Carpal Tunnel

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jena, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I just got back from the doctor. My hands have fallen asleep at night for years, but lately they have been doing it during the day. I've had episodes where my hands and wrists hurt badly, but I always figured it was from straining them or something.

    The doctor tells me that I have carpal tunnel and need surgery. I always thought they didn't like to do surgery, that they sent you to physical therapy, etc first. She did give me splints and told me they might help some, but I really need the surgery.

    I carry 25-50 buckets a day, every day. I minimize the distance I have to actually carry them (put them in the truck and drive the truck) but I still have to carry those buckets or my animals will go hungry. I'm pretty sure that those buckets are the culprits here, though I spend years typing back in my panty hose life.

    My question is...has anyone had this surgery? Did it really work? The doc said I would not be able to carry stuff for 4 weeks, is this pretty accurate? I would gladly have the surgery if it fixes my hands, but I fear complications or ending up worse than I am now.

    Also...anyone want to come spend a month carrying buckets??? I don't know how in the world I can manage this one, but I'll figure something out.

    Jena
     
  2. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    If the splints don't help, the surgery is next. You might try wearing the splints while you work as well as when you sleep.


     

  3. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    caral tunnel is quite nasty i have it and the insurance carrier i had refused to pay for the surgery ,even though it was workers comp. i know a few people who have had it only 1 has said they are having worse time than befor the operation.mine was brought on from a variety of factors, i have symptoms that are like yours good luck and i hope this is what you were looking for.
     
  4. tallpines

    tallpines Well-Known Member

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    Yup---I had one done and 3 weeks later, the other.
    It was one of those things that I should have done 5 years sooner!

    The splints helped with the symptoms but did not cure.
    Chiropracter did not help.

    My worse symptoms were at a time when my daughters use to ask me to braid their hair--------and I couldn't do it because of the discomfort and hands falling asleep.
    When I finally got the surgery, they were older and didn't want me to mess with their hair.
    Thats one of my regrets and why I wish I'd had surgery sooner.

    Hands were weaker for several weeks after surgery and more sensitive to hot and cold----------but, are fine now and I am DEFINATLY HAPPY with the results of the surgery.
     
  5. Bink

    Bink Well-Known Member

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    Neighbor lady had it, but her factory put her back on the same kind of work she was doing that caused the RSI in the first place, and now she's disabled.

    I had a "mild" case of Carpal Tunnel, and the specialist they referred me to was eager to operate (that's what surgeons do!), but I wasn't so eager. I read up everything I could, took massive amounts of anti-inflammatories, took daily doses of vitamin B6, as it's supposed to help, even quit smoking :eek: because smoking was supposed to aggravate it. I think the thing that did the most good was changing jobs from intensive data entry to more varied motion. I still wear my splints at night, but rarely have any trouble anymore.

    I fear the surgery will be only temporary relief if you keep doing the things that injured you in the first place. I know the animals need fed, but wonder if you could figure out some different way to do it. Good luck!
     
  6. Bink

    Bink Well-Known Member

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    Oh-! And I also had a cortisone shot in each hand.
     
  7. Dixie912

    Dixie912 Well-Known Member

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    I feel for you. I have had a severe case of Carpal Tunnel Syn. for years. I was told to have the surgery about 7 years ago, but NEVER heard any good reports. My best friend had the surgery and ended up with a permenant tremor in her hand. Others have told me they had the surgery on the same hand 3 times. That doesn't sound like a success story to me.
    I have not found anything that helps other than stopping the activity that causes the pain in the first place. That includes about everything. For me, it was making stained glass windows. Also screwing screws, hammering, digging in the flower bed....
    If you can ride out this episode with Advil and B6, try it. The problem tends to come and go. Any other suggestions, I would love to hear also. Never know who it might help.....

    Try carrying the feed buckets half full so the weight is not so much. More trips, but less stress on your hands, and the walking will work off calories! Good luck!
     
  8. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Have you considered useing a shoulder yoke? It would take the weight off of your hands by carrring two buckets at one time.
     
  9. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    Am wondering what is in the 25 to 50 buckets you carry daily? Sounds like a LOT. Suggestion one: Put stuff in a hand cart--the kind with 2 wheels. You will still get the tension on the hand muscles, but it will be distributed differently and reduce the distance you are hauling those buckets. Two: Look for something that will build up the handles on the buckets--the first thing that comes to mind is foam pipe insulation, but that will not be firm enough. Those firm foam "noodles" sold with swimming pool toys may do the trick. They are cheap and can be carved up with a knife to give the comfortable handle and fastened on with duct tape. Three: get some of the weight off your hands. Above suggestion of a yoke is excellant, but hard to come by. (Where would one get one?). Making a strap to go over the shoulders, like a handbag might work. Four: get a price on how much the surgery, etc. (and don't forget the etc.) will cost. It may be cheaper to have a water line run out to the barn so you don't have to lug water. If you go for the surgery, be sure you investigate the surgeon first. You want an orthopedist who is skilled in hand surgery, not the local GP. Be sure you follow up with hand therapy, and follow the directions. The outcome should be good if the surgeon is good, if you adhere religiously to the hand therapy, and if you do not return to doing whatever it was that caused the problem in the first place. Would recommend trying splints, an exercise regime, and modifying how you are doing chores before even considering surgery. (Doctors recommend pills, chiros recommend adjustments, surgeons want to operate, and therapists recommend splints, etc.)
     
  10. deb

    deb Well-Known Member

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    If you wear splints and it doesn't help then get the surgery... Basically the longer you wait to do the surgery, the success rate goes down because the nerve is permanently damaged.

    Years ago my mom went to see one of the doctors on her surgical team to have her hip replacement checked when it came up that she had no feeling in her fingers. She had never mentioned it to a DR because she thought it was old age (The only way she could sew by hand was holding the needle with a pair of pliers), The Dr. quickly did some tests on her hands and arranged for her to see a specialist. She was diagnosed as having CT in both hands, but she had had it so long that the specialist wasn't sure the surgery would work. They decided to operate on one hand, let it heal completely and see if the feeling came back before doing the other hand. Her operation was quick and simple, but she never got the feeling back in her fingers because the nerve was permanently scarred.

    The surgery does work if it hasn't been too long. I knew a machinist with really bad CT, he had both hands done (one at a time) and was able to resume working full time afterward with NO problems.

    deb
     
  11. swamptiger

    swamptiger Active Member

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    I know several people who have had successful surgery for carpal tunnel. I have it myself, and have put off the surgery for the same reasons you mentioned - if not me - who else??

    I get relief by thinking of ways to lessen the movement that causes the irritation. I also have the wrist splints or braces, and have even taped my thumbs to my forefingers at night to lessen movement.

    Mine stems from running a chainsaw from age 14 to age 40.
     
  12. 65284

    65284 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yep, have had both hands done. The only thing I regret was waiting so long. When it finally got unbearable I went to the Dr., did the splints, shots, etc. waste of time and money, just like he told me it would be. The damage was so severe that I only recovered about 80 percent of the feeling, but it is immeasureably better. My hands not only went to sleep I would wake up at night with horrible cramps in my hands and arms, and they ached 24/7. I actualy felt better the day after surgery, no more aching or cramps, of course some of that might have been the "happy pills" they were giving me. I asked about having both hands done at the same time, the doctor replied " how much does your wife love you? When I asked what that had to do with it he replied you won't even be able to wipe your own.......well you get the idea. As with most of the surgery I have had the 3rd day after was the worst as far as discomfort, it rapidly improved after that. I was doing the feeding by myself in less than 2 weeks, and had the other hand done in about 3 weeks. Don't put it off it will only get worse.
     
  13. diamondlranch

    diamondlranch Member

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    Hi, I have carpul Tunnell as well. I have had it since typing all day when I worked as a secretary 7 years ago. My keyboard was not at the correct height, so my wrists were always held at an angle.

    Anyway the weight of the buckets pulling on your hands and wrists are making your condition worse!!!!

    You need to take a break if you can get the help.
    If you can't get a break. You should purchase a small shed or plastic shed to keep feed in close by to your animals.Or run garden hoses if it's water. The main thing is your hands need a break from the continuous strain.
    I have never had surgery. My left hand gives me some trouble now and then. And I do some typing but not more than a couple of hours per day and always at the right level.
    wrists should be held straight or rested straight for maximum blood flow.
    Best of luck. Let us know what you carry in the pails!
     
  14. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    The bucket inventory...

    16 buckets of ground feed to the feeder calves. I keep the feed in a gravity wagon in the shed. I fill the buckets, take them about 3 feet over to the feed conveyor belt and dump them. This amount varies, I add two buckets every few days until I get them on full feed. I am going to try to position the wagon where I can just open it up and dump on the belt. Eliminate the buckets, if possible. I can do that once they are on full feed, but not before as I might over-feed them doing it that way. In the fall, I'll have way more calves and thus way more buckets! Last fall I was hauling 30 buckets, twice a day just to the calves.

    13 buckets of chicken feed. I keep this in a gravity wagon also. I fill the buckets, take them to my truck about 15 feet away, put them in the truck. 7 of the buckets go to the barn...I drive to the barn, carry the buckets in and fill the feeders using a coffee can. The rest of the buckets go to the chickens in the pasture pens. I drive to the field, carry the bucket to the pens, climb in and dump them in the feeders. This amount varies too. The current batch is getting processed Wed, but then I have new chicks coming the 17th and the ones in the barn will go to pasture. I can see no way to eliminate buckets for chickens. Starting in July, I will also have about 500 turkeys, plus the two continuous batches of chickens...more buckets.

    I used to fill trash cans full of feed for the chicken barn, but I use so much now, it's not worth doing. I empty the trash cans too quickly. It worked before I started raising all the broilers. The chicken barn is about 1/4 mile from the shed where I keep the feed. Too far to push a cart and I don't have anywhere else to put the feed wagon. I grind 3 tons at a time.

    2 buckets of oats for the horses. Oats don't weigh much :) I will quit feeding oats as soon as I wean the foals, but then I'll be feeding the weanlings until they are sold.

    5 buckets of silage and half of ground feed to the cow in the barn who had twins. She'll be in there for at least a couple months until I'm sure that neither twin is getting neglected. I could feed her hay, but I'm out of small bales. Once she goes, there will probably be some other problem child in the barn that needs feeding. They come and go.

    Half or less buckets a day to this and that...geese, ducks, dog, pigs.

    I don't haul water. I HATE hauling water and have set up all my stuff to either be automatic or just needed a hose thrown in a tank. My pasture chickens have a very large tank that I haul in with the tractor to fill about once a week.

    If I can figure out how to quit bucketing the calves, I'll solve half the problem, but I think my chicken production is going to keep going up. I can't raise enough to supply the demand! Too bad it's not as easy to set up a gravity feed system as it is for water.

    Thanks for all the ideas. If I do have the surgery, it will have to wait until after November when I'm done with chickens/turkeys for the year. I don't start back up until March, so I'll have plenty of time to heal.

    Jena
     
  15. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    Make the handles fatter. They should be about as big around as a hoe or mattock handle - say 1½" or 2".

    Wear leather work gloves. Takes some strain off, makes handles fatter again. Do both.

    Reduce the total weight you have to carry, and reduce the weight of individual buckets that you carry. You never did say how heavy the buckets are. Consider a little red wagon or some such to transport buckets any distance. There is some sort of powered wagon advertised in Countryside magazine that is worth looking at, even if just to generate ideas.

    Change what's straining your hands first, then if necessary have the surgery but darned sure make sure you don't go back to doing the same things that were causing the damage in the first place. There's only so much slack they can take up by surgery. If they do, then you do some more of the same, they'll run out of room to make corrections.

    You're talking like it would be a choice between doing without your hands or doing without the poultry, and assuming that you can't do without the poultry. Well, it may come to that - it will if you don't change the way you do things. And of course if you lose the use of your hands, as you will if you don't change things, then you'll have to do without the poultry anyway.

    Think, please. There have to be ways you can change what you're doing before the damage becomes irreversible.
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    In the spring of 1997, I went to see the doc about pain in my right upper forearm. He told me that was "tennis elbow" (though I don't play tennis). He gave me a counterforce brace for the upper forearm and told me to teach my left hand how to use the computer mouse. However, during the exam he discovered I had "hot" bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. He also said I was predisposed to CTS because I have rectangular wrists. He said people with rectangular wrists are more prone to CTS than those with more square wrists. Since 1997, I have observed and found this to hold true with people I know in the software world who have and others who do not have CTS.

    I had been using computers hard since 1985. At the time, I was a software engineer and pounding a keyboard sometimes up to 20 hours a day. The Workmen's Comp doctor tried all the usual things: Motrin 3200 mg/day, splints, exercise, workstation modification, and so on. Nothing abated it, so I elected to have the surgery. Fortunately, I had a hand surgeon who is reputed to be the best in the midwest (Dr. Blair in Iowa City).

    I had the carpal tunnel release surgeries done back in Dec 97. I had my right hand done on Dec 1st and the left hand done on Dec 19th. Unbelievably, I had pressured the surgeon to do both hands at once. Thankfully, he said that he wouldn't do that to someone. After the first surgery, it was hard enough doing my daily activities with one hand. I couldn't believe I actually tried to get him to do both at once. I would still recommend more than the 2 weeks I had allowed myself between the surgeries.

    The surgeries were a success. However, as of 2002, I no longer do software work fulltime. So that helps I'm sure. Now I'm semi-retired and the missus and I homestead.

    One other thought. For years before the surgeries and many since, I have had pain in the middle finger and ring finger of my right hand. I used to lightly wrap a rubberband around those two fingers to immobilize them while I was using the keyboard, mouse, and sometimes just at night. That would help reduce the pain. However, the rubberband wasn't good for circulation. So eventually, my dear wife (a former seamstress) designed a simple two-finger brace using Velcro strips. It worked wonders for the pain. And being made from beige Velcro it wasn't so obvious as red/green rubberbands and didn't invite as many curious questions from my co-workers. Anyway, if anyone has this type of finger pain and is using rubberbands, send me PM and maybe I can email you a picture of my Velcro finger brace or instructions on how to make them or something. If you don't sew, maybe my wife can make you some. A brace will last about month or so before it wears out. She usually sews me up a year's supply at a time.

    In summation, I consider my CT release surgeries to be a success, but thankfully five years after I had the surgeries, I no longer do what caused the CTS in the first place.
     
  17. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have had both hands done. One with micro surgery, small cut the other with an open surgery. I would say go for it. When I got my first hand done my hand was so bad I couldnt hold anything in my hand. Had the open surgery and it took a couple of months to fully heal and even then I could catch it wrong from time to time out to 6 months.

    Had the other hand done about a year later and did the micro surgery, Took less time and I was healed enough that in a week I never new I had the surgery.
     
  18. gatecity

    gatecity Member

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    Your might try a good chiropractor. I had complete numbness in my right hand for several months. I did not want to have surgery. A local chiropractor sent out a mailer on the topic of ct and offered a full work up for a very low price. I didn't think I had anything to lose. He claims that carpul tunnel starts in the neck and that surgery is often only a partial fix. After a year of treatment, I have no further numbness and have regained all the strength in my hand. I feel it was a much better answer - for me at least.
     
  19. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

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    I got carpal tunnel from milking goats (mostly). I finally had to have the surgery done, and did have both hands done at the same time (old doctor, he'd always done it that way). It worked, but I did have a couple of friends come in once during the first week to help my handicapped daughter with her bath and do the dishes. I have been very happy with the results of the surgery, but I do still have to be careful. I can handle one or two bales of hay in a day, or one or two armloads of firewood, or milk one or two goats. But I cannot toss hay bales all day (my back wouldn't let me, anyway), or unload and stack a whole load of firewood, or milk six goats every day (I tried that a couple of years ago). Nor can I spend all day typing, or even writing by hand -- or hammering.

    Someone above suggested a neck yoke, and that sounds like a great idea. If that doesn't work, could you load the chicken feed into a cart, instead of into buckets, and scoop it into the feeders directly from the cart? You've *got* to make some serious changes here or risk permanent *irreversible* damage to your hands. That would really hinder your farming activities. Another thought is to find some help. How about an apprentice farmer?

    When you do have the surgery, make sure you don't do too much too soon.

    Kathleen
     
  20. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Can you put of metal holding bin between the gravity wagon and the belt to hold say the equivalent of X number of five gallon buckets? Lift wagon gate to fill hopper/bin until it is full. When close gate, open gate on bottom on hopper/bin to go on belt. Then repeat process.

    On the chickens, can you modify the type of hog feeder with the doors around the side. Rig with ropes to where pulling on one rope lifts all the doors. After a period of time you would come back and let the doors close by releasing the rope. That way you may only have to fill the feeder once a week or so.

    Think out of the box a bit. Call Hydra-Bed at 913-284-3674 or 800-530-5624 and ask to be sent their brochures. They sell a truck bed equipped with hydraulic arms on both sides, plus various options which can be used with the bed. I own one and if it is possible to be more than 100% satisfied I am. The beds were originally designed to haul round bales of hay. You back up to a bale, bring the arms out, then in to grab it, than lift it onto the bed. Back up to a second bale and repeat. Unloading is the reverse process. However, the arms would also hold a bin perhaps with a gate in the bottom. You put it on the ground to fill, then lift on the bed for transport. Once where you need to put out some feed you suspend the bin over the feeder or belt and empty out what you need, then bring it back to rest on the bed.

    They also make a bin which goes behind the cab which empties from the side.

    Truck bed has the push-in hydraulic couplers at the back of the bed. In theory, I could pull hydraulically operated implements with it, such as a chisel plow. Some models have a pto also for use with feed wagons.

    I know you have fixed bills to pay, but consider taking off as much as you can for a year. Sounds like if you didn't have the calves, chickens and turkeys for one year, you could handle the feedlot end of your enterprise.

    Someone asked about a bucket yoke. Would really not be that difficult. Just use a length of 1" water pipe say 4-5' long. Hang hooks on chain from both ends. Chain length needs to be just long enough to where you can bend at the knees, put the pipe behind your neck and then stand using your knees to lift. You can cushion the area behind the neck with foam pipe insulation or padding.

    When you see the old Dutch scenes with the wooden yokes, remember they didn't have water pipe back then.