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Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

Cliff posted more than 14 years ago | from the solution-for-painful-wrists? dept.

News 357

Kyrrin asks a question all of might have to face if we aren't careful: "I always thought that carpal tunnel syndrome was mostly invented by doctors -- until I started showing symptoms myself. I'm almost convinced of the need for surgery -- is there anyone else out there who has had this done? If so, what sort of recovery time did you have before you were reasonably self-sufficient again? "

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Surgery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653325)

What exactly does the surgury entail?
What do they do to you?
I have had symtoms of CTS, and it is painful. I was mostly able to correct it by changing the way I type so that I wasn't constantly holding my hands in a position that caused pain. I simply analized where exactly I was hurting, and didn't put my hands in a position to stress that bone/joint/muscle.

Re:Some useful links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653335)

Hear Hear!. I had severe trouble with one hand; numb fingers being the main symptom, and for sure the MS keyboard fixed the problem - and some appalling typing habits. It takes about a week to get used to the darn thing and, if you can, try and pick up one of the original models before they 'improved' it with the smaller function keys and stupid cursor arrow placement (I think this was done to reduce the footprint - it is a fairly large beast!).

CTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653336)

The carpal tunnel is a narrow channel which runs runs through the inner side of the wrist. It is formed by carpal bones on three sides and a carpal ligament on the fourth. Tendons inside that tunnel run parallel to the extremely fragile median nerve. This nerve passes from the shoulder and forearm to the hand Repetitive finger movements, pinching and squeezing with fingertips, hand exertions with bent wrist, excessive use of the index finger, twisting of wrists, overly tight grip and uneven work movement can lead to a painful condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. Simple CTS occurs when the presence of fluid or the thickening of tissues squeezes the median nerve. The more serious condition of Secondary CTS occurs when inflamed tendon sheaths in the carpal tunnel (tenosynovitis) cause increased pressure on the median nerve. Tendonitis on the other hand is an irritation of a muscle tendon. Tendonitis can occur if a tendon is subject to a forceful strain or a period of small repetitive srains. Both conditions can result from the same type of repetitive movements.

Try switching keyboards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653337)

It might be your keyboard. I've heard that the Happy Hacking keyboard does wonders. I haven't tried it myzelf but I'm worried about this as well. --Michael Bacarella

I know what does not help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653341)

Playing Tetris is the worst thing you can do. I think I had the symptoms due to Tetris. I don't play it anymore and feel much better.

Re:Surgery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653346)

There are at least 2 types of surgery (These are for CORPAL tunnel - very simular surgery)

1) Slice open outside of elbow - Grind a groove in your bone so that the nerve has more room to move around. They also remove scar tissue from the nerve, and give it more moving space.

2) Slice open elbow - Move the nerve to a differnet place on your elbow. Usually on the INSIDE of your elbow. This will give you a nice 10" scar on your arm. This makes it so your 'funny bone' is in a different place.

Either way, the only way to let the nurve heal is to leave it alone. The surgeries make it so it doesn't get MORE injured.


What worked for my Carpal Tunnel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653347)

First of all, a doctor will try to find out if you really have carpal tunnel syndrome. A classic symptom is where your thumb, pointer, middle, and ring fingers get numb, but not your pinky. The pinky's nerve is not routed through the tunnel. Secondly, waking up with numb hands (except for the pinky) is another sign. Finally, doing other activities that require repetitive motions with a tight grip will also bring on the numbness. For me, any kind of painting around the house will cause numbness. Using a screwdriver on my bike will cause numbness. This is what worked for me: 1. Set your keyboard as flat as possible 2. Move the keyboard toward the back of your desk, and sit with your forearms completely resting on the desk. For me, this results in perfectly straight alignment from elbow to hand, and I never get numb working this way. 3. If your mouse causes your hand to get numb, try a trackball, and vice versa. Right now, my trackball makes my hand numb, and a mouse feels find. This tends to switch back and forth, though. Your mileage may vary, but I've had carpal tunnel for years now, and the above steps help me manage it so I almost don't know I have it.

Someone said it Ill say it again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653348)

Your typing teachers were anal for a reason! Back Straight, hands NOT resting on ANYTHING, Make sure you are about arms length from your monitor get in that rigid pose and get used to it and its second nature. dont slouch. If you plan on doing computers for a long time... get used to it. Carpal tunnel is completely preventable from computer use ( some stuff like wrench turning maybe not ) butt Its not hard I had wrist pains and all from typing a lot. I just stretched my hands about every 15 minutes! ( I have the coolest little cofee cup on my monitors OSD stuff ) I just stop stretch for like 15-30 seconds sit there for another 15-30 and go back to work. Pain went away after like a month it was great. Oh and learn to write perl scripts that get progressively smaller and smaller! heh

Look for Alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653350)

My suggestion would be to explore all alternatives to surgery, which should be your *last* option. It is my understanding that it is a painful surgery with a long recovery period and gives no promise that the condition will not return. Please do see a good doctor. But I would also take a look at physical therapy (a good therapist will not only treat the problem but will also show ways to keep it from returning), massage therapy (not the 'feel good' kind but the deep, sports medicine type), and accupuncture (Western medicine is just beginning to appreciate this form of treatment). Keep in mind that healthcare professionals (like anyone) tend to see things from their own perspective and deal with them in the methods they understand. It is up to you as the patient to control your treatment and to explore all reasonable avenues for treatment. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to find out ahead of time what is and isn't covered. And, finally, do not hesitate to get a second or even third opion. Any good healthcare professional will respect your right to control your treatment.

Differing Typing Styles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653351)

I started playing with computers at a young age and was never taught to type correctly. As a result, I'm wondering about the possibilities of having this problem. I type such that both hands are over the keyboard and my arms themselfs move back and forth over their respective section of the keyboard. My fingers "know" where the keys are in relation to where my arm is at that point. So, for example, I can hit the "W" key with all my left fingers without thinking about it.

Any Ideas?

Use an old, heavy terminal keyboard if you can. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653353)

When I moved to my present position, I was given a Compaq. Hmmm, I thought -- that is an awfully expensive VT220. It was slow, too, but that's NT for you. After a few weeks, my wrists started hurting. This bothered me, so I changed my typing position, had the HR ergo person come by to see if I was doing anything wrong, and paid attention to posture. No dice -- my wrists were hurting more and more and I was really concerned. My mother (!) suggested that I get an old IBM keyboard and noted that she had had not problems typing 120 wpm on Selectrics and later AT keyboards, but when she was moved to a Dell with a crappy keyboard, she started to have wrist pain right away. off I went to the junk pile and I found myself a big old IBM keyboard -- the 8 pound kind. Then I gave my wrists a break and spent the weekend reading. At the end of the next week, my wrist pain was gone. It has been several months. I really wonder whether the key travel or the weight of an IBM keyboard is just better for you. I know that it helped me a lot. You can get them used lots of places, or new at (look at the closeout section -- you want a "buckling spring" keyboard).

They do type about 4x faster... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653354)

Could it be the fact that they type about 4x faster than us "non pro" typists?

My mother used to be a "pro", and she wore the full regalia (gloves, keyboard tray etc...) and has managed to stay relatively healthy despite years of continuous high-speed typing.

Re:Alternate forms of therapy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653357)

You're not a nutbag, just a little off -- what is helping you is accupressure, not the "energy." I tell people with wrist pain to loosen their watch and a day later their wrist pain is gone. How many of you out there have pain in your watch hand?

Aikido! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653358)

Practice Aikido! I'm not kidding. I had troubles with my wrists so I started to stretch my wrists with various Aikido maneuvers; kote-gaeshi, gaichi-gi. No kiddin', it worked!

B6 and B12 will help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653359)

take it with every meal... it'll shock you!

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653360)

1) Take frequent breaks 2) Arms OFF the table. 3) Stretch your hands OUT against resistance. 4) Ergonomics. 5) those bizarre hand things that force your wrists into an odd position. This is the most controversial... Vitamin B12 injection. Not take pills, not snort it, INJECTION. Subcutaneously/Intramuscular INJECTION of B12. Ask at your friendly neighbourhood drug store. You'll need a hefty gague syringe too, tell them it's for IM injection of cyanocobalamin (B12). Illegal in the US, LEGAL in Canada, total godsend. DISPOSE OF YOUR SHARPS PROPERLY.

Re:"Professional" typists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653361)

I never took any sort of typing class, and have been at computers since I was 10 or so.. (19 now) Never had any sort of pain, execpt after those 6 hour Quake marathons. (which I chalk up to just getting plain tired of moving my fingers around) I usually type with my wrists flat, sometimes hovering over the keyboard. I know it isn't the "correct" way to type, but I can go fairly fast when I want to.

I started out with a mouse, and now moved to a trackball with seemed to be much more comfortable, not to mention more accurate.. :)

Prevention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653362)

If it's not too late, do the following: 1) Get yourself an ergonomic trackball. Preferably a Logitech trackman marble of some sort, unless you enjoy cleaning the insides of your pointer an awful lot. 2) Get yourself a decent keyboard. The curves, angles, and keypress mechanisms of many keyboards vary wildly, but a nice, expensive Microsoft, Keytronic, or other $60-$150 keyboard almost always will relieve wrist strain relative to the cheap, mushy, badly angled $5.00 keyboards out there right now. 3) Make sure that your work surface is low enough so that your elbows are at 90 degrees when you are sitting and typing or using your trackball. For most people, these changes seem to do wonders for computer use-related strain.

Check this site. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653365)

I have been through an RSI. My site [] has quite a bit of information about RSIs, treatments.

Surgery should be the last resort. There are many alternatives, acupuncture, laser, cortisone, rest. Even if you have surgery, it may come back.

Patient: "Doctor, it hurts when I go like this."
Doctor: "So don't go like that."

RSI injured software engineer wins against Mattel! []

Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653367)

Is anyone else getting pains in there hands and wrist while reading this post.... hmm....

Surgery may be more harmfull than helpful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653368)

Hi, I have been living with CTS for over 12 years. It flairs up every twice in a while, but over that time, I have seen too many friends go thruogh the procedure at Mayo Clinic, Rochester MN with poor results to take the plunge myself. Instead, I have gone to the Chiropractor and Phisical Therapy at the local hospital for help. The people who have had the surgery have had mixed results. Some have had fair success, with reduced pain, increased mobility, etc., while others have results which have been far worse than the CTS itself. Now when I was young, and stupid, I got the CTS up in AK. when I was on the slime crew at a salmon freezing plant, long hours (16-18 a day all summer) gripping slipery fish and gutting them led to my problem. When I returned to the lower 48 that fall, I went to the Doc, who said that CTS was fiction. I decided for myself that the pain was real, so he was mis-informed. I went to P.T. at the hospital, which was helpful, but by far the best care I got was by going to the Chiropractor. I had never gone to a Chiropractor before, so I was skeptical. Sure, it took 4 months for the pain to subside completly, but it was worth it compaired to the mixed results of the surgery. For the last few years, I have needed only a few visits to maintain the proper alignment in my arms to keep from getting flair ups of pain again.

Just get some wrist splint thingies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653369)

In just about any drug store you can get those wrist support thingamabobs that looks like an elastic glove w/ a metal bar over the wrist/palm area. Wear these things every night when you sleep and within a week or so I bet your symptoms will pass.

I've only gotten arm/wrist/hand pains once (over a period of a month it kept getting worse), and wearing these things fixed it. I've been using computers almost daily since 1987 and have not had any problems except for that one month.

Learning how to type correctly (i.e. no two finger crap; learn home-row and proper typing techniques) is probably 90% of the reason I've been okay. People who wing it tend to have tons of trouble with repetitive stress injuries.


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653383)

To all of you out there who's wrist hurt all the time, as mine do, try glucosimine. It is a vitamin that helps in the rebuilding of tissue and stuff in your joints. It got rid of tennis elbow in my friend, and its helped TONS on my carpel tunnel. I guarantee after a month or so you won't be unhappy. You can buy it at GNC, and other herb/vitamin stores, and its not that expensive either. And I'n not anonymous, just left username and password at home, but my email is if anyone wants anymore info from me.

Re:symptoms (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653384)

I had similar problems. By lunchtime I couldn't type anymore, couldn't open a door, couldn't brush my teeth. After exploring different keyboards, mice, desks, chairs, and taking regular breaks I'm back to normal, providing I don't overdo it. CTS surgery has horrid horrid success rates. Something like less than 10% of surgeries are successful. Often you're worse off than before. Not worth it. There are some very good books on the subject.

Re:there is no easy fix (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1653385)

I agree, there is no easy fix. My wife had carpal tunnel. She went to one of the best neurosurgeons in Houston. He scared the living daylights out of us by saying that her symptoms were unusual, and that he needed to do an MRI to see if she had multiple sclerosis. Well, she didn't. He did the surgery and she got better, for a while. Later we came to the conclusion that it was the rest after the surgery that made her feel better, and not the surgery itself. You also need to be sure that the symptoms are not being caused by neck problems, rather than the wrist.

Try an egonomic keyboard. That is much cheaper than doctors. Also make sure your working position is ergonomically correct. If your symptoms do not improve you can try a chiropractor. The chiropractor can mobilize your neck and, I suppose, your wrist, but in my opinion the benefits are temporary.

The best suggestion I can make: if a better keyboard and better sitting and working position do not solve the problem, see Dr. Milne Ongley, who is considered by some to be the best Doctor of Orthopedic Medicine in the world. He is a pioneer in the area of using proliferant injections to strengthen ligaments for the purpose of stabilizing joints. You can look up his web site at [] .

As read from the back of my keyboard... (1)

Falrick (528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653388)

Some experts believe that use of any keyboard may cause serious injury to hands, wrists, arms, neck or back.

To reduce the risk of such injuries, follow these precautions:

[] Take frequent short pauses (at least 3 minutes per hour, or more if you feel this is appropriate for you) to let your body rest.

[] Vary your tasks throughout the day.

[] Keep your body neutral and try to stand up periodically throughout the day.

[] Align your keyboard and your monitor to keep your back and neck straight.

[] Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and that your elbows are at your sides.

[] Adjust your chair or workstation height to ensure that there is a 90 (degree sign) between your upper arm and lower arm and that your wrists are straight.

[] When typing use a light touch to strike the keys and avoid resting your wrists on sharp edges or hard surfaces.

[] Avoid arching or bending your wrists when you type; and

[] if you use a wrist wrest make sure that you use it only between keying tasks.

I never realized how many of these things I did wrong untill I saw them all in one place. Thank you NMB Keyboards!!!! (btw, NMB makes the best keyboard known to man kind. Nice and clicky!) For best effect, combine all of these precautions into one large melodramatic step: Once an hour, stand up and sit down for three minutes straight while wresting your wrists on a wristpad with your lower arms bent at a 90 degree angle to your upper arms, making sure that your back and neck are perfectly aligned and strait throught out the entire exercise.

Carpal Tunnel (1)

Suydam (881) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653390)

Here's a question: Which of my pains (listed in a second) are carpal tunnel related (possibly) and which are something else entirely.
  • Pains
  • FIngers hurt all the time
  • Fingers don't straighten fully when hands in relaxed position.
  • writs sore

Re:"Professional" typists (1)

Xamot (924) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653392)

I took a typing class in HS and I have no problem with my wrists. But I have been having problems with my fingers. I am guessing this is a type of RSI and not CTS. Anybody with more information about RSI's and how to prevent them?


Computer Users Surival guide (1)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653398)

It's from Oreilly. Worth every penny!

Doing streaches helps a lot.

My Dad had surgery. (1)

ChiefArcher (1753) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653402)

He had surgery on both hands... The recovery time for him was about 2 weeks per hand.
He said it was painless... So... Something I get to look forward to in the future..

About a month after his surgery he was able to do everything he had before. (Machine Labor)..

Chief Archer

Carpal Tunnel--Don't be misdiagnosed! (1)

CWCarlson (2884) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653409)

If your left wrist and arm continue to hurt even while away from the computer, you might consider the following:

An acquaintance of mine had complaints of shooting pains in his left hand and wrist, extending sometimes up the arm, and was diagnosed as suffering from CTS. After trying all the noninvasive treatments and solutions available, he decided to get another opinion from a different doctor, as a last-ditch alternative before surgery. The second doctor determined that he was experiencing low-grade heart attacks, treated *that* problem, and the pains vanished.

If you have a family history of heart disorders, don't overlook this possibility!

I have CTS (1)

smkndrkn (3654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653413)

I started showing symtoms about a year and a half ago...the pain in my wrists and the sudden numbness of a couple fingers. I don't have a bad case as of yet but I'm only 23 and have used the computer heavily for years. I just can't seem to find the best position for typing that doesn't cause discomfort anymore. I don't think the mouse has much to do with it...I think it is mostly the keyboard.

Alternate forms of therapy (1)

Cosmo (7086) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653420)

Okay, everyone might consider me a nutbag for this one, but I've had run-ins with carpel tunnel and have tried differient remidies with good results. First off, get yourself a chiropractor. In my experience chiropractors can do wonders for carpel. Also, and this is the weirdest of all, go get yourself a pair of those energy bracelets. The copper kind with the embedded magnets. I've loaned mine to several of my geek friends for just a few hours and they always end up ordering a pair. I got into them before the TV adds were around, as my mother is a chiropractor (suprise!) and she got me one for my birthday. I thought she was a total nutbag, but I wore it anyway just to humor her, and just a few hours later it felt like my wrists had been greased. Movement was painless and easier than it had been in recent memory, so I ordered anther one for my other wrist. Anyway, I suggest you at least get a pair of these copper bracelets, because it is well worth it. I'm not totally sure where you can buy a pair, but I can get them for something like $27.00 each. I'm not trying to make a sale here, I'd much rather not have to deal with it, but if you're unable to find them anywhere else let me know and I'll hook you up.

Kisesis Keyboard (1)

cotcomsol (7395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653421)

Buy a Kinesis Keyboard!! I was showing some major CT signs, then I bought a Kinesis ClassicQD Keyboard. Since then, I can work on the computer for twice as long at a sitting without any pain whatsoever.

Don't go to surgery (1)

hanwen (8589) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653423)

1. *Don't* get surgery. Because of formation of scar tissue, your problem may get worse, especially if you keep on typing the way you do. And remember: cutting in tissue can not be undone, so always use surgery as a last resort

2. *Do* take all the advice given here about ergonomics, input devices, stretching, breaks etc.

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a serious medical condition. If you think something is wrong, you have to see a doctor (which you did not, from what I've read). CTS is a condition which can be objectively diagnosed. If you are "convinced of the need for surgery", it doesn't mean medical science agrees with you.

SO: Go see a doctor

4. An important risk factor in RSI conditions is stress. I think you will be much better off doing some kind of therapy or practicing sports

For stress reduction and muscle relaxation, you might try sports without extreme
muscle strain (Tai-Chi, perhaps Aikido) or meditation (Yoga?)

5. An important risk factor in RSI conditions is
posture. I think you will be much better off doing posture therapy, eg. Feldenkrais, Alexander, Mensendieck, C\'esar, etc.

As a personal note, I had major complaints for years, and thought I had CTS. Only when I visited a posture therapist (Mensendieck), I discovered that my (backward) slouching made me put strain on my shoulders. My shoulder muscles would swell and put stress on my nerves and vessels, resulting in cold and tingling hands.

6. There are lots of resources on RSI on the net.
A good start is the (?) .rsi.moderated newsgroup

Alien technology in an ergo-keyboard (1)

kinesis (13238) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653436)

I was having some serious trouble with my wrists and forearms between ten hours of coding and my weight workouts.

I bought the Kinesis Ergo Classic with the footpad to help ease typing pain. And it helped a lot. But my condition was pretty severe and it wasn't long before, even with the new keyboard, I was in pretty serious discomfort.

I stepped up to the Data Hand [] keyboard about four months ago.

This is the final solution.

The design of this animal is so outrageously different, it's only vaguely recognizable as a keyboard. But it's worked wonders for me.

I bought a "Professional II" demo unit for 1/2 off. That came to 600 USD.

Yup. That's a full order of magnitude more than most ergo keyboards. And that was at 50% off!

Here's how I rationalized the purchase... I could either hurt myself, stop typing or try out the most expensive keyboard I'd ever seen. I gave it a try and, after a week of getting used to it, never looked back.

My lifting has improved, my productivity is up and I no longer dread the workday.

ask ________ anything. (1)

MoToMo (17253) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653440)

How about a "Ask ________, the Carpal Tunnel Expert Anything." This could be quite useful. Anyone know of an expert we could harass???

Mice vs Trackballs (1)

Dr. Smoe (18220) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653443)

Lately I've been thinking about switching from a
mouse to a trackball, so I have two questions:

- Does using a trackball really make a difference?

- Is there any brand/model of trackball that
anyone would care to recommend?

Re:trackball (1)

magic (19621) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653451)

I use my mouse left-handed and switched to a MS natural keyboard tipped down (i.e. near part higher). Aside from making it impossible to hit C-Y with my left hand, this works pretty well, keeps my wrists straight, and means that my right hand (arrow keys) and left hand (mouse) get an equal workout. As an added bonus, it is even harder for one's colleagues to use one's console :)


Carpal tunnel not the only RSI (1)

Aliera (19724) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653452)

It pays to see a specialist; I see an orthopedist myself. General practictioners often don't know much about typing injuries. The first GP I saw heard "it hurts when I type" and immediately diagnosed carpal tunnel and prescribed wrist braces. The only problem was, the pain kept getting worse.

When I saw an orthopedist, he said "You don't have carpal tunnel, but you will if you keep wearing those braces." I had either extensor tendinitis (1992 diagnosis) or radial tunnel syndrome (1999). In either case, the pain is in the upper forearm, not the wrist, and treating the wrist does no good at all; in fact, it was inducing a different typing injury!

So make sure you get a diagnosis for your pain, and that the treatment is making the pain better, not worse.

If you're specifically having mouse problems, you might consider the Dr. Mouse [] (formerly Anir Mouse). I tried and discarded a couple of alternate pointing devices before I settled on this.

See the Typing Injury FAQ [] for further pointers.

A friend of mine had CTS... (1)

RavenWolf (23378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653463)

She had a pretty bad case of it. It wasn't from using a computer wrong, however she did have a hard time using the computer before she had her surgery. She said her hands would go numb and be basically useless, sometimes with a painful tingling. She saw a doctor, and he suggested surgery. She didn't want to have surgery at first and tried other ways to make it better, but to no avail. So she had the surgery. They did surgery on one hand and waited 4 to 6 weeks for it to recover before doing the other hand. Just so that she wouldn't be completely disabled for 6 weeks. She says her hands feel perfectly normal now. Email me if you would like her email address, I'm sure she'd be happy to tell you more...

Re:Kisesis Keyboard (1)

kmcardle (24757) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653466)

Right on. I've got a Kinesis (given to me by a friend for $0 US! :O). Works wonders. Can hack all day without a problem. It sure has a funky design, but it only took me a day or two to get used to it.

Also, streching is very important. Just take a minute or two each hour to strech the hands and wrists.

Carpal Tunnel or Repetive Stress Injury (1)

millerkj (25479) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653468)

I had a problem with this back in college and still do. Too much Descent and Doom on top of Violin and CS.

Streching and Exercise help a lot. I had therapy for 2 months and it really did the trick. Surgery is something to always avoid.

#1 rule is if you have ANY pain stop. Relax. Message. Strech.

Make sure you are computing ergonomically it makes all the difference.

Please listen I would give anything to have my young wrists back.

Re:there is no easy fix (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653470)

I was having a lot of pain along the top of my hands which i figured was caused by how i typed. i got one of those gel-filled wrist pads for my keyboard and mouse, and they have helped tremendously. I only get pain now when i'm away from this pc and don't have the pads anymore. it also helps that i've started making myself notice how i type and making a concerted effort to keep my hands in a good position.

Kinesis Ergo Keyboards (1)

Icepick_ (25751) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653471)

Simply the best and most comfortable keyboards you can get.

I spent alot of time researching true ergo keyboards, none of thet MS crap thank you. Kinesis wins.

The best feature? They keys are arranged in columns, not on diagonals. Takes some getting used to, but is well worth it.

And if you've got the testicular fortitude, you can get them with the Dvorak keyboard layout.

Between the Dvorak layout, and the better hand positioning, my wrist pain is gone.

Surgery? Depends. (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653476)

It depends upon the particular situation whether surgery is needed. Your doctor needs to help you. There are levels of severity of the syndrome and treatments range through rest, anti-inflammatory drugs (starting with aspirin), up through surgery (invasive medicine is always the last resort). Remember that each body grows a little differently, so the details of how the wrist was assembled and your movement habits are different from other people.

Re:Don't get surgery. (1)

Grandpa_Spaz (29498) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653480)

As far as the chiropractor, I concur; I have been seeing one since I was 5 (mother took me with her). I am 20 now, and I must say that whenever I get too bad (soccer can hurt, for instance), I find a lot is caused to back mis-alignment. You'll be amazed to find the symptoms caused by it: pain in any extremity, numbness, hot/cold spots, organ misfunction (particularly urinary tract), etc. This might actually be the best route to go as a first step; if would really suck to have surgery when your back is merely sitting wrong!

Additionally, anyone from the Texas School of Chiropractics is good, too (in addition to Palmer); both are basically the in the same class as far as methods and quality. Hope this helps.


Acupuncture, Movement (1)

Eidolon (29916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653482)

I am amazed that no one has mentioned acupuncture. It helped me more than drugs, more than chiropractic (though chiropractic can be a very good thing). Surgery was not an option for me (I'm also a musician). When looking for an acupuncturist, ask if they are planning to needle the carpal tunnel area itself. If the answer is yes, find another acupuncturist; needling the local area will just make you feel worse.

It helps to get ergonomic input devices (I like Datadesk, Kinesis). It helps to make sure your workstation is set up properly, too.

I think the most important thing is taking breaks every 20-30 minutes. Repetitive stress injuries only happen when you stay frozen in the same position for long periods of time. If you get up, stretch and move periodically, you are much less likely to suffer from this type of problem.

Struck me funny (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653493)

You know it's a weird world when...

I use voice recognition software to chat now

Computers are just massive extensions of the brain, welcome to the 21st century.

Not an expert, but (1)

DonkPunch (30957) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653494)

I started showing signs of carpal tunnel a few years ago.

This is my highly dumbed-down understanding of CTS:

There is a narrow area in the rest through which tendons pass (the actual "carpal tunnel"). When the tendons start to swell through overuse, repetitive motion, or incorrect use, they pinch in the tunnel. This causes pain, numbness, etc.

I'm not against surgery per se (in fact, I had a torn pectoralis reattached 3 months ago), but it would probably be a last resort for me with an overuse/misuse injury such as CTS.

What did work for me was to seriously re-engineer my work area. I set my chair/desk height so that there is a straight line from my elbow to my fingertips -- no wrist bending at all. I use a wrist pad in front of the keyboard now.

I also make it a point to exercise the forearm/hand muscles with something other than typing. Overuse injuries happen when people focus too much on one activity -- runners get shin splints, tennis players get elbow pain, computer users get CTS. It sounds like a bunch of "total wellness" yabber, but a little weightlifting and rock climbing did me a lot of good.

Re:Look for Alternatives (1)

madmaxx (32372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653496)

I would agree, look for alternatives. I know two people who had surgery for CTS, and one of them was unable use their wrists in a normal way for close to 6 months! The other was back up in 6 weeks or so, but both found the experience quite painful.

I use good wrist supports combined with good posture and less than 90hrs/week of typing related work. This has done me well in my 16+ years of programming.

Re:symptoms (1)

Baz Quux (33444) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653500)

IANAD, and IANEAP, but:

If I spend more than just a few minutes at my machine with anything but the correct posture, my wrists and the backs of my hands start to ache. So I just settle down and assume the proper position, which for me is: Sitting up somewhat straight, elbows on the armrests of my desk chair, wrists on a beefy wristpad on the desktop (I use two rolled up bar towels), fingers on the home keys. If my wrists have to tilt up to reach the keys, pain... Typically, it feels much better within moments of adjusting my posture though.

Oddly, unlike a number of other posters, I have no problems with the mouse, except for a couple of times I was randomly surfing for several hours and my hand locked in the shape of the mouse. And the other hand - it was holding a Mountain Dew can, I swear.

Three months (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653501)

It took me three months to get over it. From everything I've heard, I had a mild case. There was never a time I couldn't type, from spasms or whatever. I've got a (better) ergo keyboard now, and I (try to) not pound on the keys. A gentle touch seems to be best for me. YMMV, of course.

Easy Solutions to Carpal Tunnel (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653506)

I don't know if it's real CTS or tendonitis, or what, but my left wrist started aching two or three years ago. Which is a pain in the @#$!, since I'm left handed.

(It's interesting that some people get it in their mouse hand, others in the keyboard hand - I got it in the keyboard hand).

Anyway, first things first - go buy a good keyboard for each machine you use - make the company pay if you can, pay for them yourself if you must.

The good keyboards have two main features: (1) the keyboard is split in half, with each half angled towards that hand. (2) The keyboard is slanted AWAY from your hands instead of towards them. These two features allow your wrists to relax while you type. It will feel odd for the first day or two, then you won't notice it at all - unless you have to use an old fashioned keyboard.

I've used the original MS Natural keyboard - very, very nice - and an Acer keyboard (I'm using right now). I forget the trade name of the Acer, but the model # on the bottom says "ERGO".

The Acer keyboard does have one big problem - it has an integrated touch pad, which I thought would help, but turns out to irritate my wrist. I turned it off.

After you've changed your keyboard, you might want to invest in a wrist splint/wrist brace. Basically, it's a molded metal bar in a glove. You put it on the aching wrist and it braces it. Personally, I discovered that if I'm having an episode of wrist pain, sleeping with the brace on helps tremendously.

I hope this helps!


h&p - and healthy pc tips... (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653511)

I type using the hunt-and-peck method of typing (though I don't hunt, I just peck... peck about 95-105wpm too! :)

Anyway, is it true that typing that way lowers the risk of getting CTS? I know sometimes my wrist would hurt a little and i'd loose strength in my hand, like if I squeezed I couldn't go hard and id feel a weird feeling in my wrist, is that symptoms of CTS? anyway...

Healthy Computer Tips []

$mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;

balancing out wrist stress (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653512)

I went though a bout of wrist pain when I was in high school - they said it was probably CTS (though they didn't do any serious tests, so it could have been something else) and made me lay off typing and guitar playing for a while, and wear these funky braces on my hands when I slept.

I had trouble off and on for a while. My karate training actually helped a bit, as it increased my hand and finger strength. I've also learned some good stretches for the hands and wrists.

But, strange as it may sound, what really helped was moving the mouse to the other side of the keyboard. In the sort of text editing you do in programming, you use your right hand a lot to hit the cursor control keys (arrows, home, page up, etc.) as you move around the code; then you also use that same hand to mouse around. It puts a lot of extra strain on the right vs. the left hand. If you're having trouble primarily on the right side, try mousing left handed (it takes a while to get used to).

Surgery unnecessary... (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653514)

Well, my father got carpal tunnel a while ago. He's a winston-smoking, 10k running, eat-death-for-breakfast kind of guy. He cured it with stress balls and a hand grip exercises, with no surgery. I don't think surgery is always required.

Re: Ignorance... (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653515)

Um...despite a long-standing prejudice of "modern" physicians against such things as chiropractice, chiropractice is and has been accepted as valid by the medical sector for quite a while.

Isn't it amazing how doctors are miraculously synthesizing chemicals which are naturally found in all sorts of places in nature and used by all sorts of cultures? Isn't it amazing how the focus is being shifted from incident-repair to lifestyle? "Natural" therapies have worked for a very long time now...the medical sector is only now wising up. Only now that modern medicine can understand HOW some of these things work, is it actually accepting that they do.

If your body was an engine, "modern" medicine would basically be tearing out broken parts and putting in new ones, using duct tape to fix holes here and their, whereas "natural" practices would attempt to keep the engine in shape in the first place. It's the difference between maintanence and repair.

Disclaimer: There are many quacks of many kinds, including "faith" and "psychic" healers, people selling panacea potions, and medical doctors either through ignorance or greed prescribing the wrong treatment...none of these are valid.

Carpal Tunnel Surgery? (1)

rew2 (55661) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653518)

I've had carpal tunnel syndrome for several years. There are several types of repetitive stress injuries that can hurt your hands and you really have to go to a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Surgery should be a last resort, it can help or it can make things much worse.

The one keyboard I've found that really helps is the Datahand ( It's the strangest of the "alternative keyboards", and takes a couple of weeks to get used to, but it greatly reduces the stretching and finger motion you have to do.

Typing style? (1)

viking099 (70446) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653529)

I've been typing heavily (at least 5-7 hours out of an average day) for close to 5 or 6 years (I'm 21) and I haven't had much of a problem, except for a brief time I tried to teach myself the "home key" typing style (fingers on asdf and jkl;) my wrists hurst constantly for the month or so I tried that. When I went back to the hunt and peck (I like to call it "seek and destroy" typing, everything worked fine... no problems since... specifically, I use my left index finger, and my right forefinger, middle finger, and thumb to type, and sometimes my little finger... This gives me only like a 10% decrease in speed (I max out at 72wpm) and zero pain... anyone have any similar experiences?

Re:Learn Dvorak! (1)

Ender_the_Xenocide (71196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653532)

I started to feel strain on my wrists when I first got a job programming, because after a full 8 hour day of typing I would then go home and keep doing it. Getting a Dvorak at home was enough to make the pain go away, even though I was still using an awful keyboard at work. (It wasn't full-blown carpal tunnel or anything, though.)


carpal tunnel woes (1)

melancholy_dane (74490) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653535)

There's no quick fix here. you need to adjust the way you sit and the way you type to avoid putting too much strain on your wrists. Raise your chair so that your elbows are higher than the keyboard. If your chair isn't adjustable get a new one, because your wrists aren't going to get any better if you have to sit in a bizarre manner. The idea here is not to stretch your wrists, or you'll cause undo burden on them. I use a UNIX workstation without the benefit of 'Natural' keyboards, but I found that sticking a small three-ring binder under the eyboard so that it leaned away from me helped alot. Other than that take some time off and let yourself heal.

Re:"Professional" typists (1)

CausticPuppy (82139) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653540)

I took typing in high school, I hated it at the time.
Nowadays (25 years old) I consider it as one of the most useful classes I've taken.
How does it help to prevent CTS?

1) I can type very fast but I take frequent breaks. As soon as my fingers/wrists get the least bit tired, I stop and stretch. This is much better than typing slowly but non-stop.

2) I learned to use nearly correct posture (OK, I'm still slumped back in my chair) but my wrists are fairly relaxed when I type, and I let my fingers do the work.

I've never had a problem with typing, but I have developed some pains in my wrist from extended mouse-using. This typically happens at work, not while I'm at home playing games for some reason (must be the wrist pad I have at home).
When that happens, I put the mouse on the other side of the keyboard and go lefty for a day, which pretty much solves the problem.


CausticPuppy (82139) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653541)

You don't need to quit drumming!

I type all the time (read my response a couple posts down) and I'm also a drummer.
Actually, I double-majored in percussion (and physics).
The most important thing I learned to prevent overstressing yourself, when typing or when playing, is to stay relaxed. Playing 4-mallet marimba is torture on the tendons, but what kept me from developing any type of repetitive stress problem, even through intensive practice, is frequent breaks.
As far as drums go, if you keep loose and warm up properly (you didn't just sit down and start banging away, did you?) you'll avoid all sorts of problems. You're probably gripping the stick too tight, which wastes energy and will definitely lead to CTS, tendonitis, etc.
I'm pretty sure you can start playing again if you wanted to, but you HAVE TO WARM UP every time. I learned plenty of warm ups and finger/arm stretches from marching in drumline.
Don't give up drums, they're so much fun!
Email me if you want any more advice on that front...

"Professional" typists (1)

wflu (82286) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653542)

I'd be curious to know who among you with and without CTS has ever taken typing in school or a course somewhere. Most of the people around me seem to fall into two catagories: Those who did take typing and now have CTS and those who didn't and don't. Seems to me that the forced positioning of the hands applies too much strain. Just my 2/5ths of a nickel...

"Imagination is the foundation of reality" - Gallagher

Wayne "Flu" Fluharty

Carpal Tunnel and Tendonitis (1)

zebcook (82748) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653543)

Having the joy of suffering from both (very mild carpal, severe flare-ups of tendonitis) for many years now, here's what little I know.

1.) Tendonitis tends to hit the forearm, wrist, thumb and pinky (for me at least) with pain and numbness. When it's really bad it goes up all the way into my shoulder. Not fun. Carpal affects the middle fingers (and thumb). If it's to the outside of the hand, it's probably tendonitis. Inner fingers -- Carpal. Other things that apply to both are weakness of grip and numbness.

2.) There is no quick, easy, or sure cure. I've not had surgery and have managed to avoid it for now. Things that do help:
Find a good massage therapist, usually associated with a chiropractor. If you're lucky, your insurance (if any) will cover visits. If so, take advantage of it. Have them do deep massage work on your arms.

Vitamin E helps some people and reduces flare-ups. Some people say shark cartilage tablets are useful. I've never tried those.

Change your workspace. Get a GOOD chair, fully adjustable, back support, etc. Sit with your feet on the floor (mostly), get your arms and wrists in a natural straight line. Try to get your monitor about eye level. DON'T use those gel tube or padded wrist rests. They encourage you to put pressure on the spot you're trying to relieve pressure from. (Even soft pressure is pressure.)

Get an ergonomic keyboard. The MS one is good, but the best I've used (still use at home) is a Floating Arms keyboard and chair set-up -- splits the keyboard and mounts it on the arms of the chair.

Get up. Get out of your chair a few minutes every hour and stretch. As you sit in your chair, reach to the side and grip the bottom. Stretch to the other side. (Pull and stretch those the tendons in your arm.)

Get a mouse and a trackball. Switch between them every now and then. Both will eventually cause pain, so by switching you're giving relief to one area or another.

Once you got it, it ain't going to go away unless you quit typing. Get used to it.

D. Cook

trackball (1)

Glenn R-P (83561) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653544)

I switched from a mouse to a thumb-operated trackball a couple of months ago and it helped
a lot.

Resource for RSI/CTS sufferers (1)

StrangeAttractor (83590) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653545)

Wired News just had an article [] describing DPI, a non-profit Silicon Valley agency that helps match afflicted programmers with hundreds of technology products that can let you work without destroying your wrists. They range from different keyboards to full Stephen Hawking-type setups.

I second this (1)

billh (85947) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653549)

The weight and travel on the keys of the old IBM AT keyboards are the best I have found. You can pick them up for as little as $5 at used computer places, and they are easy enough to clean up. I have three at home and two at work, and I will use nothing else. Although I still have some severe shoulder pain (mostly from an unrelated injury) when I use the mouse for extended periods, I have no problems with my left wrist. The gel wrist rest helps, also.

Acupuncture (1)

Bantik (89939) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653560)

I've been living with CTS for a few years now. It got to the point where I had numbness in my fingers and shooting pains up to my elbows. I found doctors to be useless.

Acupuncture, however, was a big help. It's almost painless, makes for good anectdotes, and seems to actually work.

Aside from that: Get an ergonomic keyboard for all of your machines. Get a gel-filled mouse wrist rest that you can drop in the freezer before use. Buy some wrist braces and wear them to bed.

Is all this a hassle? Well, it's less a hassle than losing the use of your hands.

Hand pain and typing (1)

blakestah (91866) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653566)

First, I wish you the best in your search for
painless typing. Be aware, however, that many people who experience pain while typing do not
have carpal tunnel, and most of them finally resort to fewer and shorter bouts of typing.

If it feels like your fingers are about to tie themselves in knots - take a break.

Don't rest your wrists on anything. Keep them in the air and force your forearms to do some of the work. Bigger muscle groups are much less susceptible to repetitive stress injuries.

And a last thought to those who may have severe problems. A retraining strategy that focusses on sensory retraining of the hands has a very high efficacy after diligent training for 2-3 months. Many people who thought they would never use their
hands the same way again now can. This therapy was pioneered by Nancy Byl and Mike Merzenich at UCSF.
It supposes that a large portion of the problem is
sensory reorganization during heavily attended heavily repeated motor actions, and the lack of sensory feedback wreaks havoc with motor control.

email me if you are interested in more info.

my aunt has had the surgery 3 times (1)

rachelrein (92188) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653567)

my aunt has had the surgery 3 times
need i say more?

Re:"Professional" typists (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653569)

You are absolutely correct. Almost every case of CT that I've heard of has been from people who learned how to type "correctly." I was fortunate enough to have taught myself. There's a world of difference between my typing style and that of my friends who took typing. One thing is that my hands are always moving when I type. Sometimes a hand will jump to the other side of the keyboard. Might not be the most efficient, but I can still do about 60 words per minute and don't have carpal after 20 years of programming. Second thing, I don't know what this was and never went to a doctor for it, but about 5 years ago I started developping a really sharp pain in the back of my right shoulder. I started to notice that this was VERY mouse related, as I am a righty and it killed me to use a mouse for more than an hour. I finally switched to one of the logitech thumb trackballs and man, what a difference. The pain is only comes back if I'm forced to use a mouse on another computer for extended periods. Just my 2 cents. Pedrito

Re:trackball (1)

jazz73 (96294) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653573)

I switched my mouse to my left-hand .. really helped a lot. If your typing is anything like mine .. you use the "enter" and "backspace" keys a lot .. and using the mouse with the same hand really strains your right hand.

Re:trackball (1)

jazz73 (96294) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653574)

I switched my mouse to my left-hand .. really helped a lot. If your typing is anything like mine .. you use the "enter" and "backspace" keys a lot .. and using the mouse with the same hand really strains your right hand.

Carpal Tunnel Surgery (1)

bfury (96296) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653575)

Carpal Tunnel Surgery is definitely a last resort. I know two people who've had it in the last year and their condition has worsened markedly!

Educate yourself about Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) at:

Change your typing ergonomics. Posture, monitor, keyboard, chair and lighting all effect how much stress you put on your wrists. Be aware of how you're typing!

From my research the two biggest risk factors are:
1. Key pressure: don't be a key banger!
2. Wrist angle: keep the wrists up in a gentle natural curve.

One other thing that can do wonders is taking 1500mg a day of glucosamine sulfate along with 2 grams a day of vitamin C. For more complete info on glucosamine, refer to my article in the June '96 issue of Muscle and Fitness magazine. Take care!


Trak (670) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653593)

i was struck hard with CT about five years back. not only was i spending all day at a keyboard, but i was spending all night behind a drum set. my wrists were taking a beating.

the first thing i did was to quit drumming, cold turkey.

the second thing (and i think the most helpful) was to move all of my mice to the LEFT side of my keyboard (or vice versa depending on your case). not only did this take a major load off of my right wrist, but it also made me ambidextrous in regards to mice (i just love beating somebody's ass at quake and then hearing them say, "why don't you switch mouse hands and give me a chance?").

third was to keep my wrists OFF of the desk. don't rest them on the desk, or even a cushy pad. keep them airborne using your forarms and elbows. this will seem awkward at first, but its very important. to help in the transition, raise the height of your chair.

fourth was to take breaks and do some stretches.

Re:trackball (2)

Suydam (881) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653594)

I did that and it made my thumb hurt and shake when I used it!

Perhaps the best thing any of us could do is to switch pointer devices frequently....that would at least alleviate one wrist...

For me though, the pain is mainly typing-related.

Re:Don't get surgery. (2)

sighup (1594) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653596)

My wife recently had the sugery. We learned quite a bit during the whole ordeal.

While you're correct in that surgery is the last resort, go see a chiropractor. If you wait too long, you risk permanant muscle and nerve damage. My wife put off seeing a chiropractor and ended up with some nerve damage, but the doc said that unless it's major, the nerves will repair themselves. The muscle damage is the big problem, though, as I gathered that that was near impossible to fix without major surgery.

Anyways, go see the chiropractor. Plunk down however much it costs if your insurance won't cover it (ours did) and have a -doctor- look at it. There's all sorts of tests they can run to determine the severity.

Also, the way it generally goes is that they will see how severe the carpal tunnel is, and make treatment recomendations based upon the results. The low end treatment is physical therapy, then cortizone injections, then surgery. Surgery is a last resort, but the carpal tunnel syndrome is highly unlikely to return (my mom had the surgery 25 years ago ans has never had the pain again).

In the end, go see a doctor if you're worried, it's worth it. For a lot of us, our hands are every bit as important to our livelyhood as a doctor's.

An ounce of prevention... (2)

bgdarnel (2144) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653597)

It may be too late for you, but I made my RSI symptoms go away by altering my computer environment and habits:

* Keyboard position matters - The single best thing I did was to get out the toolbox and lower the keyboard drawer on my desk by several inches (it should be just above your knees, so that your forearms are horizontal while typing). Hacking up your desk may not be an option; if not you can also just set the keyboard on your lap.

* Keyboard shape doesn't matter as much - The main thing that the Microsoft Natural and similar keyboards are good for is compensating for poor keyboard positioning. The angled split is good for situations where you must keep the keyboard higher than the optimal position.

* Mice are bad - I can't use a standard mouse for very long at all without some pain in my wrist. I prefer finger-operated trackballs (I have a Logitech Trackman Marble FX. Kensington also has some good trackballs)

* Don't get lazy - just because you have a wrist rest in front of your keyboard doesn't mean you should keep your wrists on it while typing. Your wrists should be straight, which doesn't happen if they're resting on a pad

* Unlearn bad typing habits - (this one I'm still working on) I tend to use the left shift key for everything, whether the shifted character is typed with the left or right hand. This is not a good idea; train yourself to shift with the opposite hand. On a related note, you may want to consider remapping your keyboard - I mapped the key to the left of 'A' (normally capslock) to Control. Some people say the Dvorak keyboard layout is easier on the hands, since more of the typing is done on the home row.


Surgery is *bad* (2)

Pascal Q. Porcupine (4467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653600)

Surgery is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Avoid it at all costs. It doesn't treat the problem, it only makes the symptoms go away for a while, and then they just come back even worse. The best thing you can do is take a month off from using the computer. Failing that, use it strictly in moderation and either stop touch-typing (hunt-and-peck instead) or get an ultra-ergonomic keyboard such as the Datahand [] if you can afford it (the Datahand is about $1000, but there's others such as the Kinesis ErgoFlex which aren't as ergonomic but are "only" $250 or so). Also, get some of those wrist-braces to immobilize your wrists while you type, and try a topical anti-inflammatory cream such as Aspercreme. (I've been through CTS a few times, and know how to make it go away for the time being using non-surgical means.)

But avoid surgery at all costs. It doesn't do anything regarding the inflammation of the tendons; it only removes the pressure from the nerve (read: it numbs it), and then you just start typing again and get your tendons even more inflammed but you have even less feeling in your wrists, so when the pain comes back it's even more persistent and thus the vicious cycle continues.

Again, the best thing to do is to take as much time off from the computer as possible. I know that's difficult in this day and age. So just type as slow as you can (I know it's frustrating) in short periods of time. If you get any pain, STOP NOW and take a nice long break. If your employer can't understand this, then it's time to go through the process of getting worker's compensation and/or quitting (I recently did the latter, though a flare-up in my wrists was only the most recent of several reasons I wanted to leave).

But as has been mentioned several times here, there is no quick fix. Don't delude yourself into thinking there might be one.

That said, you might want to ask your doctor about steroid injections. Apparently they do have some success in removing inflammation for a few months at a time. However, it's such a recent treatment that I wouldn't trust it for the long-term (after all, damage will still be done to the tendons when you type, particularly since you won't feel any pain telling you to stop).
"'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

Re:Carpal Tunnel (2)

Pascal Q. Porcupine (4467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653601)

Your fingers should never straighten fully when in the relaxed position. Your hands should form somewhat of a 'cup' when completely relaxed; that is the neutral position.

Fingers hurting all the time is more likely arthritis than CTS. Stop cracking your knuckles.

Sore wrists, however, are most likely carpal tunnel related, though there can be other causes as well. See a doctor, man.
"'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

Re:I have CTS (2)

lnevo (10937) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653603)

I had the same thing, I'm also 23. Its kinda scary not being able to type. I bought some cheap ergo-split keyboard, and it started to help. Then at work I got another one that was similar. It seems to have helped tremendously. That and doing wrist excercises has definitely helped.

symptoms (2)

UM_Maverick (16890) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653606)

Is there a doctor out there (or anyone, for that matter) who can describe the symptoms of CTS? My left wrist has been hurting for a while, but my doc says it's just tendonitis...What are the differences?

Surgery is a Temporary solution :( (2)

TFloore (27278) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653609)

Bear in mind, I am not a doctor, so take this as uninformed advice. I looked into this once (my wrists are beginning to get to me too) and came to an interesting conclusion.

The surgery is really only a temporary solution. It will help, but will bring permanent relief only if you change your habits to remove whatever caused your CTS in the first place. For this group, this generally means give up computers, or at least cut _way_ back on using them. (Or finding a fully-functional voice recognition package, good luck.)

I doubt you like this answer any more than I did.


Re:I have CTS (2)

smillie (30605) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653612)

I had the problem also and it corrected itself when I started using a ergonomic keyboard. If you get an ergonomic be sure to read the instructions since it's not intuitive how they are best used.

Don't get surgery. (2)

Skratch (39859) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653614)

Surgery should be a last resort, it will cause a bunch of scar tissue to form and it doesn't always solve the problem. Try looking for a Chiropractor, not a wussie one, the kind that actually adjusts his patients. I used to go to one, and he had a couple machines specifically for carpal tunnel. Also, try to look for a doctor that graduated from Palmer, it's like the Harvard/Yale for Chiropractic. Oh yeah, an excercise you can do, is put a rubber band around your hand (kind of like on your fingernails) and keep opening and closing your hand. It counteracts the motion that normally causes carpal tunnel (the tightening down of the hand). By the way, I'm no doctor, so talk to a doctor and talk to a chiropracter, then decide which is best...

Four suggestions (2)

georgeha (43752) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653616)

1) I switched from a mouse to trackball, this helped a lot.

2) I ordered a pair of lycra gloves (at the time it was from Mega-Tex [] , but now you have go to Handware. They seemed to help a lot.

3) Position your mouse/trackball and keyboard to minimize stress.

4) Stop chatting, or change your chatting habits. My wrists hurt the most when I chat the most, so I use voice recognition software to chat now, though it does get embarassing in those intimate chats.


Old Style MS Natural Keyboards (2)

TheSnakeMan (59408) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653620)

The old MS Natural Keyboards were the best thing to ever come out of Redmond. The bar in the front which elevates the front of the keyboard was the greatest idea, I have one, I have always used that bar.

But alas, a couple months ago I started a new job, and I wanted a Natural Keyboard, and the only ones that you can buy anymore are the Elite models, which are the new ones with the slightly (very slightly) smaller footprint, but with a bunch of keys cut in half. No longer are the function keys actually usable. Escape, heck, they certainly didn't have emacs in mind when designing this keyboard. Not only that, but they actually rearranged the home/end/delete/page up/page down/insert keys. They rotated them 90 degrees, too! Certainly not a gaming keyboard, they cut the arrow keys in half and arranged them in a plus sign format instead of the standard T shape.

All of these things could be overlooked. This is at work, so I'm not gaming, and I've adjusted to the size and placement of the keys anyway. The thing that is absolutely intolerable about this keyboard is that there is no bar in the front anymore. They actually put props on the back of the keyboard instead! Now it's just like any other keyboard on the market. Don't waste your money on this piece of shit. I actually have a 2 inch book underneath it, propping it up off the desk.

So the one good thing that has ever come out of MS was corrupted on the second iteration.

There's probably an underground market for the old style keyboards, I don't know anyone who has liked the new one once they have switched.

They're putting dimes in the hole in my head to see the change in me.

My Neighbor Said... (2)

Tassleman (66753) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653621)

My neighbor was a mechanic for probably 20+ years, and he got CTS from wrenching all day long. When they did the CTS surgery on him he said that it was mostly fairly painless, the only things about it he didn't like was that:

A) He couldn't use his hands very much for almost 3 weeks afterwards - his doctor recommended an extended healing time in his case.
B) During the surgery they actually sliced open his lower arms and used a scalpel to dig out all of what he called the "Carpal Tunnel Junk" that collects in your arms.

All I know is that it sounds like a great operation, and since I have recently started showing signs myself, I got a trackball and a Microsoft Natural Keyboard (Hey - they're actually really nice if you can find an older style one with the full size arrow keys) I have been feeling a lot better.

Re:symptoms (2)

Jean-Pierre (81373) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653624)

I've heard that the tendons that connect your wrist to your fingers (running up the back side of your hand) become very sore, strained and stick out. I know I have had this a few times and dismissed it due to the weird angle I have been typing at.

Alternative to Surgery? (2)

knife_in_winter (85888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653625)

Sorry, I cannot really give you a recovery time. However, I think you might be able to avoid surgery. I don't know the details and circumstances of your condition (and I am not a doctor); but I think that while carpal tunnel syndrome is not an invention of doctors, your need for surgery might be. Is that the case, or is surgery your idea? Have you gotten second, third opinions?

I know a number of people who do have carpal tunnel to varying degrees, one of whom is my mother. I am fairly certain that my mom's doctor never suggested surgery as a cure. Rather, he suggested a regimen of exercises designed to strengthen and condition the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the hand, wrist and forearms.

I have been coding for a couple years now and am fairly young, so maybe I am not yet displaying symptoms of CTS. However, I like to think that my chances of getting it are greatly decreased because of my activities as a rock climber.

From what I understand, CTS is caused by constant, repetitive stress on the bones and muscles of your hand, wrist and forearm. Your body does not like constant repetitive stress. However, the human body, being the incredible machine that it is, does like a variety of stresses. Ever notice how runners tend to have crappy knees after a number of years of running? Same thing. People who cross train tend to have stronger, healtier bodies on the whole. Frankly, cross training and weight training bore the hell out of me, so I like to mountain bike and rock climb.

Anyway, the idea is to help your body by cross-training your hands, wrist and forearms. Get some Chinese excercise balls. Or a high resistance stress ball. There is a device ( I don't remember what it is called ) that uses an internal gyroscope powered by torque provided by your wrist that resists your wrist's attempt to provide more torque. It's a great lower arm workout. The faster you torque it, the harder it gets to hold on to.

So that's my suggestion. Look into it. Consult other physicians. I think spending the time and a few dollars on conditioning your arms would be a lot better than a couple thousand dollars on surgery.

Nothing can possiblai go wrong. Er...possibly go wrong.
Strange, that's the first thing that's ever gone wrong.

Re:trackball (3)

scrytch (9198) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653627)

Tip when using a thumb trackball: don't use your thumb. At least not all the time. You should be able to sorta glide all your fingers over it if you don't mash your hand down on it, which is worse to your wrists than using a mouse, which at least gives you lateral movement. Move the trackball close to you so you don't feel like you're reaching out to use it. It should feel like your hand just drops on the trackball, you should neither have to reach out for it nor mash your hand down on it.

As for your mouse, similar advice. Keep the heel of your hand off the thing and control it with your thumb and little finger. A light mouse with a slim profile helps, which pretty much rules out a MS Mouse. Of course I have huge hands so this is easy for me to do. But a light touch is the key. Now i just need to make better keymaps to rid myself of emacs pinky (no i will not use vi)

CTS, My experience (and solution!) (3)

humphrm (18130) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653628)

I was diagnosed with CTS a LONG time before it was fashionable, and even before I got into a keyboard-centric career. It was in high school, and periodically I would experience numbness in my fingers and that sensation of my hands falling asleep. My doctor (back in the late '70's) gave me a list of things to try before falling back on surgury...

1. While keyboard work can complicate CTS, it's not *neccessarily* a direct cause. I've lived with CTS a LONG time, asymptomatic, by being careful. I use those geeky pads that sit at the bottom of your keyboard to help boost my hands up a bit, and that seems to do the trick for me.

2. Driving (a lot of driving) is actually harder on your carpal tunnel than keyboard work. Resting your wrists on the steering wheel is very bad for CTS. Again, I know it sounds stupid, but use the old "10 O'Clock and 2 O'Clock" steering wheel holding method, and you'll reduce the stress on your wrists. This is a technique where one actually HOLDS the steering wheel (yes, with your hands!) at a comfortable distance. When you sit down in your car and grab the steering wheel, note how close you are to the wheel and how "bent" your wrists are in order to hold the wheel. Try to straiten your wrists as much as possible.

3. Develop good habits where you keep your wrists as strait as possible, when writing typing or driving. Extreme and extended bending of the wrists aggravates CTS.

4. Finally, try getting wrists splints and sleep with them on. I did this for about six months, it's not something you have to do the rest of your life -- just until your symptoms go away.

For me, the CTS got worse when I was a Domino's Pizza driver (back in the early '80's) than anytime later when I actually worked at a keyboard. Changing my driving habits and using the wrist splints at night virtually eliminated my CTS symptoms. I still have to be careful, but I don't have to live with the symptoms every day.

My mother is a data control type person (operator) who had it much worse and ended up getting the surgury. She could barely drive for six months and it took years for her to recover her full wrist strength. She had the surgury in the heydays of the '80s "fix it with drugs or surgury" phenominon. She later confessed that she wished her doctor had recommended other threatments first rather than just going strait under the knife.

Standard Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. Before persuing a treatment plan, you should consult with your physician. Etc. Etc.

Learn Dvorak! (3)

Quigley (18976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653629)

I heard all kinds of good things about it so I made the switch about a year ago. I don't have CTS or any other disorder despite my heavy use of computers since about 2nd grade, and I decided I'd like to stave it off as long as possible. I also bought myself a MS Natural Keyboard Elite. I recommend it over the regular one, the keys are MUCH easier to press. And the 6 is on the right instead of the left side. ;)

Once I made the switch, I definitely noticed much less hand fatigure after a full day of typing. Somewhere (check out the dvorak links) I remember reading on an average typists' day, using the QWERTY keyboard, your fingers will travel about 7 miles as compared to DVORAK which measures in around 2. Enough to make me switch. Besides I type 20-30 wpm faster (average) now too, and I can easily measure over 100wpm if I try :)

Introducing the Dvorak Keyboard []

A Basic Course in Dvorak []

I switched in approximately a month, though I had a tough time because I couldn't completely wean myself from QWERTY (had to use other computers, etc). I hear if you switch cold turkey it goes much faster.

Finally, I only used resources I found on the web. Didn't cost me a penny :)

there is no easy fix (4)

jilles (20976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653633)

"I always thought that carpal tunnel syndrome was mostly invented by doctors -- until I started showing symptoms myself. I'm almost convinced of the need for surgery -- is there anyone else out there who has had this done? If so, what sort of recovery time did you have before you were reasonably self-sufficient again?"
Have you thought of changing the way you do your work. Most likely it caused yoour pain in the first place. any solution for it will have to include changing that. If you don't it is likely your wrists will get worse and that they will be permanently dammaged.

From what you wrote I gather that you are looking for an easy fix in the form of an operation in order to continue working the way you have always done. As far as I know there are no easy fixes. If you go to a doctor he will only do the obvious, that is try to prevent you from further damage your wrists rather than cutting them open rearrange some stuff and declaring you cured.

If you are a programmer (what i suspect) and are planning to spend the rest of your life programming, you might want to start considering that your wrists won't go all the way. I.e. start thinking about ways of reducing the amount of typing you have to do for your work.

Re:symptoms (4)

Petethelate (96300) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653635)

I've been programming for about 25 years (at least, getting paid for it that long) and have had tendinitis/carpal/medial/ulnar nerve problems off and on for several years.

Soreness (horribly so) is generally a sign of tendinitis, but it's when fingers start to go numb, or tingle, that's when one of the tunnels are getting too crowded. I've had a few rounds of therapy, but the one that has helped the most has been re-learning how to type. My therapist/teacher was a pianist who had CTS and had to relearn, then discovered she could make a fair living helping geeks and nerds.

The basic method is described in _The Hand Book_ ISBN 1-884388-01-9, but the short summary is to use the largest muscles to do the job that you can. The catchphrase is to use hands "as paws, not claws". Your hands should be moving all over the keyboard, with the fingertips only moving up and down. I find it tough to do all the time, but it's usually OK.

I've had nerve damage (the mylograph method of determining this is one of the more uncomfortable methods of medical torture), but it's holding steady.

As far as equipment is concerned, some things will help, but bad technique is stronger than bad equipment. I have a few old pointing devices that didn't make the cut....

What has worked: The Microsoft "Classic" natural keyboard--have one at home and another at work on my workstation, as well as one of the smaller "elite" ones on a barely used computer at home. I find the Contour Mouse to be the best bet for me, mostly because I have really large hands and most desk rodents are too tiny. (The HP mice on workstations are horrible.) The backup computer has a Microsoft mouse--it's tolerable for a while. Other computers at work use standard keyboards and mice, and I get by.

BTW, going to voice recognition software can lead to a strained set of vocal cords. I was thinking of foot-rodents until I figured out that I'd be trading wrist problems for ankle problems....

Bottom line: surgery works, but there's a lot you can do before it comes necessary. My aunt lives in the wilds of southern Michigan and had to have both wrists done simultaneously. She said it was, er, interesting.

Pete (got no sig worth noting)

Some useful links (5)

Hasdi Hashim (17383) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653636)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Home Page

A Patient's Guide to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome []

My advise is to use Microsoft Keyboard and/or Microsoft Mouse. They may make a lame OS but they sure know how to design good hardware.


Re:Learn Dvorak! (but be careful) (5)

Scurrilous Knave (66691) | more than 14 years ago | (#1653637)

I had only minimal wrist and hand symptoms until earlier this year. I decided to switch to a Dvorak keyboard layout to, as the previous message says, "stave off" further deterioration.

Now, unfortunately, I have noticeable numbness in the outer pair of fingers on both hands. It started soon after I started using the Dvorak layout full-time, and intensified steadily over the next couple of months.

However! Do not run away yet. My wrist pain has stopped almost entirely, and the numbness has now begun to decrease slowly but steadily. Why the strangeness? Well, as near as I can tell, because I had been typing for so long on the QWERTY layout, I didn't have to keep my fingers on the home row--my hands sorta "floated" over the keyboard, and my motion was loose and easy. But in the time it took me to become really proficient with the Dvorak layout (and I am still not quite back to my original speed yet, but close) I kept my fingers glued to the home row like attentive schoolchildren. And my hands were tense, as were my forearms.

But now I'm loosening up, and it appears that I'll wind up better off than I was before. So yes, by all means try the Dvorak layout. Just know that it works better (and faster) for some people than for others. Be aware, not scared.

And please, do what these other folks are telling you--get away from the keyboard and do something totally unlike typing for a while each day. Like masturbating. Or rock climbing. Or whatever.

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