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Beware of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

By JDogg in News
Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 07:13:48 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

Having just seen Rusty on his PC at work and now at home, I am reminded of my current unfortunate disability, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I used to make snide remarks and joke about CTS, but now that i have therapy for it thrice a week, the joke is on me. I predict that more and more people of my generation will develop this problem as mass prolonged computer use continues.

I have been using some form of PC since i was 7 or 8 years old. Over a billion keystrokes and mouse-clicks later, it hurts for me to type and use the computer. I neglected all the ergonomic wrist rests, mouse pads and other preventive devices while i chose to start a career in computers, unaware of the side-effects.

It all happened one weekend last September. At first I thought I had sprained my wrists, but then I realized that the faint infrequent numbing sensations i felt in my hands were from CTS. I now use the wrist wrests and ergonomic precautions I should have been practicing years ago.

Six months after I was diagnosed with minor CTS, the symptoms remain. I have to do certain wrist excercises 5 times a day, soak my hands in contrast baths at night, wear wrist braces to bed and when I use the PC at work. The pain comes and goes and feels more of fatigue than a sharp uncomfortable senstation. There is an outside chance that I will have to undergo a surgical procedure which could relieve me of all discomfort, but would leave my hands unfunctionable for 2 months.

This is just a warning and reminder to all of you tech workers out there. Make sure you take breaks from coding. Get up and walk around your apt or office, and as useless as it may seem, take appropriate ergonomical precautions. My generation is the first to have been exposed to PC use throughout their lives and I predict more and more of people my age will find themselves experiencing symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is your public service announcement for the day.


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Beware of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome | 5 comments (5 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
A close call (none / 0) (#1)
by bmetzler on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 08:34:28 PM EST

I think this is a good warning to heed. You never know when you'll succomb to CTS. I greatly encourage everyone to pay attention to the danger.

In my case, it was last December when I noticed that I was starting to develop a problem. I'd come home from working on a computer all day, then work on and then work on my computer at home all evening. By the time I'd get off the computer in the evening, my wrists were starting to really hurt.

For Christmas I got a wristpad. I've always had one at work, which is probably the reason I didn't experience the pain. But at home I'd just sit there with my wrists on the edge of the desk, and of course, they'd hurt. Maybe if I was a real typist and hold my writs high in the air, it'd be better. But I don't, so I have to live with it. Anyways, as soon as I got the wristpad, my wrists no longer hurt after a session at the keyboard.

The wristpad is probably the most important peripheral you can buy. Don't go another day without one

www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
RSI too (none / 0) (#2)
by perplexed on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 09:17:06 PM EST

I'm Not A Doctor, but here's what I've learned after dealing with this for the past week.

1. Check out the Typing Injury FAQ, not all wrist pain is Carpal Tunnel, and there are alot of options for getting better.

2. Use anti-inflammatory pain relievers like Ibuprofen (Advil) and Naprosyn (Alleve). My sister had some left over Percocet which did nothing for my wrists.

3. Buy *good* ergonomic devices: MS Natural keyboard, Aeron chair. Wrist splints from K-Mart is probably not the way to go.

4. Desk Stretching

5. But the most important thing is see a doctor immediately after noticing pain.

Re: RSI too (none / 0) (#3)
by rusty on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 11:54:37 PM EST

On the humorous side of this, I had this image in my head when I looked at the "Dek Stretching" page. Picture the scene...

Int. cubicle setting. Tight shot on the hacker. Sweat beads on the forehead and upper lip. The fingers fly and the keyboard rattles like the end of "Scarface." This hacker is flying. Suddenly, cramp!. Will it kill the project? Will the security hole in the Brown Paper Bag release go unfixed till tomorrow? No! [cue "Eye of the Tiger", go to slow-mo] The hacker stands up, turns, tight shot on the face, his inhuman anguish, and will to persevere. [Start "desk stretch" montage] ...hacker twisting, with arms on hips...hacker with hands on wall, head bent down, sweat dripping slow-mo off a sopping brown ringlet of hair... hacker jumping rope... hacker hitting the heavy bag, lip gnarled in pure animal rage. This code will ship on time. Oh yes, it will...

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Some thoughts... (none / 0) (#4)
by joeyo on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 12:35:53 PM EST

I too am Not A Doctor but the neruophysiology of pain (chronic pain in particular) has been a recent topic in one of my classes so I have some new insights into this:

2. Use anti-inflammatory pain relievers like Ibuprofen (Advil) and Naprosyn (Alleve).

I think this is very important. Chronic pain, and lets assume for now that CTS and RSI are chronic, has the peculiar trait that it persists long after the cause of tissue damage has gone away. There is some debate as to why exactly this is the case, but there is substantial evidence that if you experience pain for a certain duration (days, weeks, months, whatever) it will transition to chronic pain and will persist long after the cause has passed.

[The mechanism for this pain -> chronic pain effect is still being researched but it seems to be related to how memories are stored in the brain.]

So if you are feeling pain in your wrists take some sort of pain medication, even if the pain is mild, because it will help stem any "wind-up" to chronic pain. (This is incidentally why doctors will often prescribe analgesics before an operation)

With that said, it can't hurt (haha) to stop the cause of the pain too.

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Re: Beware of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (none / 0) (#5)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 05:18:02 PM EST

I've been noticing in the past few days my wrists have been hurting. Especially my right wrist which I use to control my mouse when I play FPS games (UT mostly now but I've been playing since back in the pre-quake days). I used to joke about CTS too :( Now I think I'm developing it.

Beware of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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