Author Topic: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome  (Read 1671 times)

StarswirlTheMustached

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« on: January 15, 2013, 09:06:05 AM »
Anyone else dealing with the dreaded wrist-rot? Since MMM attracts a disproportionate number of computer professionals and engineers, I'm guessing I am not the only one suffering. So here's a thread to share tips, tricks, and gripe.

EDIT:
Gripe the first : Physio is expensive, and my insurance should really cover more of it.

mindaugas

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2013, 09:23:56 AM »
Nope, never had this issue. I don't use any ergo comfort stuff, just standard mouse and KB. From sitting all day I get some lower back pain so i do situps or ride my bike. maybe the same principal applies to carpal, just move around, do some pushups or something. Doesn't work immediately but after a few days maybe feel better. trust me, I once pretended to be a doctor for Halloween.

Scuba Stache

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2013, 09:38:10 AM »
I came across this random YouTube video for hand and forearm stretches that seem to really help when my hand/wrist gets sore.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUyMNyrOHJQ

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2013, 09:48:16 AM »
I came across this random YouTube video for hand and forearm stretches that seem to really help when my hand/wrist gets sore.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUyMNyrOHJQ
I use those stretches, actually. They are quite good.

@mindaugas
Pushups are a very bad idea if you're already dealing with the ailment. To strenghten one's wrists ahead of time, maybe, but -- do you even no what CTS is? It's nerve damage from pressure due to swelling inside the wrists. Tell me, just how an exercise that has me putting my body weight on that region is going to help with that? As a preventative, sure-- if you've only got sore wrists, maybe. Strengthening the region is probably a good preventative. But carpal tunnel isn't just sore wrists; the same as if you'd actually injured your back, you wouldn't start with situps.

twinge

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2013, 09:52:20 AM »
Also, it's important to know there's a difference between carpal tunnel syndrome caused by fluid build-up in the wrists and exacerbated by repetitive use --which is more common in females as a side-effect of hormonal changes due to pregnancy/nursing--and repetitive stress injury which is strictly from (duh) repetitive use.  The typical exercises can do more harm than good if you are of the former category.  The best thing for that is using an immobilizing brace during sleep.

velocistar237

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2013, 10:42:30 AM »
I've had some level of wrist RSI for several years. I used a combination of things to take it down to a barely noticeable level:
  • I did a general ergonomic assessment, and did things like set my chair arms such that they give slight support to my arms while I'm typing.
  • I learned to use my mouse with my non-dominant hand, which helped get the mousing arm more toward my body centerline in the case of left-handed use with keyboards that have a keypad
  • Trigger point massage, especially in the neck and forearm, in case it's a referred pain
  • I stopped using trackpads, since those seemed to give me problems
  • I used Workrave, a computer program that tells you when to take breaks and what exercises to do during those breaks, though I don't use it anymore
  • I picked up a Wacom Bamboo tablet, for variety, though I don't use it much anymore. It helped especially with fine motions like photo editing.

James

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2013, 10:58:24 AM »
I've dealt with carpal tunnel since I was a teenager working in a potato warehouse handling 5 and 10 pound bags of potatoes all day with my fingertips. I can usually get it to back off by avoiding stressing it once it starts to act up, I'm very lucky to be in a profession that doesn't stress it too much.  I see a ton of carpal tunnel surgeries every year, and I keep wondering when that will be me.

One thing that seems to really help me is taking a Vit B6 every day.  I don't think of it as a cure, just something that lets my body fight off the cause better.  If it really acts up I wear a wrist brace for activities that bother it, and at night if it's burning at night.

velocistar:  I think you have a point in the track pad usage, I think I'll switch to using a mouse all the time.  I've tried switching to using my left hand for the mouse, but it's a real pain so I've never got it down well enough to find practical.  I might if it ever gets that bad.  I would like a Wacom for photography, just can't justify the purchase right now, but some day.
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yomimono

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2013, 11:13:22 AM »
I had my first really bad bout with RSI when I was about 14 (too many video games / long typing sessions, plus bad posture when playing cello).  I'm currently working as a computer programmer.  I haven't had to take much time off because of wrist problems in the past few years (maybe a couple of hours every six months or so).  Here's what works for me:
  • Making sure to fall asleep in some position that encourages my wrists to be straight all night
  • Never ever ever using a mouse - all trackpad, all the time (total opposite of velocistar)
  • Using an external monitor at about the right height
  • Using a split keyboard and varying its position
  • Using a standing desk sometimes - see the standing desk thread in the DIY forum for ideas
  • Sitting on a ball (not sure whether this really helps the wrists or not, but it hasn't hurt)
  • Listening to my body.  If my wrists hurt, it's time for a walk, period; nobody's deadline is worth my health and livelihood

I.P. Daley

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2013, 11:24:47 AM »
One of the things I've found that helps me is not using an ergo keyboard, but using a heavy-duty buckle-spring keyboard like the old IBM Model M or any keyboard that gives a lot of force feedback in usage. (Which reminds me, I really should replace mine... mine finally hit the unrepairable stage after 24 years of solid use. Short in the board.)

velocistar:  I think you have a point in the track pad usage, I think I'll switch to using a mouse all the time.

There's also the IBM/Lenovo TrackStick that seems to be a favorite of wrist injury folks. Love the things, personally. Should probably just bite the bullet and buy this thing. I know it'll last another 20+ years and give me both a buckle-spring keyboard with trackstick, but I can't seem to bring myself to drop the $100. There's also trackballs, and like Velocistar, I find trackpads aggravate me more than help.
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jba302

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2013, 11:32:07 AM »
As someone who has dealt with CTS a LOT (I work in insurance - worker's comp... not evil though I promise!), some important points in this discussion -

CTS is caused by -
1. Anatomical shittiness: small carpal tunnel, a dislocation or a fracture causing a tightening of the tunnel.
2. Health issue: Diabetes, weight issue, alcoholism.
3. Fluid balance issues. Pregnant ladies have this happen a lot (twinge spoke on this)
4. Really really aggressive vibratory movements and hard wrist bending. However, in this department, there is very little hard evidence to establish a causal connection, moreso it is an aggravative factor.

For something like typing, there's virtually no evidence that typing and mouse movements cause CTS. As in almost literally none, the newest and best research puts a hard line here. When you are getting carpal tunnel aggravation from typing, you're basically poking a sore with a stick or twisting a broken bone, but the typing itself wasn't why the issue occurred. This is why you get such spotty input from people between "never had an issue in my life" (e.g. me, typing near the 80-90 wpm range for years) and someone who can barely move their hands (usually an overweight person with uncontrolled diabetes or some such thing).

Point being, either do whatever it takes to minimize the personal aggravators (in some cases you're out of luck here), or have surgery. Physio treatments are temporary solutions for odd cases where you don't normally have indicators but for whatever reason the nerve got inflammed.

velocistar237

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2013, 12:02:51 PM »
Starswirl, if you don't mind, did you get diagnosed as having CTS, or do you more likely have RSI?

Meadow Lark

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2013, 12:48:59 PM »
I am very prone to it.  Got it first in college working in a mail room, then got much worse working in data entry.  Had to quit that within 3 months and was quite disabled for 6 months.  Couldn't barely open doorknobs, couldn't wash dishes, constant pain.  Horrible, especially when you live alone.  Chose nursing because I do not do too many repetitive tasks.  I can start hurting just by web surfing a little too much!  I think I am just ridiculously prone to something, CTS or RSI.  So my advice, if it gets bad early in your career you need a new career. 
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twinge

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2013, 02:03:21 PM »
Quote
CTS is caused by -
1. Anatomical shittiness: small carpal tunnel, a dislocation or a fracture causing a tightening of the tunnel.

I have the thinnest wrists out of anyone I ever met--especially given that I'm fairly tall and have big hands.  Once I got CTS from pregnancy (my first--over a decade ago) I found out that thin wrists are a common risk factor for it.  It mainly went away until my next pregnancy. Now, my CTS symptoms seem to return I overuse my hands.  But I stop it mainly by wearing a brace at night and taking breaks in repetitive work--and being more careful in how I pick up my toddler daughter.  I was told NOT to do most stretches that I see recommended on-line as they exacerbated the issue. 

Norman Johnson

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2013, 02:26:48 PM »
I have CTS from holding my child the same way every single day. It's better now that I'm back at work. I wear a brace at night when it gets bad. I was told that's the most important time as people tend to sleep in ways that makes the swelling and pressure worse.

Skyn_Flynt

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2013, 04:35:59 PM »
Quote
I learned to use my mouse with my non-dominant hand, which helped get the mousing arm more toward my body centerline in the case of left-handed use with keyboards that have a keypad
I did this too, use one hand at work and the other hand at home. It felt strange for a few months but you can develop enough ambidexterity to not even notice anymore.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2013, 12:04:08 PM »
Starswirl, if you don't mind, did you get diagnosed as having CTS, or do you more likely have RSI?
It's official. CTS, mild, aggravated by RSI/tendonitis, whatever. For CTS, I fall under the "anatomical shittiness" category-- I can wrap my thumb and pinkie finger around my wrist without effort at the widest point. Unless I do something stupid, it doesn't actually cause much issue--I've had bouts with this before--but when it is aggravated, I have all that fun tingly/numbness/etc business. The university I'm working at now gives its grad students 1960s writing desks for the laptops we're expected to bring in ourselves-- an ergonomic nightmare. I probably have tendonitis in the wrists, too-- I can't pull my wrists up to anywhere near a 90-degree angle to my forearms. Physio was suggested to help with that as much as the carpal tunnel; the hope, I think is to get the rest of the region in good order to lower inflammation and take pressure off the nerves. Like others, I find bracing overnight helps me not wake up with numb tingling claws for hands.

That and obviously I need a new bloody desk, but that doesn't seem to be happening. I think I may have to come in on the weekend and slap on a keyboard tray at the proper height and hope no one notices (since no-one but us grad students ever come in here, I should be safe.)

I am very prone to it.  Got it first in college working in a mail room, then got much worse working in data entry.  Had to quit that within 3 months and was quite disabled for 6 months.  Couldn't barely open doorknobs, couldn't wash dishes, constant pain.  Horrible, especially when you live alone.  Chose nursing because I do not do too many repetitive tasks.  I can start hurting just by web surfing a little too much!  I think I am just ridiculously prone to something, CTS or RSI.  So my advice, if it gets bad early in your career you need a new career. 
Eeyup. I'm exploring my options, but my PhD in computer simulations of nanomaterials is NOT getting finished. Good thing I only started this fall. I don't think I can be a code monkey with my anatomy. (even if I could, academic code monkey isn't really a fun job, and doesn't pay near enough)