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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Resolved!
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By Luke W.
From Prescott
Sep 16, 2010
Avi

Yup, I got it. All the classic signs and symptoms increasing over ~2 months time. I have been taking it very easy with a few experimental days to see how it gos. I can climb pain free with minimal numbness but I dont want to do anymore damage.

I have been scouring the web but have found very little dealing with CTS and climbing. I would love to hear about some success stories as well as online resources.

Thanks!


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By Martin le Roux
From Superior, CO
Sep 16, 2010
Stairway to Heaven

This might not be relevant to your situation, but I've had some symptoms of carpal tunnel due to keyboard/mouse usage. I've found that climbing actually helps with this - it's when I don't go climbing that the symptoms flare up. But I spend 30-40 hours/week in front of a computer versus 5-10 hours/week climbing.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Sep 16, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Having the Carpal tunnel release(surgery) done was one of the best things I've ever done.

Have you seen the neurologist yet?
You need to have the resistance test done to make sure it's CTS.

josh


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By Woodchuck ATC
Sep 16, 2010
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Have had it for 2 years now. Dead, lifeless fingers and forearm when sleeping was my hint. Surgery works I hear, but must be done one wrist at a time with recovery between. Be sure to get those affordable wrist sleep 'splints' from any drug store to wear at night to help alleviate the problem. I'm find most of the day and never have any problem when climbing; just inactivity or sleep affects me.


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By adam brink
From Boulder, CO
Sep 16, 2010
Arlo in all his magnificence.

I had really bad carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists (to the point of constant pain and not being able to climb). Before you get surgery consider wearing a fully immobilizing wrist brace at night. I did this for one month and fully recovered with no surgery. Any time a flare up happens from overtraining I just ware the braces for a couple nights and any pain goes away.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Sep 16, 2010
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

adam brink wrote:
I had really bad carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists (to the point of constant pain and not being able to climb). Before you get surgery consider wearing a fully immobilizing wrist brace at night. I did this for one month and fully recovered with no surgery. Any time a flare up happens from overtraining I just ware the braces for a couple nights and any pain goes away.

my pain is only at night, so the braces are worn every night. If I forget, sometimes I get by, but not usually. No daily pain, just some sudden weakness when making a strained climbing move.


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By Toby Butterfield
From Portland, OR
Sep 16, 2010
Fear and Loathing.

Holy shit numb forearms and hands while sleeping are a symptom of CTS? That's been happening to me like crazy lately and really freaking me out.
Although it doesn't persist at all--if I wake up and move my fingers around a bit it all goes away very quickly, and there's no pain. I figured it was more of a circulation issue.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Sep 16, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Luke W. wrote:
Im terrified of the surgery option. How long did you wait before you saw the doc? Also, how did you symptoms come about? For me it was about three weeks of high volume/intensity.



I dealt with it for almost 9 years before having the surgery. I wish I'd done it way sooner.

Some of the symptoms being mentioned by folks are also symptoms of other issues.

CTS can(and often does) cause some of the symptoms mentioned. The primary symptoms involve the 3 middle fingers, which are effected by the ulnary nerve....which is the nerve effected by CTS.

You need to have the resistance test done to see if what you are dealing with is actually CTS or "just" tendonitis.

I slept with the wrist braces and that helped for awhile. The CTS would come and go as my impact on it increased and decreased....until I finally couldn't take it any longer.

I also tried taking anti inflammatories....I did Cortizone shots(1 per wrist). In the end I was very happy with the extremely non invasive "surgery"....and the very short recovery time.

josh


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By Woodchuck ATC
Sep 16, 2010
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Josh, explain the 'non invasive' surgery. I heard it's a real simple clip and stitches that must heal for like 6 weeks, and no guarantee if it doesn't cause other nerve damage or weakness to your climbing hand/wrist,etc. One hand at a time cuz ye' gotta have a good clean hand to use for daily asswiping(no stitches to get infected in other words). Total of 12 or more weeks until both are maybe healed. Is it worth the damage, recovery time, risks?


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By md3
Sep 16, 2010

Usually the problem nerve is the one going to the thumb, index, middle and up half the ring finger. It was nerve damage to my thumb that had progressed to the point where the release was necessary. The wrist guards do help, but if you are having constant numbness even just on the edge of your thumb, you need to see the doctor. Sometimes people have problems with the nerve going up to the pinky and the half of the ring finger on that side, but that is called cubital rather than carpal, if I remember right.
There are a lot of different things that can cause it. Some are minor, some are serious. They may want to run a lot of tests to eliminate the possibility of the more serious issues if you are having any other symptoms like Reynaulds attacks or night sweats. In my experience, one of the things they may not focus on early, but which can be a factor in auto-immune like problems are hormonal imbalances which may not seem too far out of whack to many doctors, but which can be the root of the issue for some people. Its worth seeing a real endocrinologist down in PHX early in the process if you might have something more than the sort of simple constriction that can be cured by stretching.


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By Anita
From Evergreen, CO
Sep 19, 2010
Aspen

True there are multiple diagnostic tool for CTS. The resistance test is a good indicator, but you should have an EMG to have a better definitive answer. I lived w/ CTS for 9 years with it being exacerbated during the colder months. It can cause pain and numbness not only in your hand and fingers, but all the way up to your shoulders depending on the severity of it. It usually only effects the thumb and first two fingers w/ some involvement of the third finger. This is because of the nerves involved. The terrible thing is this can cause muscle wasting if it is not treated. Sometimes, wearing a brace is all that you need, but other times, it will require something more invasive. Not to say there is a rush to surgery, but there are steroid injections, physical therapy and changing how you use the affected hand.
There is a cool little toy that is great to strengthen the hand and wrist called a powerball w/ a gyroscope inside.
I did have the surgery about 3 weeks ago on my dominate hand. There was no other alternative for me. However this little gyroscope has improved the CTS in my other wrist, and I may be able to get away from a surgical procedure with it.

Good luck.


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By Anita
From Evergreen, CO
Sep 19, 2010
Aspen

I developed CTS after an injury, then the repeat use in my job. However, when I would climb, there would be times that my hand would go numb after only a few hours on a crag. It would depend on how I would have to grip the rock or jam the crack. Good luck, and if you have to have an intervention, do it when the weather is crappy for a few months.


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By Jawon
Jan 14, 2011
Yes climbing

Seems like most folks here have work-related cts or cts-like symptoms. So would some light bouldering help or make it worse?

I don't have pain while climbing. I get sharp wrist pain only when I'm actually typing/mousing (like right now). I'll jump on my home woodie to stretch out a little bit and that seems to help.

I'm not sure I have cts, no doc checkup yet and it's been only a week since the pain flared up, so I'm wondering if a little bouldering would keep it from getting worse.


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By Wayne
From Superior, CO
Jan 14, 2011

If the computer is a laptop, try an external keyboard and mouse. Also you can move the mouse to the opposite hand to rest your primary hand.

My daughter had the issue from a laptop, and I've had other arm/wrist issues from a mouse, and those changes helped both of us. Personally I'd go for mild lifestyle changes like that before surgery! May not work for you of course, but trying doesn't take much.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Jan 15, 2011
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Woodchuck ATC wrote:
Josh, explain the 'non invasive' surgery. Is it worth the damage, recovery time, risks?



The surgery is outpatient. You are totally awake the whole time...you can in fact watch the surgery if you want/ your doc doesn't mind.
I was in and out in under 2 hours.

True you should do both wrists individually, for the reasons you mentioned. I did them about 2 weeks apart. I was climbing easy stuff before the stichs were out. Back climbing harder trad stuff in no more than 6weeks after the first surgery. 6weeks is no time when you consider the benefits.

I know several other climbers who had the release done, we are all very happy we did it. As I said before I wish I'd done it sooner.

I got started down the "road" to full blown CTS when I was 19 fighting forest fires. I was using a hand tool called a "Pig tool"...kind of like a Maddux. My tool had a Fiberglass Handle, which is great for durability, but horrible for dampening. So a pig tool is designed to be affective in rocky terrain, and I swung it long and hard. A couple of months in i couldn't sleep because of my hands/wrists. Over the years climbing, running chainsaws(for LONG periods of time), and using other hand tools continued to make it worse.
I was worried about the "surgery" and put it off for a long time....it's honestly NBD and I reccomend it.

josh


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By Charles Porter
Jul 15, 2012

I have carpal tunnel and was thinking about getting something along the lines of a Dynaflex Pro Gyro Ball Hand Exerciser. Has anyone used one of these or have any better suggestions. I don't have insurance so the surgery is out at lest for now.


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