Carpal Tunnel? Wrist Pain?

Decorating By SeptBabyMom Updated 22 Apr 2008 , 8:40pm by leahk

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SeptBabyMom Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 1:16pm
post #1 of 10

Does anyone suffer from this as a result of making cakes?

I've been going out of my mind with pain, discomfort, numbness, tingling in BOTH hands for the last month. Am wearing wrist guards for the past week almost 24 hrs a day to try and 'rest' my wrists. I work in an office and spend alot of time on my computer at work, so that could be the culprit. But I've only been having these symptoms since the last cake I did, end of March. That cake was very intense on my hands for sure, tons of pinching and kneading of fondant but would that have caused carpal tunnel? I don't make that many cakes... 1 in March, 1 in Feb, 1 in Jan, 1 in November....

I hate not even being able to lift my kids and am scared to death that this won't go away without surgery someday (all my reading indicates this is the best means of correction). But I'm also sad that it could mean the end of my cake decorating days.

I would love to know your experiences (if at all) with wrist pain, how you overcame it, if you think it caused it for me? Etc.


9 replies
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Solecito Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 2:41pm
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I guess you really need to see a doctor. But I think that if you haven't stop using the computer is making it worse.

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costumeczar Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 2:51pm
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Before you go the surgical route icon_surprised.gif try a good physical therapist who does sports-related and deep-tissue massage. I had the same problem and was convinced I had carpal tunnel, but I did a wedding cake for a guy who's a physical therapist, and he took one look at my posture and how I stand and started pushing around on my back. He found a couple of spots that when he pressed them sent a pain down my arm to my hand and made my fingers go numb and tingle. Try it on yourself, reach around and press around on the back of your shoulder blade near the base of your armpit. See if you can find some sore spots and press on them... It's really weird, but it made my entire arm go numb. I get flare-ups whenever I do a lot of fondant work because it's basically caused by bad posture and hunching over, so when I roll a lot of fondant I spend a lot of time hunching over the rolling pin. Try to stand really straight with your shoulders back for the next couple of days and see if that help. You can also massage the muscles in your forearms and see if you can find tender spots that affect your hands. Ice helps if they're all worked up, too.

Especially since you mentioned picking up your kids, the posture issue is probably a big part of this. When I carried my kids around it was always on one hip, not the other, so that throws your spine off. Do stretches to stretch out your hips and that can help, too.

He also did a technique on me that required a medical prescription because it's considered invasive, and not a lot of people around here are licensed to do it...It's called intramuscular trigger-point stimulation, and it sounds horrible but it got rid of the 10-yr-old pain I'd have in my back in about 4 months. They take an acupuncture needle and insert it deeper into the muscle that's tight until they hit the trigger point that's causing the pain. The needles can go deeper than deep-tissue massage, and it's the weirdest thing you'll ever feel. When the needle hits the trigger point it makes your muscle twitch (like when your eye twitches uncontrollably for a minute) then when it relaxes it stops twitching, and THE PAIN IS GONE. It's the weirdest thing to feel happening, but I swear by it and it cured me from my hand pain faster than stretching and massage would have on their own. I don't know if the technique is practiced in your area (they seem to have a lot of fighting betweem PTs, acupuncturists and doctors about who should be licensed to do it) but if you can find someone to do it for you and you're not afraid of needles I'd give it a try. In the meantime, stand up straight! Shoulders back!

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costumeczar Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 2:54pm
post #4 of 10

I also just saw some study that said computer users don't really have a higher rate of carpal tunnel than the general population, but I didn't see the details. It could just be that when people hunch over their keyboards it's affecting their posture, but it's not true carpal tunnel??

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aswartzw Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 3:05pm
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I really doubt it's carpal tunnel. I'm having the same issues but it's more nerve damage and over-use of the hands from redoing my house. The day after I ripped up the carpet and baseboards I began having weird spasms and tingling sensations along the nerves. It was to the point that brushing my teeth would result in a crawling sensation. It got better over time and laying off the hard-work.

I would go to the doctor because your case sounds more intense than mine but it could be a simple case of just resting your hands for a while! thumbs_up.gif

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SeptBabyMom Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 3:23pm
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aswhartz, how long did it take for you to get better?

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dandelion56602 Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 3:29pm
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Well, I know exactly where you're coming from. My symptoms have never gone away completely since my first pregnancy 6 yrs ago & when I work in flower beds, paint the house, squeeze on a decorating bag for hours (in the case of Elmo's fur!) I have major problems.

But it's not carpal tunnel. It's carpal tunnel syndrome I was told a couple months ago. I'm not sure of the difference b/c I've been to lazy to look up. I know w/ carpal tunnel you have a knot around the nerve in your wrist---my mom has had surgery twice on hers over a 20 yr period.

One simple "test" they do is have someone stand in front of you, hold your arms out & let them push your wrists down (like they're trying to bend them in 1/2 ) if it's carpal tunnel they'll go numb before 1 min. In that case I would see someone. In the meantime see if you can get physical therapy(your dr. should be able to write a prescription for it) , massages, or even get your dh to rub your arms. I like mine to rub on the inside of my arms, starting at my elbows and working down to my wrists. I'm actually needing some massaging myself, I screw mine up by sleeping on them too. Hope yours gets better

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SweetTcakes Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 3:29pm
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Best advice is to see your Dr. If he suspects Carpul tunnel he will send you to a neurologist who will preform a nerve test. If the test shows you have a significant amount of nerve loss you may concider surgery.. When I say significant loss, I am talking loss of muscle in your hand or loss of strength in your thumb. But this is for you doctor to figure out for you. There are different levels of Carpul tunnel ranging from minor to severe. You may be able to reverse the syndrome by going to a therapist and you may not. So first find out how severe you are and then make changes or adjustments based on that. Don't try and treat yourself, do seek medical advice. The last thing you want to do is get treated for something you don't have. Ya know what I mean..

I suffered from carpul tunnel for 5 years. I had severe loss of strength in my hand and thumb. The big muscle in my thumb was deteriorated (everytime I would put my hand palm down on a table or hard surface I would hit the bone that should have been covered by my thumb muscle and that pain is awful) I also had no feeling in 4 of my fingers. The neurologist said that I had the muscle build of an 80 year old woman in my hand. From the Neurologist I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon. The Ortho said that if I were to continue, that in just a couple of short years I would have lost full use of my thumb. Surgery was necessary for me. Now, I have feeling back in my fingers and the muscle in my hand is restored. For me the surgery worked and was a blessing.
The cause of Carpuel Tunnel is a compression of a tube of nerves the "carpul tunnel". Continual pressure on the area, repetative motion, trauma, these are some of the causes for it. There are different ways to harm this delicate tunnel of nerves..
Who knows, maybe it is just a pinched nerve in your neck or back or somewhere, the most important thing is go see your doctor she/he can localize the area in question and give you your options.. I hope this helps

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aswartzw Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 6:49pm
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Originally Posted by SeptBabyMom

aswhartz, how long did it take for you to get better?

I ripped out carpet March 29 and only now is it feeling better. At times, I might have my thumb go numb but that's very rare (and I mean rare) and only if I hold my hand in such a way that it pinches my nerve. I've decided to give it a couple of weeks now that I'm moved and not lifting heavy stuff or painting anymore (it got to the point that painting would result in hand cramps). If I am still having issues then, I'll head to the doctor to just check up on it.

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leahk Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 8:40pm
post #10 of 10

I have moderate carpal tunnel in both hands.
When I was first diagnosed (by a nerve function test), I seriously looked into surgery. The surgeon couldn't promise that there'd be no recurrence. I figured that was an awful lot of trouble for a maybe!
I did physical therapy which included ultrasound stimulation. The therapist also gave me some stretching exercises which I do whenever I have a flare-up. I find that I CAN'T squeeze a decorating bag with a wrist brace, so when in pain while doing a cake, I heat my wrists. Paraffin it the most soothing, but warming up a towel and wrapping it around the wrists helps too.
Good luck!

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