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carpal tunnel syndrome (sorry, it's long)

Posted by Robin on 6/15/99 at 00:00 (007835)

A few days ago, Scott and some others posted regarding carpal tunnel syndrome and its relation to PF. Here's my story. I have managed to beat carpal tunnel successfully without surgery so maybe this will help someone with CTS and PF.

In late 1995, I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. (I am a professional writer and have been for more than 25 years. I have spent many of those years on a keyboard. CTS was not a surprise.) Ten years earlier, my right wrist was operated on for DeQuervain syndrome (similar to CTS except it affects the thumb); the operation was successful, but I was not anxious to have two more surgeries.

The CTS was extremely severe. I couldn't hold open a book or tie shoes or write or carry a bag without pain. Even the orthopedic surgeon (who was quite conservative) didn't suggest interim measures; he suggested surgery. At the time, I was between jobs and also relocating from the northeast to the southeast, so I decided to take a few months and see if I could repair the damage myself. Here is what I did.

1) I wore metal-braced carpal tunnel splints on both hands all the time, every minute of every day except for in the shower. I did this for about six months. Then for the next six months, I wore them only when I used my hands and when I slept -- which was probably 16 to 18 hours a day. Constant splinting was critical for me.

2) I used my hands as little as possible. I took a few months off to move so I wasn't working, but even when I started working again, I took 'alternative' kinds of jobs where I didn't have to use my hands very much (hostessing in restaurants, etc. -- not real lucrative, but they got me through, along with my savings). In effect, I stayed off a keyboard for over a year.

3) I did experiment a little with vitamin B-6 and B-complex, but mostly B-6. I took about 100 mgs., occasionally 200 mgs, for about 2 months. B-6 is a serious vitamin; it is not like vitamin C where you can pop a ton of it and basically do no damage. You CAN cause nerve damage with an overdose of B-6, and 100 mgs is definitely more than is recommended. However, it has been known to positively affect CTS.

4) I slept with both hands hanging off the side of the bed, as much as possible (splinted of course). No one seems to know why this help CTS, but it does. I think it helped me.

5) I gave up most of my hobbies that required the use of my hands (quilting, guitar, decorative painting, etc.). That was a permanent give-up.

6) I didn't abuse my hands. If I had to carry bags in from the car, I carried one at a time, five trips if necessary. I didn't write letters. I did what was necessary, but that was about it.

7) I ate a healthy diet -- nothing spectacular, just healthy. Fish, chicken, cottage cheese, skim milk, vegetables, greens -- healthy.

8) Gradually, I was able to introduce hand strengthening exercises.There are several books available with hand exercises for CTS sufferers.

I was pretty much repaired after six months, but I really gave myself a year of self-therapy. Today I am back writing for a living and on the keyboard a lot. I take precious good care of my hands, and I still sleep with a metal splint on the left one.

I wish PF were as easy to fix as carpal tunnel was for me. I have no doubt that they are connected and that suseptibility to one means suseptibility to the other. Anyway, I hope this little saga helps someone.


Re: carpal tunnel syndrome (sorry, it's long)

BarbJ on 6/15/99 at 00:00 (007838)

Why not strengthen your feet with foot strengthening exercises as you did for your hands? I have done this for six months and am now cured after almost 3 years with pf.

Re: carpal tunnel syndrome (sorry, it's long)

WANDA on 6/15/99 at 00:00 (007839)

what kind of exercise did you do , I do them all during the day maybe your'e doing something different than me . I'm so glad that your doing better and pain free.

Re: carpal tunnel syndrome (sorry, it's long)

BarbJ on 6/15/99 at 00:00 (007838)

Why not strengthen your feet with foot strengthening exercises as you did for your hands? I have done this for six months and am now cured after almost 3 years with pf.

Re: carpal tunnel syndrome (sorry, it's long)

WANDA on 6/15/99 at 00:00 (007839)

what kind of exercise did you do , I do them all during the day maybe your'e doing something different than me . I'm so glad that your doing better and pain free.

Re: carpal tunnel

Robin B. on 11/30/99 at 00:00 (013233)

Carpal tunnel is easy to diagnose and easy to treat. If you are waking up with numbness and tingling in your hands -- sure sounds like CTS. I wouldn't waste any time with getting to a doctor and getting treated. I have had severe CTS in both wrists and managed to treat it without surgery and without cortisone injections. I used nearly constant wearing of splints, a little vitamin B-6 therapy (which can be a wee bit toxic if you don't do it right)and a ton of rest for my hands. The earliest you get at it, the better. CTS CAN be damaging if you have it and neglect to treat it.

Re: carpal tunnel

Rosalind on 11/30/99 at 00:00 (013240)

I have experienced the same thing, and would add to the above suggestions some good massage therapy. That and the splints kept me from having surgery.

Re: carpal tunnel

Robin B. on 12/10/99 at 00:00 (013554)

Wendy, carpal tunnel syndrome is an easy one to diagnose. Any orthopod specializing in hands and arms can do it. CTS is infamous for waking people up in the middle of the night with numbness and tingling in their hands. Also increased pain using your hands such as cutting with scissors, holding open a book, carrying a grocery bag, etc.

Fortunately carpal tunnel is also relatively easy to fix and doesn't always require surgery. Four years ago I had CTS in both hands so badly I couldn't do any of the things I mentioned above. Within a year, I treated myself successfully with the nearly constant use of metal CTS splints, extreme rest for my hands, slightly higher dose of vitamin B-6 and decent diet and moderate aerobic exercise. The splints were the key for me, along with NOT using my hands hardly at all; you can get very good splints for about $15-$20 in a medical supply store.

Within about 8 or 9 months I had the whole thing licked without surgery (although I still use a split for my left hand even today -- I sleep with it at night). Don't let CTS go undiagnosed and untreated; it CAN be very damaging if left untreated.


Re: carpal tunnel

Robin B. on 11/30/99 at 00:00 (013233)

Carpal tunnel is easy to diagnose and easy to treat. If you are waking up with numbness and tingling in your hands -- sure sounds like CTS. I wouldn't waste any time with getting to a doctor and getting treated. I have had severe CTS in both wrists and managed to treat it without surgery and without cortisone injections. I used nearly constant wearing of splints, a little vitamin B-6 therapy (which can be a wee bit toxic if you don't do it right)and a ton of rest for my hands. The earliest you get at it, the better. CTS CAN be damaging if you have it and neglect to treat it.

Re: carpal tunnel

Rosalind on 11/30/99 at 00:00 (013240)

I have experienced the same thing, and would add to the above suggestions some good massage therapy. That and the splints kept me from having surgery.

Re: carpal tunnel

Robin B. on 12/10/99 at 00:00 (013554)

Wendy, carpal tunnel syndrome is an easy one to diagnose. Any orthopod specializing in hands and arms can do it. CTS is infamous for waking people up in the middle of the night with numbness and tingling in their hands. Also increased pain using your hands such as cutting with scissors, holding open a book, carrying a grocery bag, etc.

Fortunately carpal tunnel is also relatively easy to fix and doesn't always require surgery. Four years ago I had CTS in both hands so badly I couldn't do any of the things I mentioned above. Within a year, I treated myself successfully with the nearly constant use of metal CTS splints, extreme rest for my hands, slightly higher dose of vitamin B-6 and decent diet and moderate aerobic exercise. The splints were the key for me, along with NOT using my hands hardly at all; you can get very good splints for about $15-$20 in a medical supply store.

Within about 8 or 9 months I had the whole thing licked without surgery (although I still use a split for my left hand even today -- I sleep with it at night). Don't let CTS go undiagnosed and untreated; it CAN be very damaging if left untreated.