Sleep Positioning And Nerve Compression Syndromes
Does your sleep positioning make the nerves in your arm cranky?
Have you ever awoken from a sound sleep unable to find your arm in space? Have you noticed that when you wake up in the middle of the night, your fingers are numb and tingling? You may be sleeping in positions that stress the nerves in your neck or arm. Your nerve may have reached its tipping point, signaling that it has had enough compressive stress and can no longer tolerate that position. Our body has this wonderfully efficient system to alert us to make a changebefore permanent nerve damage occurs.
There are numerous studies in the literature that describe correlations between sleep positioning and carpal tunnel but actually, any of the peripheral nerves are subject to it. It all depends on how you sleep. We now know that low magnitude compressive stress applied to a nerve over a long period of time may cause significant changes secondary to impairment of blood flow, alteration in nerve conduction, and altered axonal transport. We have all heard about the relationship between carpal tunnel and how we sit at our computers all day. Consider how long we may maintain stress to a nerve when we are in a deep sleep and static position for up to 6-8 hours.
Here are some guidelines that may help you keep your nerves happy while you sleep:
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel In Pregnancy
We often can diagnose CTS by talking with you about your symptoms and medical history. If your symptoms are severe, we may recommend an electrodiagnostic study to confirm the diagnosis and measure nerve function in the arm, wrist, and hand. An EMG can tell us whether you have nerve damage, how severe it is, and whether it might be reversible with intervention.
The doctor will attach small electrode stickers to your hand and arm in different places and apply low levels of electrical stimulation to gauge the nerve activity. The doctor may also insert a fine acupuncture-like needle in certain areas of the arm and hand to test muscle electrical activity. The study can be a little uncomfortable, but should not cause lasting pain.
Carpal Tunnel At Night
Carpal tunnel can cause wrist pain at night and wake you up. While youre sleeping, your wrists can bend up or down and press on the nerve. If you shake your hands when you wake up, it usually feels better. Wrist splints can also help, as they keep your wrists straight while youre sleeping and relieve pressure on the nerve.
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Wearing A Brace At Night
Most people, including myself, sleep with the wrist bent. When the wrist is not kept straight, the pressure within the carpal tunnel increases. Therefore, when the wrist is bent for a long period of time, such as during sleep, the nerve is compressed. This can cause symptoms at night. The simplest treatment is to use an over-the-counter wrist brace to keep the wrist straight and train yourself not to keep the wrist bent during sleep. Otherwise youll wake up with the hand numb/tingly and have to reposition your arm and shake out the numbness to get the feeling back.
Tips To Reduce Numbness In Hands When Sleeping
Depending on the cause, you may be able to reduce numbness in your hands while sleeping a few ways. First, it may help to have a pillow and mattress that are supportive yet soft, so pressure points are less likely to develop in your neck or shoulders. Supporting the neck and spine is an important step to getting good rest. You can also try the following:
- Wear a wrist brace to bed to help stabilize your wrist during sleep.
- Try a new sleeping position, particularly on your side.
- Avoid laying on your arms under your pillow, which can compress nerves. Make sure your wrists remain unflexed, since flexing can lead to tingling.
- If you often sleep on your back with your arms overhead, try keeping them next to you to reduce nerve pinching.
- Try stretching your hands and wrists before going to sleep.
- Rule out any other underlying disorders with your doctor.
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How Can A Wrist Brace Help
Most people bend their wrists when they sleep. That puts pressure on the median nerve. A brace can help because it keeps your wrist in a straight, neutral position. A 2012 study found that using a wrist brace at night did more to relieve carpal tunnel symptoms than using no treatment at all.
You may also find it helpful to wear a brace during the day, especially during activities that trigger flare-ups. Repeated motions or extra strain on your wrist can make your symptoms worse. If your job allows for it, try wearing a brace at work.
After you take it off, be sure to keep moving your wrist as you normally would. This helps keep your muscles loose and strong. Just try to avoid too much stress or force on your wrist.
Carpal Tunnel: How To Treat Mild Symptoms
1. Bracing your hand at night forMILDsymptoms
Wear a wrist brace at night only. Doing so takes the stress off your median nerve.
Never wear a restrictive wrist brace during the day as you work with your hand. Doing so only makes your wrist subconsciously fight the restriction in addition to doing its regular job. Such stress makes carpal tunnel syndrome much worse.
Also, be sure to wear a certified carpal tunnel night brace.Wearing the wrong kind of brace can do more damage to your wrist. For instance, NEVER wear a night brace that contains a palmar spine . The spine will push into your carpal tunnel space and compress your median nerve. This makes symptoms worse, especially when you first wake up in the morning.
2. Resting your hand forMILDsymptoms
Rest is the bodys way if repairing just about everything, even carpal tunnel syndrome. But nobody can rest their hands 24/7. The next best thing is to take short mini-breaks.
This means while you work, stop and drop your hands. Then shake them out for a couple seconds. This increases blood flowand relaxes the tendonsthat were stressed during the hand activity. If your hands feel warm after shaking them out, it means blood is flowing through them.
But whats better than rest is avoiding the stressful hand activitiy altogether. Unfortunately, for most workers complete avoidance of daily hand activities and tasks is nearly impossible.
3. Exercises forMILDsymptoms
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Nerve Compression Or Damage
A common culprit of numb hands during sleep is a damaged or compressed nerve. Nerves in the hands and arms can become damaged after repeated movements. When this damage occurs as a result of a persons occupation, symptoms may be called working hand syndrome. People who make repetitive movements with their hands and arms for work are more likely to experience numbness, pain, and tingling in their hands, especially at nighttime.
Nerve damage causing numbness and tingling in the hands, which is also called peripheral neuropathy, can result from more than repetitive manual labor. Some people experience similar symptoms due to drug use, infection, hereditary disease, injury, or inflammation.
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Anyone who has felt wrist and hand strain after typing all day knows that its a very specific pain that can be impossible to ignore. But if that nagging wrist pain actually develops into carpal tunnel, you’ll want to seek treatment quickly.
The first step in treatment is getting an appropriate diagnosis. Typical symptoms include numbness and tingling in the thumb through ring fingertips. But the right tools can help treat this condition. While carpal tunnel surgery is one option, most treatments are non-invasive and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Wearing a wrist brace while you work or sleep can provide fast and lasting relief for nerve pain in the hands. Braces do just that by keeping your hand in a neutral position . The most appropriate brace is one that has a solid piece that sits along the palmar surface of the wrist and hand. That piece should be supportive enough to prevent the wrist from flexing into that curled position, says Nicole Montero Lopez, M.D., a New York City-based orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand and upper extremity microsurgery.
Here are the best wrist braces for carpal tunnel on the market today.
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Dont Let Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Rob You Of Sleep
It is common for people suffering from early symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Strain not to realize the cause of their hand pain and numbness. Early diagnosis allows early treatment and prevention of Chronic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms are most pronounced at night. Sufferers often wake up at night with numb hands thinking that they are sleeping in a position that restricts circulation causing their hands to go to sleep or feel numb. If you are experiencing regular sleep disruption due to your hands and fingers or thumb feeling numb at night, you probably are in the early stages of Carpal Tunnel Strain. In the case of Carpal Tunnel Strain, early detection and preventive action is important to check the progression of the syndrome.
Reach Out To A Doctor
Even though this doesnt necessarily fall under the home remedies for carpal tunnel, it is quite important that you do focus on ways that would help in improving the condition and that too, fast.
You dont necessarily want to make the situation worse which is why it is best that you dont leave the condition be when none of the remedies and alternative medicine work.
Reaching out to a doctor can essential help you gain a better perspective of things and find better ways of mitigation that you possibly didnt know about.
Signs You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
We already established that having numb hands while sleeping is one of the first signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. But there also several are others, listed below. It’s not necessary to have these other symptoms, but most people get more than one.
It’s also important to establish WHERE these symptoms occur. The diagram below shows where ALL carpal tunnel symptoms appear. The symptomsmustbe confined to these areas or else you may not have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Best Carpal Tunnel Braces For Sleeping In 2021
Carpal tunnel braces for sleeping are recommended if you want to get a full nights sleep. As we sleep, we often toss and turn and end up sleeping on our arms as well as our wrists. When this happens, it just makes the pain in our wrist that much worse.
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Home Remedies For Carpal Tunnel
As mentioned before, the home remedies for carpal tunnel dont necessarily cure the condition completely but has beneficial impacts in helping improve the symptoms. They help improve the pain and even help in getting rid of the constant swelling and discomfort that you could be struggling with.
To help you cure and heal the condition for the better, we have some important insights that we would love sharing with you.
Some of the best home remedies for carpal tunnel relief include:
Getting Medical Treatment For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
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Sleeping Positions To Avoid
These are sleeping positions that you must avoid when you have carpal tunnel syndrome troubling you
1. The Fetal Position
This position, where your arms and legs curl into the body, will cause your wrist to bend, increasing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. The fetal position also places pressure that causes nerve compression injuries at the elbow, shoulder, and cervical spine. This position neither provides adequate back and hip support.
2. On Your Stomach
This position increases the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome by placing more pressure on the wrists. It can also increase the risk of nerve compression injuries at the elbow and shoulder. Laying on the stomach may cause irritation to the neck, back, and spine.
Now, let us get back to “How to sleep with carpal tunnel syndrome?” whether you lay on your back, your stomach, or your side, the best sleeping position while suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome is the one that avoids strain or pressure on your wrists throughout the night.
Adjust Your Sleeping Position
The most long-lasting solution to relieving numb hands on waking up is to adjust your sleeping position. This can insure you dont exert pressure on the nerves in your hand or elbow.
But its very difficult to decide to change how you sleep. Successfully retraining a new sleeping position requires physical interventions.
For instance, you can use the tennis ball method. Just tape a tennis ball to your undershirt on the side you dont want to sleep on. Then put another under short over it to hold it better.
You can also use a loose restraining rope to hold your arm down. Otherwise, sleep trainersare commercially available. These devices monitor how you sleep and wake you up if you turn on an unwanted side.
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What To Do About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy
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Feeling all a-tingle these days? Chances are, it isnt excitement about the baby its pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome, which some studies have shown may affect between a third and two-thirds of moms-to-be.
Pregnant moms, especially those who work at computers, may begin to notice an uncomfortable tingling, pain, burning and numbness in the wrists, hands and fingers.
Though its usually associated with work that requires repetitive motion such as typing or sewing, carpal tunnel strikes pregnant women for a different reason though repetitive motion can definitely contribute to the problem.
My Tingling Hands Wake Me Up At Night
One of the most common reasons for which a patient will come see me in my office is due to a tingling sensation in their hands. This oftentimes happens at night when sleeping, and can severely disrupt the quality of their sleep. These patients oftentimes say that a burning sensation, or pain in their hands wakes them up throughout the night, and they either need to 1) shake the hand, 2) hang it off the side of the bed, or 3) raise the hand up in the air to alleviate the symptoms.
Why does this happen at night?
The nerves to the hand pass through tunnels, which become narrower when joints are bent. We tend to sleep in the fetal position, with our wrists and elbows in a bent position. Flexing the wrist for long periods of time can pinch the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist. This typically causes numbness, tingling, or pain in the thumb, index, and middle finger known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Similarly, sleeping with the elbow bent can pinch the ulnar nerve along the inside of the elbow, thereby causing similar symptoms in the ring and pinky finger called cubital tunnel syndrome.
I tell patients, If you dont irritate the nerve for 6-8 hours while youre sleeping at night, it tends to be much less irritable to you throughout the day.
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Brace Your Hand At Night
Keeping your hand in the neutral position helps reducepressureinside your wrist joint. If you bend your wrist unconsciously when you sleep, pressure rises inside the joint. This compresses the median nerve, making your carpal tunnel syndrome much worse. In contrast, bracing in the neutral position promotes healing.
IMPORTANT BRACING CAUTION