December 2, 2010

The CTS Cast

I strongly suspect I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my right arm.

This ought to be no great surprise. An entire lifetime spent using computers and in particular mouses could not help but have produced repetitive motions. And like a lot of people, I have posture that is not so good, especially while sitting.

About a year ago when the pain first started being noticeable, I didn't do much of anything about it. No pain, no pain. I tried to take it easy, tried to revive my experiment with voice-control for my computer at work, tried to rearrange my keyboard and mouse to hold my arm in different postures. None of it worked and probably some of it made the problem worse.

When it got to the point that I felt like I was losing strength in the arm, or at least that picking up things like bags of groceries was too painful to endure, I got a cast to wear while sleeping. It's comfortable enough but it seems to produce better effects in the morning only when I strap it on very tightly. This can make sleeping a bit uncomfortable, and it's off-putting, to say the least, to reduce my right arm to a nearly-useless club right before going to bed.  It also doesn't do much for the pain below the cast line, down towards my elbow.

A bleg -- what other kinds of self-treatments can I do, relatively affordably and easily, that will alleviate the shooting jolts of pain and the sensation of weakness in my arm and hand?

4 comments:

Dan said...

If you find that typing is a significant contributor to your symptoms, getting a cushioned gel strip to rest your wrists on makes a huge difference. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I found it very effective.

That said, if the pain really is shooting into your arm and is worsening/unrelenting, I would casually suggest you get it checked out.

His Lordship The Gun-Toting Atheist said...

I used a Dynaflex Powerball to reabilitate my wrist after a sprain. The manufacturer claims it also helps relieve pain from CTS.

I've been told that people with CTS should try squeezing and rolling a tennis ball onto a tabletop with the underside of their wrist to massage the tissue between the radial and ulnar bones.

A lot of musculoskeletal conditions are caused by muscular imbalances. In many people, the wrist extensors are under-developed and doing reverse wrist curls will help restore balance to the joint. But I would consult an upper extremity orthopedist before beginning any exercise program to make sure the exercises will not inadvertently aggravate the condition.

Mike said...

Find something to exercise the wrist.

Mike said...

Find something to exercise the wrist.

A soft rubber ball (squishable) often works, or playing with some elastic putty (http://www.puttyworld.com/) works wonders.

There are also various varieties of ergonomic mouse that get your wrist out of the unnatural "curled left" position and into a more natural "handshake" position.