Babies are so cute when they sleep with their chins cupped into their bent wrists; tiny hands curled into little balls and pulled into their chests. What is not cute, at least to your chiropractor, is an adult sleeping in the fetal position. That much stress on your body just isn’t comfortable or healthy. Best case scenario is that you wake up with sore wrists. Worst case scenario: you suffer from wrist injury, like tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome, from sleeping wrong.
If you wake up with wrist pain that feels like a dull ache and is a little swollen, this could be tendinitis. Tendinitis is inflammation of one or more tendons around the wrist joint. Most often it happens right where the bony part of your outer wrist sticks out. The tendons that pass over that area get stretched and rubbed against the bone when they’re bent into an awkward position for hours a night.
Think of tendinitis in the wrist as a warning injury. It’s not a serious injury, yet, but if not treated at home by warm compresses, rest and wearing a wrist guard at night to keep you from bending your wrist again, it could lead to something worse. You should feel relief within a day or two after following this regime and performing the following exercises:
Wrist extension and flexion
- Hold your arm straight out in front of you, fingers pressed together and palm flat, with your wrist bent, like you’re telling someone to STOP
- With your other hand, gently bend your flat fingers back as far as they can go.
- Now flip your fingers down and bend them back gently towards your underarm.
- Hold your arm out your palm up, fingers together.
- Bend your fingers back gently towards your underarm.
- Now bend them up towards your shoulder.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you wake up in the night with pins and needles in your thumb, pointer finger, middle finger and/or ring finger, you could have carpal tunnel syndrome. This is the “worse” injury I was talking about, in that it all begins with tendinitis.
On the inside of your wrist is the carpal tunnel, which has several nerves running through it. When you sleep with your head on your hand, the weight of your ten-pound-adult head compresses the tunnel and pinches the nerves. At first, you feel that tingly sensation and it’s easy to just shake it out. But after repeated compression from sleeping wrong, the tingly feeling won’t go away, even during the day. It gets painful. And you start dropping things because your hands aren't getting any support from your wrists.
It’s time to go see the doctor.
Your doctor will run a series of nerve tests to see how bad the damage is, and to rule out arthritis. If you do have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome she will prescribe a wrist brace, like the [popup url=http://www.amazon.com/Futuro-Night-Wrist-Support-Adjustable/dp/B0057D86QA/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1409434996&sr=8-7&keywords=wrist+brace height="500"width="460”]Futuro™[/popup], to protect you from yourself. Then advise you to take ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain. If that doesn’t work, she will give you a steroid injection.
Here are some exercises and stretches you can do to help the wrist, but only if your doctor advises it. Sometimes exercise can worsen the problem by causing further irritation:
Gently pull your thumb towards the underside of your forearm.
Gently move your hands in slow circles, clockwise and counterclockwise.
This one is tough to explain, so follow the visual and mimic these hand movements for the Nerve Glide.
If you wake up with a sore wrist, treat the problem immediately at home. Just like with any injury, a sleeping injury can worsen unless you correct your poor sleeping posture. Wrist guards are a great option for retraining your sleeping self not to bend your wrist at night, or not to sleep with your head on top of your hand. After a few weeks, will have corrected your poor sleeping posture and healed your wrist injury from sleeping wrong.