The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Ouch, Again.

Anybody know an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome? Because mine is flaring up again. I’ve got all the symptoms.

  • Numbness or pain in your hand, forearm, or wrist that awakens you at night. (Shaking or moving your fingers may ease this numbness and pain.)
  • Occasional tingling, numbness, “pins-and-needles” sensation, or pain. The feeling is similar to your hand “falling asleep.”
  • Numbness or pain that worsens while using your hand or wrist, especially when gripping an object with your hand or bending (flexing) your wrist.
  • Occasional aching pain in your forearm between your elbow and wrist.
  • Stiffness in your fingers when you get up in the morning.

Well, it doesn’t wake me up at night, but the stiffness or numbness and tingling is is definitely there, and shaking my hand is becoming a habit. Picking stuff up is definitely getting to be a problem. When I pick Parker up lately, I tend to favor my left arm over my right (because that’s attached to my dominant hand, which is also used for mouse-clicking). And there’s definitely pain between my elbow and wrist more often these days.

This has happened before, and has gotten worse recently. So, it may be time to see a doctor. In the meantime, I’m going to restrict my computer use to work-related stuff and email for the next couple of days. That means little to no blogging (in part because the kind of blogging I do lately ends up requiring a lot of googling and a lot of writing), despite the frustrating fact that there’s a hot political story unfolding, and some other stuff I want to cover.

I’ve got a couple of posts in the hopper, so if I absolutely can’t resist, I may just cut back to one post a day. Alas, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So, If you don’t see any action around here for a couple of days, you’ll know why.


  1. you’re getting old 🙂

  2. you may want to try using a hand or wrist brace (available at a local drugstore). i had a similar condition a couple of years ago and after using a brace for about two weeks, the condition cleared. not sure if i had carpal tunnel or just a strain, but i still have the brace in case it returns. PEACE!

  3. here’s a few things that might help you short of surgery.

    i sleep with hard wrist braces every night. it gives my hands a 6-8 hr rest in the right position and doesn’t interfere with activity like wearing them during the day.

    when the pain gets too bad after a prolonged bout of mousing or typing or whatever activity irritates the carpal tunnel, ice followed by heat will help. ice the hand and wrist (from about mid-forearm down) as long as you can stand it. i stick them in buckets of iced water. then a warm parafin treatment or a lightly warm heating pad. not too hot, you don’t want to swell the tissues by drawing too much blood to the area.

    to keep it from getting irritated in the first place, get yourself some good ergonomic computing devices. try out different mice & keyboards until you find the one that fits best. likewise with wrist rests. a friend watching me mouse said he’d never seen anyone do it like me. i turn sideways to my desk and rest my entire arm on the desk, my wrist on the crescent shaped gel pad, and lightly grip the ergonomic mouse. i use a split keyboard. both are wireless so i can shift positions easily when i tire of one.

    ultimately i did have to have surgery on my right wrist about 4 yrs ago. i’ll probably need it on the left & then again on the right in a few years again. it isn’t a difficult surgery. the recouperation is fast and the relief almost immediate. my right probably wouldn’t need redoing except i’m a computer junkie, especially for things that use a lot of intensive mouseing.

    hope this helps.

  4. Wrist brace. Wear it overnight, at least; I wear it at night and at the computer when I’m having acute problems. I also have a fantastic acupuncturist who will ease it.

    Both of these are temporary fixes, though – the real things to do is fix your ergonomics. Move yourself higher above your keyboard/mouse. Another quick fix is to move the keyboard right to the edge of the desk, so that you can’t rest your wrists down on the desk below it.

  5. The mouse presents a physically damaging arrangement of the wrist bones jamming up against the small bones in the hand (metacarpals?). I use a graphic tablet and pen for all my computer use. It is an extraordinarily kinder position for the arm and hand. And I can personally testify that I can go about 20 hours before it hurts my wrist a bit, while a mouse will do it in a third of that time.

  6. I wasn’t clear on that mouse arrangement, but if one just tests the overall mobility of the hand in “mouse” position vs that of holding a pen as one usually does, you’ll see what I mean. At least this is my experience.

  7. Try Goody Powders! Take one and put it in your Diet Coke. You will feel better.

  8. (I only just hopped over here via Lauren’s blog)

    Definitely see a doctor – a specialist in RSI, if you can. I wouldn’t trust a general practitioner to get the diagnosis right. It might not be carpal tunnel (which is really pretty uncommon); it might be tendonitis, or thoracic outlet syndrome (also a nerve problem, like carpal tunnel, but near the shoulder-neck connection), or something else.

    Ergonomics do make a huge difference, regardless of the specifics of the problem. I started using a writing tablet (a Wacom Graphire) instead of a mouse, which made the biggest difference for me, even more so than adjusting my keyboard. But it’s probably going to be different for everyone (and I can overdo it with the tablet, too).

    Stretching helps, and don’t forget your upper back and neck – sometimes the problem stems from something out of whack up there, not down in the arm. I’ve found that yoga helps a lot (in addition to frequent stretching during the day).

    Taking breaks is also key – there are various free software things out there that’ll give you a reminder and a stretch to do.

    I – and other people I know who’ve had RSIs – also know that stress in general can trigger pain/flareups.

    A couple books I found useful were _It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!_ by Damany and Bellis (though if the dr. says you do have carpal tunnel, forget that one), and _Repetitive Strain Injury: A Computer User’s Guide_ by Pascarelli (who now has a newer book out). Oh, and especially _The Mindbody Prescription_ by Sarno.