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For the Love of Your Hands…

I just posted this as a way too long comment over on Mel’s site, but it is worth repeating here. Mel was just told she has Carpal Tunnel, but she doesn’t want to miss a lot of work having the surgery. I know I was offline for 2 weeks when I had my hand surgery back in December, but part of that was by choice, and part of that was because I actually had two procedures done at the same time – the one for Carpal Tunnel and the one for DeQuarvein’s Syndrome – something I would never recommend. (I found out later that the doctor also doesn’t normally recommend it, but we were dealing with a short holiday break so we did it that way. Big mistake.) The surgery on my thumb had it immobile for two weeks. I basically had a cast that covered my thumb and rendered my right hand pretty useless. That said, the carpal tunnel portion of the surgery wasn’t bad at all. By day 2, I was moving my fingers. Day 3, I was able to type somewhat, although not much without a thumb, so I just stayed offline.

Your hands are SO important to you – why would you want to mess with the health of your hands? I just talked about this on my latest podcast because it matters so much to me. Take good care of your hands!

If you have been told you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, here is my advice (slightly edited from the original comment left on Mel’s site):

– ICE. You don’t need heat. Just ice. My hand surgeon and my hand therapist both said the ice is what does the trick; heat just feels good. (I realize different therapists have different views on this, but from personal experience only ice helps.)

– Sleep with the wrist splints on. You may feel stupid, but I don’t care. You want to take care of your hands, right?

– Drive a standard? Wear the splints then too. Probably a good idea no matter what you drive.

– Splints during the day also a good idea. You’ll get used to them. I knit with them on. You can do it.

– The carpal tunnel only surgery has a initial recovery time of less than a week. My Mom had it in February – without the thumb surgery – and she was on the computer two days after her surgery. My surgeon had told me that he frequently has people do the surgery on a Thursday, take Friday off and return to Monday.

– Once you have carpal tunnel syndrome, it NEVER goes away. The symptoms may get better, but it doesn’t go away. Ignore it and skip having the surgery and you can end up like me with some permanent nerve damage. I have a crappy tingle feeling in my right hand all the time, and a special spot that I can touch that sends fireworks through my hand. I would recommend nerve testing to determine the level of carpal tunnel that you have, and also trying the cortisone shots first. But if you are at the point where surgery is recommended – do it.

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Almost 3 months later, I have no numbness. No tingling. Nothing. My right hand feels so good, I am considering having the surgery on my left hand this summer. (It only goes numb 1-2 times a week, so we’re not at the severe point my right hand was at with constant pain. Yet.)

Sorry to go on and on, but the health of your hands is so important. You use them to work. To craft. To create. You depend on them. You would have a hard time being on the computer right now if you had problems with your hands. Do you really want that? Don’t screw with them just because you don’t want to be off work for a few days or you don’t want to pay for surgery. Take care of your hands.

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

11 replies on “For the Love of Your Hands…”

Thank you for a wonderful post. Dealing with medical stuff is very very scary, but ignoring it is never an answer. Let’s face it, none of us wants to have medical problems, but the best thing to do is accept what you are dealt and do what ever you can to solve the problem. As someone who’s had diabetes since I was 12, believe me when I tell you denial is easy, but acceptance is so much healthier. The surgeries and treatments really are a blessing, we are so lucky to have the resources to make ourselves healthy.

I wish we could have discussed this before you went under the knife.

I had the opportunity to work with some nice folks out of Rhinebeck, New York last year who have developed a product specifically for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome called Topricin. I fortunately don’t suffer from this debilitating monster, but the founder of the company does.

Lou Paradise developed a unique “all natural” product out of need. He has a severe case of CTS along with the MRI’s to prove it. You wouldn’t know it from the power of his grip (great handshake Lou).

If you had an option that could heal the damage would you still recommend surgery?

Here’s a strange little piece to this; The product is highly recommended by physicians as a post operative healing topical.

You might want to have a look into Topricin ( or call Lou directly. These are good people with a sincere message about this horrible ailment.

I am glad to here your right hand is doing better. Try this before you cut into your left.

Thanks for the input. I am scheduled for surgery on March 22, 2006 for my right hand. After recovery I will be having surgery on my left hand. Both recommended by the doctor. I am anxious to get back to normal again.

While I’m all for a topical product that might help people out, I am still skeptical. Then again, I was initially diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel back in 1990. This is something I battled for years, and I only “gave in” to the surgery when it became so bad I couldn’t take the pain.

I had minimal post-op pain from the CTS portion of my surgery. I was going to say “none” but that isn’t true, obviously. It was surgery after all. But the worst part was the itching a few days after surgery. Ugh! I hate to itch.

I would possibly consider trying a topical on my left hand, only because it isn’t that bad. I would still have my doubts though until I was proved wrong. (I’m willing to say I could be proved wrong – that is a start, right?)

I just got off the phone with my doctor because the major difference in the recovery time is a huge factor for me. I hear the few days from you and a few other people and then I’ve heard the 6-12 weeks from other people.

My doctor said that I would be completely out of work for AT LEAST one month. I told him that I had gotten some different information about the recovery period and he told me that there are different procedures and each one has a different recovery time. The Open Release Surgery that he recommends would have me out of commission for at least the one month period of time.

Which CTS surgery did you have?

Wow! A month? That is crazy! The longest I ever knew someone to take off of work for was a week and a half, and I think she just did it because she could – she had sick time to burn up before the end of the year. Everyone else I’ve known has said the same thing my doctor said – back to work within days. (He told me to do the procedure on a Thursday and I would be back to class by Monday, until we added the thumb procedure.)

I don’t know which type of procedure my Mom & I had. I’ll call the office tomorrow or Friday and see if they can tell me.

thanks Christine.

I’ve heard a month, “at the least”. My brother was out 6 weeks. My mailcarrier was out for 12 weeks! My doctor said a minimum of one month. Crazy differences, right?

Thanks for calling and finding out for me. I appreciate it!

I’ve been experiencing tendonitis in my shoulder and ankle for a couple of months, and I was very skeptical about the application of ice instead of heat. But I started to try it, and I was really surprised how effective it was after twenty or thirty minutes. Now I just need to get a few extra gel packs so I can apply them all at once instead of this bizarre use-refreeze-use cycle. 🙂

I had open carpal tunnel release surgery on Feb. 24th which is the more invasive type compared to the laparoscopic type. I had a soft cast post-op dressing on my hand/wrist for 6 days and was back to doing my usual daily activities and on the computer the day I got the cast off and stitches out–probably would have been sooner but the cast prevented it! 🙂 My surgeon wanted me to use my hand as much as tolerated and wear my brace when needed and for sleeping. My palm is still quite tender 3 weeks post-op and there is some scar tissue under the incision site but should resolve with massaging. I can’t imagine that you would need to be out for weeks or months??? Maybe depends on the type of work you do; however, I do transcription on the computer and like I said, was back typing the next week. I have no carpal tunnel pain/numbness now whatsoever! I hope your surgery goes well if and when you decide to do it.

Great post, it provides a lot of information about carpal tunnel syndrome. Coming from your own experienced is a big factor to consider as a proven cure. Those who work a lot on the computer are those who are very prone for carpal tunnel, ask for advice or tips to avoid it, a nice hand massage every after work would help.

One of the best things that you can do is to alter your position from time to time by taking a 20 minute break. Whenever you can take a break and give that muscle a rest for a bit, the better off you are going to be. Sometimes all you need is to do some light exercise with the muscle that is affected.

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