Weeding - carpal tunnel/repetitive motion injury?

Carrie BMay 26, 2006

I started working for a landscaping company in the beginning of April. A lot of what we do is maintenance, and since most of the guys I work with would much rather mulch than weed - I'm the designated weeder much of the time.

I'm using a hand tool similar to the one linked below. Over the past several weeks, I've been experiencing some tingling in my dominant (left) hand and arm. It is similar to the feeling when my hand/arm "fall asleep", but it is usually more of a subtle feeling.

I think it might be related to the several hours a day I spend weeding. Does this make sense? Do you have suggestions for preventing further injury? Because of the nature of my job, I can't really refuse to weed, though if I'm risking a serious problem, I suppose I could just quit my job. Are there other tools that would be equally effective, but safer? Will going back to yoga (lots of postures involve using hands/arms) help limit the progression of any injury? Do I need to see a doctor?

Thanks for any input.

CarrieB

Here is a link that might be useful: Weeding Tool

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inkognito

Use a different tool. Get the man to buy you a border fork which you use to loosen the soil you then pull out the weeds by hand. You should only need to do this once a year, after that it is only neccessary to chop the heads off the weeds with a hoe. Both the fork and the hoe are used from a standing position using both hands. Use a different method.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 2:41PM
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clfo(z7 with luck)

Try a "cobra head" weeder - they are curved so that you won't have to bend your wrist when you weed.

I have the same problem when I carry too many heavy pots/watering cans or hold the watering wand with my wrist bent. I take vitamin B6 and MSM which helps, and there are times when I wear wrist braces to keep the wrist from bending too much.

Here is a link that might be useful: cobra head weeder

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 6:23PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

CarrieB-
Tell your employer and see a doctor. That's what Workman's Comp is for. No Workman's Comp? -- shouldn't be in the employ of a business without it.

You may need to do something else for a while--light duty or use a differnet tool as inkgognito suggests. don't harm your future health over a weding job. If you do have carpal tunnel, it can be a nasty problem you don't ant to aggravate. Could be an over-use reaction, easily remedied by rest and a different task allowing those muscles to rest and recover.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 8:32PM
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inkognito

Well. a blast from the past. So you still read ginger? What do they say "work smarter not harder"? I am happy to read your contribution ginger I've had two grandchildren since those old days.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 8:53PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Just trolling for you ;)

And Stanley Kunitz died; re-reading his last book for the past week.

Congratulations on the newest grandkids. My daughter graduated college May 19.

I read here from time to time. Too busy to post for the most part; lost interest as well.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 9:04PM
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doghousemom(5 IL)

Hey Carrie

I don't know anything about carpal tunnel, but I do know about back injuries. The tingling sensation could be a spinal problem, possibly at the neck or between the blades, which could be from the use of the weeder.

I know some people don't belive in chriopractic (sp?), I never did, until a serious injury gave me a choice of chrio or surgery. that was 20 years ago. I'm still not a believer in the whole "whole health" chrio philosophy, but I see the doc (mine specializes in sports injuries) every 5 years or so for a re-adjustment.

Just something you might want to check out.

BTW - a good chrio will take X-rays before he even thinks about adjusting you. Insist on it.

Hope you feel better

Sue

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 11:26PM
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swanoir(Zone 5)

I agree with ginger in terms of getting an assessment, although you should know going into this that you may need to be persistent. I recently read a study that stated most physicians reach a diagnosis within 11 minutes of seeing you - if, of course, they give you 11 minutes. Therefore, your primary care physician may not nail your problem in the first visit. Or the second.

There are a number of things that could be going on, including microtrauma to the wrist, epicondylitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, etc. I would work with your primary care doctor and request a consult with a physical therapist (PT) to do an ergonomic evaluation of your work situation. A PT can also do therapy and give you home exercises if required. A chiropractor is not going to be very useful unless there is cervical involvement - extremities are not their forte. Also, despite what their PR states, most chiropractors are quite reductionist - if you want holistic, see a naturopathic physician or a Chinese medicine practitioner that does both herbs and acupuncture.

Finally, don't waste your time taking B6 or MSM. I love how people toss supplements around like they are some kind of magic candy. They are not. I imagine this is like how you would feel if someone told your clients to simply "toss in some annuals" or "fill that space with arbor vitae."

If you're feeling a bit stressed, fine, take B6. But if you have an actual medical condition, you need a medical protocol designed by a medical professional trained in natural therapies. To use B6 as an example, this means assessing how much B6 you are already getting (for example, in your diet or multivitamin), if you have an intolerance for B vitamins, if B6 is more effective than other natural therapies, if B6 might work better in a specific form or with another supplement, if B6 is contraindicated because of some other medication you are taking, and so on. If you do need B6, it should be taken at a specific dose for a specific period of time. Same with MSM or glucosamine or SAM-e or chondroitin - MSM in particular is tricky stuff that often requires large doses to get the desired effect. Then there is the issue of where you get the B6 or MSM or other supplements. If you are buying the garbage they sell at WalMart, then you will most likely not get the response you are looking for - not unlike what would happen if your clients were to buy their plants there.

To use a metaphor I am sure you can appreciate, first you need to get to the root of the problem. Then, hopefully, something actually useful can be done about it. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 2:52AM
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clfo(z7 with luck)

Did I somehow imply that I was taking magic candy? Sorry if that's the case. By all means, carrieb, go to the professional of your choice and get a proper diagnosis. I did, and was given appropriate dossages of B6 and MSM - along with a wrist brace for the times when keeping my wrist from bending would be beneficial.

Just reporting what has been helpful for me :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 10:34PM
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Flowerchild(z5NY Col.Cnty.)

Last year I had the exact symptoms you describe. I went to an orthopaedic Dr. and he sent me to a neurologist. He did tests by hooking me up to probes and found that I did have beginning stages of Carpal Tunnel. The Ortho. gave me a wrist brace to wear at night to keep it stabalized and advised me to try not to use that hand as much. It is OK now. There is still some numbness (similar to novacaine wearing off) and tingling occasionally. Then I try not to use it as much and it is better.In the beginning it got so bad I couldn't pick up a coffee cup w/o pain. That's when I went to the Dr. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 4:32PM
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chaman(z7MD)

Try the weed remover used for removing weeds tangled in the tines of Mantis Tillers.It is available from the co. directly or from any Mantis dealer.
I have been using this for couple of years.
Your best help is to seek advice from your Doctor.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 5:52PM
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