Monthly Archives: February 2009

Thoughts on carpal tunnel syndrome

I’ve been fighting Carpal Tunnel for about two years now, and I still haven’t gotten over it. (That’s one reason I haven’t been blogging much.) Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Carpal tunnel is a misnomer for what I (and many people) have. It describes a nerve being compressed in the wrist. The problem is, the symptoms are identical to the nerve being compressed anywhere between the brain and the hand.
  • That being the case, surgery would do nothing for me. Anti-inflammatory medicine (such as aspirin) can help with the symptoms, and for some that’s good enough.
  • You can have CT and also have lots of other problems simultaneously that have the same symptoms. In my case, I have real CT, but the main problems seem to be due to muscle tension compressing all three nerves (median, radial, and ulnar). And it’s tension near the elbows, arm pits, shoulders, and neck.

The symptoms I have aren’t bad, but they are persistent. I’m not worried about the numbness and tingling; I just want to be able to continue to use computers for the next 50 years without too much nerve damage. But for now I’ve given up laptops (or at least I’m trying to) and I’m trying all sorts of things. This week I’ve got one hour of physical therapy (which is really helpful, although I’ve been at it for six months), a massage (which is similar to PT, but less painful), and two visits to a Chiropractor. (Just had my first ever visit on Monday. It seemed to improve my posture, which is important since bad posture is one of my biggest problems.) I also spend a significant portion of the evenings trying to replicate what the PT does. (She gives me homework.)

It’s likely that this will be a persistent battle. Rather than going back to normal, I’ll be doing some amount of self-care for the rest of my life. If I’m lucky, that will mainly involve a few simple exercises, a hot bath every once in a while, and the occasional massage. That wouldn’t be so bad.