Ice or Heat for Carpal Tunnel??
When Carpal Tunnel pain begins to flare up, you may be wondering, “Should I use Ice or Heat for Carpal Tunnel?” Not every ailment or syndrome requires the same temperate treatment. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both, and answer your concern: Should I Use Ice or Heat for Carpal Tunnel?
Ice is the preferred method for alleviating the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel. A study entitled, “Effect of Heat, Cold, and Pressure on the Transverse Carpal Ligament and Median Nerve: A Pilot Study” in 2015, concluded that “Application of cold to the hand may reduce compression of the carpal ligament and nerve.”
Here’s a deeper dive into why that is the case.
PROS OF USING ICE TO TREAT CARPAL TUNNEL
- Ice therapy is typically used to reduce swelling. As Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by the inflammation of the Carpal Tunnel, putting pressure on the Median Nerve (the pain you feel from CTS), icing the area may temporarily reduce this inflammation, thus relieving pain.
- If the cause of your CTS is tissue inflammation, ice will reduce this inflammation.
- Ice therapy reduces blood flow to a particular area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling especially around a joint or a tendon.
- It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain.
- Ice therapy can temporarily numb pain by causing blood vessels to constrict.
CONS OF USING ICE TO TREAT CARPAL TUNNEL
You should not use ice therapy if you have another condition, such as cold intolerance or Raynaud’s disease where use of ice is not recommended.
Heat therapy, generally speak is used to relax muscles. Heat helps loosen tense muscles, which contributes to pain relief.
Heat also increases blood flow which can help promote healing. This can, in some cases be helpful to relieve CTS pain. Here’s why:
PROS OF USING HEAT TO TREAT CARPAL TUNNEL
- Heat can bring in fresh oxygen and help improve blood flow to your median nerve.
- Heat can also soothe sore muscles around your wrist and hand.
- Increases nerve circulation.
- Increases blood flow transiently to make the carpal tunnel symptoms lessen.
- The increased blood flow from heat therapy is known to promote the body’s natural healing process.
CONS OF USING HEAT TO TREAT CARPAL TUNNEL
Too much heat can increase swelling within the carpal canal and lead to increased pressure on the median nerve worsening your symptoms.
Too much heat and the nerve may engorge or get swollen and the pressure in the canal rises.
With either temperature treatment for Carpal Tunnel, it is important to avoid extreme temperatures. It’s normal for your skin to look a little pinker after using cold or heat. Before resuming temperature treatment, let your skin return to its normal color and temperature.
If you see any of the following signs after treatment, call your doctor. The following are signs that the temperature was too extreme:
- Purple, dark red, spotty red or white color on skin
So, how should I use ICE OR HEAT to treat my Carpal Tunnel pain?
So, it is concluded that both have benefits for relieving pain, restoring blood circulation and dispersing inflammation and lymphatic fluid that builds up around injured tissue.
However, as you saw above, Ice has more of the pain-relieving benefits associated with minimizing the pain and enabling your body’s natural healing process directly associated with Carpal Tunnel.
While most people do not need to do more than the Carpal Solution Treatment to jump start their body’s natural healing process, there are people who want to accelerate their body’s natural healing and get better faster. In such cases we recommend an alternating Ice and Heat therapy and straight icing therapy when you begin your treatment with The Carpal Solution Nighttime Stretching Treatment. Here’s what we recommend:
After work follow this icing protocol: 2 minutes in a warm water bath (not hot just warm, then 2 minutes in ice water bath), then 2 minutes in the warm water bath again. Continue this cycle of warm water for 2 minutes then ice water for 2 minutes for a total icing regimen of 25 to 30 minutes.
The hand should be completely submerged in the ice bath up to 4 inches up the forearm.
This icing protocol can be performed once or twice per day or even up to three times in one day. If you would like to do three times it would be best to do early morning, afternoon and late evening (before bed time).
It is helpful to have two different pitchers of water. One pitcher filled with warm water and the second pitcher filled with ice water.
Before bed do straight icing for 20 minutes (no alternating with warm water). The muscles should feel numb when you finish these 20 minutes of straight icing. If you only have time for one icing session, it is best to do the 20 minute straight icing once a day.
It helps to watch TV, listen to the radio or a podcast you enjoy to distract yourself during icing therapy. Icing helps calm down the injured tissue so your body can disperse the inflammation. This icing is recommended for 4 weeks using The Carpal Solution or until your symptoms subside.
Target 20 Minutes to 25 Minutes Minimum for Cold Therapy between 45 and 51 degrees F
When doing Cold Therapy alone it is important to keep the hand submerged in the cold water for 20 to 25 minutes minimum at a temperature between 45 and 51 degrees F ( 7 and 10 degrees C). There is little benefit of icing if you do it in warmer water or for less time. There is no advantage to going less than 45 degrees F (7 degrees C).
Icing Therapy – Technique Matters
There are better ways to do cold therapy for your hand and wrist. Here are some common examples of what not to do.
Direct Ice on the skin is never a good idea. It does not apply the cold therapy uniformly and it will lead to skin damage and ice burns.
Simply putting a cold pack on your hand or wrist does not provide enough cooling action on the full surface area and it can also lead to ice burns and skin damage.
Full submersion of the hand wrist and part of the forearm in an ice bath for 20 to 25 minutes is best. It achieves the maximum benefit of Cold Therapy. Most people error on the side of making the ice bath too cold. It is best to achieve a consistent target temperature for cold therapy of around 45 to 51 degrees Fahrenheit for the full 20 – 25 minutes.
Alternating Hot and Cold Therapy
It can also be helpful to apply alternating Ice and heat therapy. In this case you place you hand up to the forearm in a pitcher of warm water and hold it there for two minutes. Then you place you hand in chilled or ice Water ( between 45 and 51 degrees F) ( 7 and 10 degrees C) and hold it for 2 minutes. You keep alternating between hot therapy and cold therapy for 15 to 20 minutes for 2 minutes in each bath. This alternating hot and cold therapy can help to jump start circulation to hand which disperses inflammation and infuses the hand with full nutrient rich blood circulation. It is important to do deep breathing during any icing or heat therapy to maximize the benefit with amply oxygenation of the blood. Some people do shallow breathing when they are coping with discomfort or tenseness. Make sure you practice deep diaphragm breathing as often as you can, but especially when doing cold or hot therapy or alternating hot or cold therapy.
WHAT IS THE CARPAL SOLUTION?
The Carpal Solution is a unique new therapy developed by a physician specializing in CTS treatment. The Carpal Solution offers relief from your worst CTS pain and hand tingling or numbness in days with treatment in the privacy of one’s own home and complete remission within 6 weeks. It is different from other over-the-counter CTS treatments.
Worn during sleep, the Carpal Solution gently reshapes soft tissue in and around the Carpal Tunnel and eliminates hand pain, finger numbness and sleep interruption.
The Carpal Solution gently tugs simultaneously at three key points on the palm surrounding the carpal tunnel during sleep. Consistent gentle stretching action applied for 6 to 8 hours while the hand is relaxed, decompresses and reshapes the soft tissue around the carpal tunnel relieving pressure on the Median Nerve.
Why The Carpal Solution is The Next Best Thing to a Cure for CTS:
- It is an all-natural carpal tunnel treatment.
- It is safe and has no downtime.
- It is clinically documented to work.
- It is Convenient, with treatment during sleep.
- It works for 97% of people with Carpal Tunnel.
- The Carpal Solution was developed by a Doctor working with patients.
- It is patented medical technology.
- It has been registered with the FDA.
- It has been used by over 100,000 people.
- When it comes back after 2 to 7 years, you simply repeat the nighttime treatment.
This is an effective approach to maintain Active Hands For Life!