Does your morning commute leave your hands tingling and hurting? Sounds like the classic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is frequently associated with constant typing or other repetitive hand motions, and rarely considered for the cause of pain when hands hurt after being still, as in the case of driving.

Driving Posture Causes Hand Tingling and Pain

Many drivers tend to grip the steering wheel with their hands held in unnatural positions, such as holding the steering wheel in a death grip or hanging a hand off the top of the steering wheel. Either of these hand postures puts the carpal tunnel in the wrist in a bind and creates pressure on the median nerve which runs through it. The bound and pinched wrist nerve then responds with symptoms that include tingling, pain and weakness in the hands and wrists.

Stop the Pain Before it Starts

To prevent the hand tingling and pain during and after driving. Place your hands on the steering wheel at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions while driving and lightly grip the steering wheel. This will help keep your wrists at a natural angle and align your hands, wrists and elbows, taking all pressure off the median nerve. If you find it difficult to keep wrists in this position, try wearing wrist splints which will keep them aligned automatically (find wrist splints at any pharmacy).

Take Stretch Breaks

Take a few stretch breaks for your wrists while driving or doing any other task which causes hands to tingle and hurt.

Use the time stopped at red lights to stretch hands and wrists. Let go of the steering wheel and make circles with your wrists and flex your hands. Make slow, deliberate stretching and circling motions, don’t shake hands in an attempt to stop the tingling. The shaking motion will jar the median nerve and make the problem worsen. When possible, drive with one hand while allowing the other hand to hang down loosely at your side.