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is carpal tunnel syndrome curable?

I've heard that surgery can totally cure this, is this true?

Tue. Sep 18, 4:43pm

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carpal tunnel

I had carpal tunnel surgery on one wrist. I have the condition in the other and have not had surgery and wear wrist braces on my wrists at night (every night for the past, what, 10 years?). The surgery was extremely effectivefor me, but is not a sure thing for everyone.

The surgery itself lasted 15 minutes, I couldn't use my hand for a week or so, and I have never had my fingers fall asleep on that hand since. However, it took months (or more like a year or so) to rebuild strength in that wrist (do yoga downward dogs to build strength). The surgery was totally worth it. Some people have less success though.

I chose not to have the surgery on the other side because there was a test that was required on the first one that I could not face for the second one. It was torturous electrical shocks on my hand to see which nerve responded to what stimulae (to prove, irrefutably, that I indeed had carpal tunnel). I have heard that that test is no longer required.

My recommendations:
1. Do physical therapy exercises, such as with the dense silly putty stuff from a physical therapist or your doc to strengthen your wrist. You can do strength training too. Put your 2 or 5 lb weights in your hands as if you are going to do a bicep curl, instead of lifting the weight to curl the bicep, just bend at the wrist. This helps strengthen the wrist and the forearm, and stretches the top of the hand. Stretching your fingers, i.e., straight arm our front, bend the fingers backwards (toward you) with the other hand, helps stretch the wrists too.
2. Lose weight. Fat people tend to have carpal tunnel more than skinny people since the fat presses o nthe nerves at your wrist (it wasn't the case in my situation--I am significantly heavier now than I was when I was getting the surgery--mine was a case of sheer repetitive stress). Try for the 10 % weight loss and see if that helps.
3. Get the good kind with the steel panel on the palm and underside of the wrist, that fit your hand well. Don't get the kind with the foam stiffener (it bends). Wear the braces religiously, especially at night. People tend to curl their hands when they sleep, causing the nerves to fall asleep, and with daily repetitive stress injuries, the nighttime curling adds to the injury. When I don't wear my braces, I feel it the next few days.
4. Try, try to not use your computer, or use it as little as possible. Learn to use the control keys instead of your mouse (it makes a huge difference. Really). Get an ergonomic keyboard, and if you can, get an ergonomic study of your office workspace (if your employer offers one). Your employer's workman's compensation office probably has a booklet on it, or maybe, if you are seeing a physical therapist, they can help. Getting your office desk top, chairs, computer screens, keyboards all at the right height, elbow position, seat height, back support, etc. is huge to when we have carpal tunnel or other repetitive stress injury. If you don't work at a desk and your carpal tunnel comes from other work, get whomever can help to show you either other ways to do your job to reduce your injury, or stuff like that.
5. Go to the doc, get the prescription strength ibuprofen or whatever he prescribes it to reduce swelling.
6. Be proactive. You don't want to start dropping jars, knives, or other implements (which is where I was with mine before I finally got evaluated).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 7:45 PM

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My father had the surgery and experienced very little improvement, so when my mother developed it several years later, she wouldn't even consider surgery. She wore that arm/hand brace every waking hour and started eating with her other hand and everything.

However, I knew several people who'd had 2-3 sessions of Rolfing and were completely fixed. Rolfing is considered a type of massage, but it's kind of vicious and more like getting 6 weeks of physical therapy in one hour - it's definitely not a "feelgood", and it tends to cost about 50% more than a massage. So I got my mom a session for Mother's Day 3 years ago, and over the course of the following six weeks (it's not like going to a chiropractor - the full effect happens over time), she experienced 95% improvement. The Rolfer said it usually takes at least two sessions, I guess she's just very receptive. She takes care not to do anything repetitively and bring it back.

So if you're interested in avoiding elective surgery and think that it's worth relatively little $ to try an alternative therapy, that's the direction you should start with.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 11:30 PM

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not the op but thanks for the advice.. the person that mentioned using the keys and not the mouse as much. the only thing the keys do is move the page up and down or am I missing something. I do have my dittz moments lol

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 8:30 AM

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There are very few things you can do with a mouse that you can't do using the keys of your computer (I am old enough to remember when mice were 'newfangled' inventions and enough programmers do so that it is still possible to navigate quite well with no mouse). You can even turn your numeric keypad into a mouse and control the pointer with the number keys.

I've provided a link to start off with - it's a bit of adjusting at first to get used to the commands, but once you've got them down, it's often faster to use the keyboard shortcuts than to navigate and click with a mouse.

One example - hit Alt+LeftArrowKey or Alt+RightArrowKey instead of clicking on the little 'back' arrow to browse backwards and forwards when using the internet - sooo much faster than moving the mouse and clicking on it. Or hit Ctrl+Esc instead of mousing over and clicking on the 'Start' button.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 10:53 AM

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