Anyone W/ Carpal Tunnel Ever Had To Quit?

Decorating By amberkw Updated 17 Sep 2009 , 5:34pm by prterrell

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amberkw Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 12:17am
post #1 of 23

I have had carpal tunnel for a few years now. I just started doing cakes the last year and its getting really bad. I am now having problems in my elbows, and they are killing me! No way am I giving this up. I found my passion in life and can't give it up now. Any suggestions? I really could use some right about now. Thanks - I think I'll go take me some ibuprophen now!

22 replies
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prterrell Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 12:54am
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There are stretching exercises you can do daily and before/after you do a cake that will help. Have you had the surgery? I did a few years ago and it has made all the difference in the world!

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amberkw Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 1:12am
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Really? They wanted do do surgery, then decided to have me get the injections. They worked for awhile, but now its worse. HOw long did it put you out? DO you make your fondant in a mixer? I do mine by hand & my mother keeps telling me to use the mixer. I have the large kitchenaid, but does it work as well?

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debster Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 1:13am
post #4 of 23

I had surgery on my right hand last year and have to do the left this year, nothing worked prior to that though. Sorry.

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luvbugcreations Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 1:30am
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I have carpal tunnel in both of my wrists I also have severe fibromyalgia. I have a very difficult time with my hands and I have learned to pace myself If i have alot of kneading or rolling to do that is what I have a helper for. LOL my daughter in law she is my decorator in training. As for making fondant and gumpaste in my ka I have the pro 600 and it makes mmf wonderfully I use the how to recipe here in the article section, just make sure you use your dough hook and crisco everything well and you wont have to knead too much.

Have a great night

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minicuppie Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 12:26pm
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I had the release surgery last year and except for the occasional "dead" hand in the am it has completely resolved. I know not everyone has insurance and can afford it...but I highly recommend it!

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cakesdivine Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 12:35pm
post #7 of 23

I didn't quit decorating totally, I just stopped working for the grocery stores that caused it in the first place...Now I decorate at my pace. It only flares up when I have to do a lot of piping with royal icing.

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Mike1394 Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 12:42pm
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STRETCH because CT is a compression of the tendons on the nerves basically. You need to stretch those out. Drs make no $$$$ having you stretch $$$ is made off of surgery.


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cutthecake Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 1:00pm
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I had carpal tunnel syndrome for over 25 years. I had tried everything--stretching, splints at night and day, pain relievers, rest--nothng helped. It made me miserable, as the throbbing in my neck, shoulder, elbow and hand kept me awake at night. I used to sleep face down on the right side of the bed with my arm dangling down to relieve the pain. All of my hobbies (sewing, embroidery, cake and cookie decorating, painting) aggravated it. I kept putting off the surgery because we Moms always put ourselves last.

I finally had the surgery two years ago, and it changed my life. My daughter (who had been away at college and hadn't witnessed the change), recently asked me if I was in pain while decorating cookies. No pain.

As for the recovery, I was totally helpless and useless for almost 2 weeks. (Try dressing and zipping jeans with one hand. I tried to chop an onion one day, lefty, and I looked like the Swedish chef on The Muppets.) After the bandages and stitches were removed, I gradually got my strength back. I had to buy an electric stapler for work, though, because my hand was too weak to use a regular one. And I had virtually NO post-surgical pain. No medication was necessary.

I wish I had had the surgery years earlier. I highly recommend it.

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 1:45pm
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Thankfully I never got ct but I mean I had callouses on my hands from piping so it's not that I din try icon_biggrin.gif But I always kept my hand bent in toward my body, not flexed out.

I worked for a chick who's piping hand became severely nerve damaged had the surgery--came back and piped the exact same way that got her in that fix--she's out permanently--sold her shop--and she was a nurse.

Now I did get major painful roaring inflamation (tennis elbow) from clicking the mouse doing financials, searching through literally billions of transactions, etc.

So the steroids din work, the shots were not a cure and with the firbromyalgia I had I thought my goose was cooked.

Ice therapy is what put Humpty back together--It ain't sexy but man does it work. I got an ice cube before I went to bed and rubbed it up my arm toward the elbow--in the morning I was supposed to do stretching but I usually forgot. So after weeks and weeks I was pain free.

I still mouse leftie but there's no pain.

The theory is that the ice pulls the blood to the area so you sleep with that concentration of blood there. The life of the flesh is in the blood--sure works for me!

But I mean it takes a long time for us to get that damaged so it takes time for the ice therapy to do it's magic--well worth the effort for moi.

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jamalyn1 Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 2:08pm
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The doctors all thought I had carpel tunnel in my right wrist. There were days when I couldn't open the truck door after a day of cleaning pools (my boyfriend and I run a business) Then one day my boyfriend hurt his back on a friday and was only able to get in to see one chiropractor. There he learned that I may not have carpel tunnel. They had me come in and began adjusting my neck and immediately I took the brace off and the pain was gone! I suggest checking with them before any surgery.

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mightydragon663 Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 2:19pm
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Mike1394, that isn't a very fair statement and happens to be one of my pet peeves.
My real job is being a family doc, and by the time I send someone with CTS to the hand surgeon, they have already done physical therapy, stretching and splints. Conservative treatment is always the best place to start; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
Believe me, there are a lot easier ways to make $$$ than being a physician. thumbsdown.gif

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 3:42pm
post #13 of 23
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

I still mouse leftie but there's no pain.

I mean I'm right handed and I cannot use the mouse with my right hand-nuh ugh. Inflamation/damage like that has a looooong memory.

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amberkw Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 5:28pm
post #14 of 23

So, Dr. Mike, I did injections, and they worked-for awhile. Now that its worse, I need it fixed. I think i am going in for a nerve test again. I am trying to think which month I dont have many cakes to do , so I can schedule the miracle. I am too young for this!

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cutthecake Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 5:45pm
post #15 of 23

You will probably have to take a little vacation from caking while you recover from surgery. I used the time to watch classic old movies that I hadn't seen in a long time, and movies I had never seen. I couldn't do much else. I felt fine, but my hand was bandaged, and my arm was in a sling.
I refused to go out to dinner on my birthday, which was four days after the surgery. I couldn't maneuver a fork to my mouth with my left hand, and I really didn't want my husband to cut my food and feed me out in public. Oh, the horror!
Why are you going to repeat the nerve test? If it showed CTS once, won't it always show it? I think that test was worse than the surgery!
Once again, I wish I had had the surgery years earlier.

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prterrell Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 6:44pm
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Originally Posted by amberkw

Really? They wanted do do surgery, then decided to have me get the injections. They worked for awhile, but now its worse. HOw long did it put you out? DO you make your fondant in a mixer? I do mine by hand & my mother keeps telling me to use the mixer. I have the large kitchenaid, but does it work as well?

Never had the injections. Fortunately, my Internist and my surgeon were both of the opinion that since nothing but the surgery solves the problem, why waste time and keep me in pain? I went from diagnosis to having the surgery within like 2 weeks!

I don't make my own fondant. I purchase Satin Ice. I don't use much fondant, so I haven't gotten around to trying any of the recipes out yet.

I was kind of burnt out on cakes when I left the grocery store bakery, so I didn't do any cakes for several months after the surgery, but I most likely would have been able to do so after a few weeks.

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amberkw Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 11:34pm
post #17 of 23

Dear Doctor Mightydragon663....
As a Doctor and a cake decorator, what would you suggest w/ your expertise in both worlds? Thanks everyone for your advice. I don't have a cake this week - yet. So I am taking a break - when I am not on the computer! Geesh. I need to take a hiatus.

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GenGen Posted 15 Sep 2009 , 11:52pm
post #18 of 23

ah amber i feel your pain literally. i have been decorating hobby wise for over the course of about 12 years give or take. about 4 years ago i was diagnosed with a severe form of arthritis and i too have to have weekly injections. two a week and i'm So tired of them already! i'm only 37 and wish i had something else. i've learned to accept cake orders when i can. and decline when i have to. but as mine is just a hobby, in some ways its a blessing my orders or requests aren't flooding in lol. ((hugs))

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mightydragon663 Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 12:06am
post #19 of 23

Amberkw, (this is a bit long, sorry)
You're doing part of it already. REST!!! CTS is an oversue injury where the ligament across the wrist becomes inflammed and puts pressure on the median nerve. (The nerve that gives feeling to your thumb, first two fingers and half of your ring finger.)
I do recommend the splints, but they can get in the way during the day. If they bother you too much try just wearing them at night. A referral to a good physical therapist is probably the best thing you can do. That way they can give you the proper stretching exercises in addition to doing therapy. In this case, you really want a physical therapist and not a physical therapy tech. You may also want to show the therapist how you are kneeding your fondant and holding your pastry bag, so they can help you modify they way you do it to prevent further injury.

I hope you get better soon. It would really stink to not be able to decorate cakes! icon_sad.gif

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timhenk Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 1:34am
post #20 of 23

I had CT surgery in May and was back decorating within days. Some docs tell you to take time off, some say to get right back to using your hand. It's the best thing I've ever done!!!
When I asked my doc how long I'd be out of work, he said "Depends on if you work for yourself or someone else!"

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ApplegumKitchen Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 2:06pm
post #21 of 23

I've had surgery on both my wrists - about 10 years apart (last one about 3 years ago). Both very painful at the time and NO WAY could I have been back decorating within days! Honestly took about 6 weeks before I had any strength in the wrist at all BUT both were extremely successful and I have had no problems since.

I do think that surgery techniques have dramatically improved over the years - scar from the 2nd op is only about 1/4 the size of the first one.

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3GCakes Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 2:40pm
post #22 of 23

I started decorating for TCBY 15 years ago....did it non-stop for about 2years probably 1000 cakes or so....

Then I went into banking/collections where I typed non-stop for 10 years. Everything we said to people we had to type out in our notes and enter check info...then I did some data entry for a while while pregnant with my 3rd.

Now I am back to cakes. I think maybe I am immune to this OR it is because I have ALWAYS stretched my hands. Even 15 years ago when a lot of people didn't think about it... I would walk around bending my fingers back, when I would lean on a desk I was stretching. It became a mindless habit. I think it helped, though...I get sore once in a while, but never non-functional and I can still type and decorate.

Someone I used to work with said that if you don't get CTS by a certain point when you type like did, you probably just aren't able to get it. Not sure if that is true, but it would be nice.

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prterrell Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 5:34pm
post #23 of 23

According to my surgeon 3GCakes, that's true. Some people are genetically prone to developing it, some aren't (which is why just stretching doesn't work as a preventative for everyone).

Yes, the surgery is now done laproscopically. The incisions are very very small. I have one on the base of each palm and they are each less than 1/2 an inch long and not very noticable AND I have the kind of skin that scars easily and badly, so if my scars aren't bad at all and you have better skin than i do, yours will be even less noticable!

The damage from CTS is cumulative. The longer you wait to have the surgery, the more likely you are to have permanent damage. That is one of the reasons why some people think that the surgery doesn't always work--it's because they waited too long to have the surgery and permanent nerve damage has occured. For example, my mother had the surgery done after suffering with symptoms for over 10 years and 5 of those years her Drs urging her to have the surgery. While she has had relief from the pain, she has never regained 100% of the strength in her hands and arms, even with physical therapy following the surgery. I had surgery immediately upon diagnosis -- had symptoms beginning about 3 years prior to the nerves finally degenerating to a point where the nerve conduction tests confirmed diagnosis. I have had 100% recovery -- no pain, no numbness, complete strength recovery and I did not have to have physical therapy. If your Dr. is reluctant to refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, get a different Dr. Because, as my surgeon said, the alternate therapies provide temporary relief of symptoms but do NOT correct the problem and ultimately can lead to permanent damage. The ONLY corrective is the surgery.

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