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Why Does Carpal Tunnel Hurt at Night: Understanding the Pain & Finding Relief

why does carpal tunnel hurt at night

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a painful or numb hand? This could be a sign of a hand and wrist illness called carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). One common symptom of CTS is pain at night. But why does the carpal tunnel hurt at night, and what can you do to feel better?

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in your wrist becomes compressed. This nerve regulates the movement and sensation of your thumb and fingers (except the pinky). If you apply pressure to your hand or wrist, you may experience pain, numbness, burning, or weakening.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the wrist nerve is squeezed. Several things could cause this:

  • Doing the same hand movements repeatedly, like typing or using tools.
  • Keeping your wrist bent for a long time.
  • Health issues like diabetes, arthritis, or thyroid problems.
  • Being pregnant can make your hands swell.
  • Being overweight puts more pressure on your wrist.
  • Genetics, as some people are more likely to get it.
  • Other things, like wrist injuries or certain medications, can also play a role.

Why does the carpal tunnel hurt at night?

Sometimes, when you’re not moving much, like when you’re trying to sleep, you might feel the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. This happens because the fluid in your arms doesn’t move around as it should without muscle activity. Normally, your muscles help pump blood around your body. But when you’re not moving at night, fluid can build up in your arms, putting more pressure on the carpal tunnel and making your symptoms worse.

Several factors can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome being worse at night:

  • Fluid Accumulation: Fluid can build up in your hands and wrists throughout the day, causing them to swell slightly. This swelling might put pressure on the median nerve, causing carpal tunnel pain at night. To reduce this swelling, try elevating your hands and wrists when resting.
  • Sleep Position: Many people sleep with their wrists bent, especially if they sleep on their side. This bent position can further compress the median nerve, worsening carpal tunnel symptoms at night. Sleep with your arms straight and your wrists in a neutral position to help ease this pain.
  • Decreased Blood Flow: Your body’s circulation slows down when you sleep. This reduced blood flow can lead to fluid buildup and increased pressure in the carpal tunnel, leading to nighttime pain. To improve circulation, try gently moving your wrists and fingers before bed.
  • Repetitive Movements: If your daily activities involve repetitive wrist or hand movements, such as typing or using a mouse, you may be more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. These actions can put stress on the wrist muscles, which can make the median nerve swell and become pinched. To avoid strain, take breaks often and stretch your hands and arms all day.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes, such as those seen during pregnancy or menopause, might exacerbate carpal tunnel syndrome. Increased hormone levels can lead to fluid retention and swelling, worsening carpal tunnel symptoms, especially at night. If you’re experiencing hormonal changes, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage your symptoms.

Managing Carpal Tunnel Pain at Night

If your carpal tunnel syndrome is worse at night, there are several things you can do to help:

  • Wear a Wrist Splint: A wrist splint worn at night can keep your wrist in a neutral position, which can ease pain by taking pressure off the median nerve. Wearing the splint as your healthcare provider recommends for the best results is important.
  • Adjust Your Sleep Position: Keep your hands straight while you sleep. Splints and pillows can assist in keeping your hands straight. This can reduce strain on the median nerve and improve sleep quality.
  • Apply Ice: Putting ice on your wrist for 15 to 20 minutes before bed can help reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth before applying it for extra skin protection. Also, don’t leave the ice on your skin for long.
  • Take Breaks: If your work involves repetitive hand or wrist movements, take regular breaks to rest your hands and wrists. This can help keep your hands from getting strained and lower your risk of getting or making carpal tunnel syndrome worse.
  • Practice Good Posture: Maintaining good posture can reduce strain on your wrists and help prevent the worsening of carpal tunnel symptoms. During the day, pay attention to your stance, especially when you’re using a computer or doing things that require you to move your hands over and over again.
  • Consider Ergonomic Adjustments: If you work at a computer, ensure your workstation is set up to reduce strain on your wrists and hands. These can include using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, adjusting the height of your chair, and typing with your wrists in a neutral position.
  • Seek Professional Help: If your symptoms persist, seeing a healthcare provider is important. They can evaluate your condition and suggest several forms of treatment, including medication, surgery, and physical therapy. It is crucial that you heed their recommendations to manage your symptoms properly.

Is the carpal tunnel worse at night? Learn how to manage it well now!

A lot of people who have carpal tunnel syndrome feel pain at night. Too much fluid, poor sleeping conditions, low blood flow, performing the same actions repeatedly, and hormone changes can all contribute to it. If you know about these things and change your lifestyle, you can control your symptoms and sleep better.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.