A pinched nerve in the hand can be caused by a number of conditions, including arthritis, cysts, diabetes and even carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrist but the symptoms are usually felt in the finger and hand as well. Sometimes it is the ulnar nerve, which extends down the arm into the hand, that is affected. Fixing a pinched nerve often involves a combination of treatments such as rest, immobilization, ice, heat, medication and exercise. However, it is always best to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Things You'll Need
- Hand brace or splint
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve)
- Ice pack
- Heating pad
Rest the hand. Stop all activity immediately. Apply a hand brace or splint to prevent movement for a few days.
Take anti-inflammatory medication. Take two ibuprofen or naproxen pills every four to six hours, continuing until the inflammation, pain and numbness have gone away.
Apply ice. Put ice in an ice pack and place the pack on your hand so that it is directly compressed against the nerve or source of numbness and pain. Keep the ice on your hand for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat ice treatments every three or four hours. Continue using ice until the initial inflammation, pain and numbness have subsided a bit.
Apply heat. Once the initial inflammation is under control, use a heating pad for 15 to 20 minutes several times per day. Continue using the heating pad until all symptoms are gone.
Exercise the hand. Slowly bend your wrist toward you with your affected hand open and at your side. Hold that position for five seconds. Do 10 repetitions and three total sets of this exercise. Next, bend your wrist down and away from you. Hold that position for five seconds. Do three sets of 10 repetitions. Finally, stretch your fingers and thumb outward as far as possible. Hold that position for five seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times and do three total sets.
Try massage. Massaging your hand gently can also help alleviate your pinched nerve pain and numbness. Massage can relax the nerve and potentially minimize scar tissue, which is a major contributor to recurring injuries.
Tips & Warnings
- Make sure you get ice on your hand the first two or three days. Ice reduces inflammation, pain and numbness by limiting the flow of blood to the hand (vasoconstriction). Once your inflammation and numbness subside a bit, heat will promote blood flow as the blood carries nutrients and oxygen that are needed for healing.
- Stretching and strength-building exercises can potentially help mitigate the swelling that pinches the nerve. Exercise also adds more stability to the hand which can relieve pressure from the hand nerves. (See resources 1 and 2 below for more exercises)
- Never apply the ice directly against your skin. This can cause a frostbite injury. Do not allow your symptoms to continue for more than a few days. Your pinched hand nerve may be caused by a more serious condition.