 87% of 4,400+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Final Verdict

The GRM Hand Grip Strengthener Counting Forearm Trainer Workout Kit is the best way to get all the essential exercise tools for hand arthritis you need all in one at a great price. For a fun twist on arthritis therapy, Vive Therapy Putty will let your inner child play while still effectively working those hand muscles.

What to Look for In Exercise Equipment for Hand Arthritis

Comfort

Struggling with arthritis is uncomfortable enough, there’s no need to add more discomfort to the situation by buying exercise equipment without proper cushioning. Whether it’s a hand grip exerciser or stress ball, make sure ease of comfort is one of its top descriptors. 

Travel

One of the best things about hand exercisers for arthritis is that they’re created with casual activity in mind, meaning you can utilize them while working at your desk or sitting in the passenger seat on a road trip. That’s why you want to make sure your equipment can easily fit into your purse or backpack, to go wherever you go.

Resistance level

Choose the equipment that works with your current physical ability. Several hand exercisers have the ability to adjust the resistance or may come in multiples of various strengths. This gives you the ability to start slow with a less intense workout and increase resistance over time.

Target area and goals

The equipment should match the area you wish to work on such as the wrist, fingers, or both. It should also align with your goals, which might include increased muscle tone, grip strength, fine motor skills, or a combination of these. Equipment that resembles a rubber band is helpful for stretching fingers, while you may want something to squeeze for grip strength. Molding therapy putty can help with dexterity or picking up small objects.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often should I use a hand exerciser for arthritis?

    Hand exercises can be done for a few minutes daily. However, the frequency of exercise depends on the type of arthritis, inflammation, joint stability, and physical limitations. Start out slow and with low resistance. If it starts to hurt, stop for the day and consider decreasing the intensity or number of repetitions per workout. Talk to a healthcare provider before starting a hand exercise routine to ensure it’s safe for you.

  • How can I relieve arthritis hand pain?

    One of the best natural remedies for helping with arthritis pain and stiffness is stretching and exercising your hands. A warm bath or shower may help relax stiff joints, while cold therapy may be helpful for inflammation. You can also try over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) or pain relief creams. If pain persists, talk with your healthcare provider about the possibility of prescription medications or surgical treatment.

  • How do I know if I have arthritis in my hands and wrist?

    The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, may affect the wrist, base of the thumb, finger joints closest to the fingernail, and the middle joints of the finger. The most common symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, or numbness. Typically, the pain comes and goes and is worse in the morning. As it progresses, pain may be more constant or sharp and wake you up at night.

    Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect both hands at once, beginning with stiffness and progressing to pain and tenderness. It more often affects the middle joints in the finger and the joints where the fingers meet the hand. Other joints, such as the knees, elbows, or ankles, may also be painful.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Having been raised by two medical professionals, Amari Pollard understands the importance of health literacy. As a seasoned health writer, she is committed to producing well-researched and well-sourced product reviews to help people make informed medical decisions.

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