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Thread: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Quilting

  1. #1
    Junior Member roseville rose's Avatar
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    Anybody have trouble with CTS and quilting. I am having a terrible time and wonder if anybody has any suggestions (short of surgery).

  2. #2
    Power Poster SulaBug's Avatar
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    I have never had that trouble, but I do
    have arthritus in my wrists & fingers.
    That is painful, too. I hope you can get
    some relief soon!! Take care.

  3. #3
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    I have to admit I don't know much about carpal tunnel syndrome.
    I have fibromyalgia, and I get sharp pains in my right elbow that run down the forearm into my hand. I didn't start doing that until about a year ago, I think, and have wondered what the symptoms of carpel t. are?

  4. #4
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    :( Been there :( Use your braces, there are so many different ones that I think I still have 3 or 4. the one that is like a foam sleeve with laces is the one that helped me most during sewing. But, I still had to have surgery on both hands........It has been several years, and yes, I still have some problems, but that was because I waited so long that so much damage was not repairable.

    I have fibromyalgia and arthritis, too. So the triple threat makes even typing in the forum difficult.

    Good luck, but I would get a good hand surgeon and go for it. :|

  5. #5
    QuiltyLisa's Avatar
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    I had CTS surgery 5 years ago not long after I broke my wrist. the braces never really worked for me since I was doing repetitive work 8-10 hours a day.That was the only thing that fixed it for me. I use a computer mouse and keyboard all day and by the time I got home cold not even think of quilting I was in so much pain. Had to have the surgery due to the CTS making my work too too painful. best thing I have ever done was the surgery.

    I tried paraffin soaks and lots off different pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds.
    But nothing except the surgery worked. Sorry I am not much help.

  6. #6
    Super Member canmitch1971's Avatar
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    I have had CTS of my right hand but it started before I started quilting. I have had surgery on it twice. The first time did not work so I went to another doctor and he did a fine job. My left hand has it slightly too but not bad enough for surgery.

  7. #7
    Jerrie's Avatar
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    I have CT S i had surgery on my right and he want to do the left but i am waiting now i have it back in my right hand again i wear the ace glove on my hands. But it don't help. i massage them often to get the cirulation going. maybe someone else might have a idea. I am doing a redwork portriat quilt of the family and my hands cramps up

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    There was a thread about this recently in which I posted my successful results in overcoming CTS. Here is a link to that thread:

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/posts/list/20317.page

    CTS is an inflammation, so anything you can do to eliminate that inflammation before scarring takes place is helpful. I cut way down on my typing, wore braces day and night (including when typing), and took a high dose of citrus bioflavanoids twice a day.

    Repetitive motion is what causes CTS, so it's important to eliminate as much as possible the repetitive motion that brought on the inflammation. Braces keep the wrist in a neutral position, reducing pressure on the nerve and giving the carpal tunnel a chance to heal.

  9. #9
    Super Member redquilter's Avatar
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    Believe it or not, yoga helps. I go to a few classes a week, but if that's not for you - look for some yoga hand exercises or I can try and describe a few for you. Mine is much improved since doing yoga.

  10. #10
    Junior Member roseville rose's Avatar
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    I am willing to try anything except surgery since it only has a success rate of about 50%. I would appreciate any exercises or books on yoga to help--thanks so much. I do not want to give up my passion of quilting.

  11. #11
    Senior Member quiltswithdogs's Avatar
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    Don't forget frequent rest periods. Every 15-30 min stop typing or sewing. Try the things below...

    For circulation and to release pressure on the pinched nerve:
    ---open and bend your hand back (opposite of a fist),
    ---massage your whole forearm too
    ---flap your hands... hard

    For swelling, even if not visible and pain:
    ---apply ice packs or even that icy (forget names) spray
    ---anti-inflammatories like Advil or Motrin

    Even if you don't want braces when awake, wear them when you sleep; You have no idea how much you curl up your hand to wrist. That nighttime bracing and the above may be all you need... at least try!

    I have rheumatoid arthritis, not carpal tunnel syndrome, but I studied up on it when my violinist daughter was 14. Every week, she was taking lessons and practicing, playing in the school orchestra, playing in our county's Jr Symphony, enrolled in a college class for String Quartets, and playing in various other activities like community theater. She loved it dearly and still does 15yrs later. But that was hard on her little growing wrists. We learned a lot, she rearranged her techniques and eventually got over it without surgery. Her hand specialist even went out of his way to find consults of drs helping other musicians, though none had children patients. It was quite an ordeal. But if she could overcome it, so can you. If after giving everything else a good try, you need surgery, just do it and feel better.

  12. #12
    Super Member sewjoyce's Avatar
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    I had CTS surgery years ago in my left wrist. Still have occasional pain with it (like overdoing the keyboard or hand work). So I just wear my brace at night until it feels better. But surgery is probably your best bet...


  13. #13
    Super Member redquilter's Avatar
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    One movement in yoga is just what quiltswithdogs said - open and bend your hand back - first do each finger (gently but firmly), then do whole hand. (do both hands) The idea is to stretch the muscles in the opposite direction from what they are used to. I'm not sure I like the idea of flapping the hands hard - I think it's too stressful - but that's just my opinion.

    Put both hands flat on the wall at arms length and press into the wall. (again - the idea is to stretch the muscles in the opposite direction).

    Put your hands in front of you in a prayer position - then put finger to finger and press into each other.

    When you sit at the table, put your forearms flat on the table, then lift only your hands and raise them back as far as they can go - feel the stretch.

    I will go through my yoga books and photocopy poses that I think might help and I'll send them to you. They're not only good for your CTS, but for your back, legs, arms. In the meantime - do the above several times a day. I do a lot of knitting/crocheting and wear a glove. It's fingerless and kind of stretchy so it fits snugly - idea being to keep the wrist warm and give slight support while still being able to do needlework. I forget where I got them, but maybe Clothilde or a needlework place such as Herschnerrs or Annie's Attic.

    I don't blame you for not wanting surgery. I've heard some that went well and some that didn't. I'll avoid it at all costs myself.

  14. #14
    Junior Member roseville rose's Avatar
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    Thank you sooooooo much for the suggestions---I will start practicing now. I am a nurse also and have seen the unsuccessful surgical treatments of CTS. In the end, I may end up with surgery but not until I have tried altlernative treatments.

  15. #15
    Junior Member sandiphi's Avatar
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    I had CTS surgery on my left hand and boy let me tell you. What a relief that was. I still get pains in my elbows but that's because I sleep with my arms bent up. My right hand is has slight CT but not enough to have the surgery. I wore a brace on my left hand while sleeping and it helped but it didn't make it go away completely because I am on a computer all day and I do a lot of sewing.

    Good luck, I hope the non-surgery recommendations work for you.

    Sandi

  16. #16
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I'm dealing with tendinitis all the way to the elbow on both arms and it can make cutting quite painful. That is tough to do with the braces on. I take breaks when I have flair ups, nibble on Naproxyn, ice my arms, and hope for the best. I also get regular adjustments from my Chiropractor which seems to help.

  17. #17
    Senior Member quiltswithdogs's Avatar
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    Do try the stretch of open hand, fingers back, throughout the day. The point is to release that pressure on the nerve. That's the purpose of a brace too.
    Also, I forgot to tell you to massage your arm all the way up to the front of shoulder/clavicle region to promote improved circulation. The nerve's pinched area can be in the elbow or all the way up to shoulder/clavicle. Right now, I forget the nerve's name and route but it is in your basic nursing anatomy book. Knowledge is power!

    And don't forget to ice (for swelling & pain)... like always, 20min on, 20min off.

    Cathy

  18. #18
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    My sister had to have CTS surgery. She used the braces for a long time and when they didn't help anymore she had surgery.

  19. #19
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    I started the thread that Prism99 refered to. I put the quilt aside that I had been working on at that time, and my hands seem fine now. I do remember some of the things that redquilter mentioned: massaging the whole forearm and bending the fingers back. I had gone to a massage therapist at one time but she started to work outside her home and our hours didn't match. She seemed to be able to 'work out' the kinks in my wrists and arms and after a day of rest, I could get back to work. I am trying like heck to avoid surgery!

  20. #20
    Super Member redquilter's Avatar
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    Yes, professional massage therapy is very good. If that's not possible, self massage is good. I think it was quiltswithdogs that talked about it - massage the arm all the way up to the shoulder. Acupuncture is another option. And, as others have mentioned - a brace is good. They can be purchased over the counter in any drug store. Of course, you can't do anything with it on, but I wear mine when I sleep. (when I remember!) Between that and the bite plate to keep me from grinding my teeth, I'm not a pretty sight. Good thing I don't put rollers in my hair anymore! Yikes!

  21. #21
    Senior Member quiltswithdogs's Avatar
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    I guess I should've mentioned that I was a Nurse Massage Therapist for 20yrs until rheumatoid arthritis interfered. Lovely career path. I always had 2 parttime jobs so never "burned out" on either. Peaceful, happy massage work sure provided balance to my intense nursing jobs in ICU then forensics.
    So, from my experience, I do recommend massage therapy, but be sure to get a well trained therapist. There are even orthopedic massage therapists to whom orthopedic docs send their patients. If you are having acute pain, a doctor should be seen first to be sure it is safe, although if you can tolerate doing it on your own self, it probably is.

    Try all the suggestions given here then if they don't work and doc recommends surgery, maybe that's worth a try too. Though not everyone gets relief from it, many do.

    Another effort you may ask your doctor to prescribe as a trial before taking the surgical route, is Physical Therapy. They will work on you but also guide you to the best stretches and exercises.

    Good luck. We want to hear you are quilting in comfort again!

  22. #22
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    Sorry to hear that you have it.
    I try to spread my palm out when not using my hands.
    Also, when I sleep, I keep one hand stretched, palm up under my pillow and the other hand palm down under my head. My head holds both in place and it seems to relieve it. I do not want surgery.
    I heard too, that the surgery has to be redone after a few years.
    mej

  23. #23
    Super Member weezie's Avatar
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    After my first and crippling attack of CTS, I wore wrist braces for several years, plus took an NSaid to reduce inflammation and I made sure I got RD dose of B6 (which is supposed to aid healing???). At the same time, at my job, I traded my electric typewriter for a computer keyboard which causes much less stress on the wrists. Eventually, I got well enough to leave off the wrist braces, etc. Now, however, due to too much computer mouse clicking, I have recurring wrist pain, so I always keep a good pair of braces handy.

  24. #24
    Super Member Carol W's Avatar
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    I'm a dental hygienist and I take B-12, B-6 and folic acid.

    I have not had any pain in my wrist and I've been a hygienist for 19 years.

    Good luck!!!

  25. #25
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    Last October 2008, I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand. I am an Administrative Assistant so being on the computer has to be why this happened. I'll tell you, the surgery went well and I am so relieved and pain free! I would recommend wearing your splints every night faithfully. Anything to relieve the problem while you are quilting, has to be helpful to you. I was told I would eventually need the left hand operated on for carpal tunnel. I faithfully wear my splints every night, even though they make you feel warm. Hang in there and see your hand doctor if you have to do so. The hand dr. will give you shots if needed and a nerve conduction test to determine how serious the carpal tunnel has affected you. It is all worth it to feel better again! I wish you the best. Anne and Hera, the pug in Florida.

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