carpal tunnel

marie99(z8 SC)September 18, 2007

It seems I have carpel tunnel syndrome. First I had it off and on, a doctor confused it with arthritis, and when they finally decided what it must be I was told to do absolutely nothing for 2 weeks and then slowly resume activities. I have therapy exercises, but can't do as many as they want me to do. I wear braces most of the time and take an anti-inflammatory and another pain medication. This has been going on for about a year and nothing much has really helped me improve to a normal or near normal state. I hear the operation only works about half the time, so I'm not excited about that at all.

Do you have any suggestions?

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It works more often than that, as long as you go to a good MD. But you may have to consider changing jobs, finding other ways to do things, getting an 'aide' to attach to your steering wheel so you don't have to grip it (normally) if your commute is long, and stay off the computer or find a mouse that doesn't aggravate things as much, plus don't type any more than REALLY necessary. The condition is not something you can cure with any medication (what you're taking now is not curative) as it's a mechanical cause with mechanical fixes. Do you wear splints to sleep? I spent years in the offices of neuro's, some of whom did the surgery on many patients, so I have a pretty good idea about the condition (and have to be careful myself about limiting activities, etc).

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:16AM
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Did you get a nerve conduction test (electrodiagnosis)? That would conclusively indicate carpal tunnel. Only about half of those that go in for suspected carpal tunnel actually have it when the nerve conduction test is performed. Not clear from what you said if it was conclusively diagnosed or if they simply settled on that diagnosis as a presumption. Many conditions can mimic carpal tunnel - including tendonitis, myofascial problems, or regional musculoskeletal disorders. Surgery for them is not so useful.

Aside from splinting, acupuncture is probably the most studied 'alternative' therapy for carpal tunnel - conflicting evidence if it might help. Same for yoga, which is considerably cheaper, but potentially more likely to over-stress the area. I personally think that yoga is not so useful for true carpal tunnel, but can be very helpful for other conditions. And do-it-yourself trigger point therapy (myofascial massage) can be very effective if it is a myofascial problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Review of Alternative Therapies for Carpal Tunnel

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 9:15AM
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marie99(z8 SC)

I'm supposed to get the nerve conduction test in about a month because there hasn't been a lot of improvement. You know how they hate to pay for an expensive test.

I do sleep with the splints.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 7:21PM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

I had carpal tunnel in right wrist that went undiagnosed for quite a while because I just assumed it was arthritis. Finally went to the doctor when I couldn't hold a pen!

Mine was not typical, I had very mild pain, no numbness but major loss of touch sensitivity. Physiotherapy, anti inflammatories and night splints got me functional again, nerve conduction tests found 50% loss so it was on to surgery in January 2000. Surgery was successful, though I still wear splints at night and also modified my work habits. If I don't wear the splints or do too much wrist work (weeding, chopping, kneading, rolling pastry), I still get a little pain.

Left wrist was showing early problem when the right was diagnosed, so I did physio with it and started with night splints left at the same time. So far, it has not gotten any worse.

So, in summary -- ask for a physiotherapy referral and get surgery if nerve conduction tests indicate need.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 12:41AM
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raptorrunner(Z4/5 NE Nebr.)

I got CTS in 93. I had the expensive test. I put splints on for a month, reduced my typing load, and took the ibuprofin they told me to.

The muscle-to-tendon connective tissue going through a narrow tunnel in your wrist has gotten inflamed and thus, too big for the tunnel. Causes numbness and tingling and pain. That's why you need the anti-inflammatory, even if you don't want to use the pain meds, use the anti-inflammatory, to get that tissue back to its normal size.

I never had any exercises. Excessive hand motion "exercise," as I understand it is partly to blame for the CTS itself. Rest was the thing at that point, not making it move more.

I had aching pain all the time and loss of touch sensitivity on one or the other sides of individual fingers and my thumbs.

I did not get the surgery, but that's your choice. Very rarely (now, 15 yrs later) I do get out my splint and wear it at night for awhile. But I can't use a hammer for more than 15-20 minutes, like in construction. And I did not regain all my strength, but over time, I got most of it back.

My wrist is now an indicator of stress. When it's aching, I know I'm doing too much somehow.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 9:25PM
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Question: I admit I have never had this problem, so I am sure my understanding of it is limited. But has anyone thought to lift weights for it? I mean big ones, not little ones? For tendonitis, you let it rest until it doesn't hurt much and then lift weights for strength training until the muscles are strong enough to stabilize the area. Also, eat more vegetables. I mean besides the lettuce and tomato that everyone gets in their hamburgers, and I mean every day. You have less C-reactive protein when you eat less meat; this may help you have less inflammation. If you have tried these things, tell me what happened, I am interested in finding out things.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 4:59PM
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Not a good idea, as the grasping hold you need to be able to hold onto the bars can aggravate carpal tunnel. And as the problem is one that responds to surgery because of pressure on a nerve, it's very unlikely that diet will have any bearing on it at all - it's a 'mechanical' issue, not nutritional.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:43AM
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