Changes I’ve made to help heal my carpal tunnel problem

Vik asked about my carpal tunnel problem:

Just curious if you’re going to make any changes now. As in, mouse to touchpad/trackball, some special keyboard, some software aimed at CTS sufferers, etc. I’ve been forcing myself to use the touchpad more (less mouse) because I’m concerned about CTS, after having using computers heavily for about 14 yrs.

Yes, obviously, if it’s broke, then fix it. And my hands were REALLY broken. I would come home from work and they would be swollen, my palm would be throbbing and my forearm would be in a sort of spasm. It got so bad, I actually LOOKED FORWARD to meetings (so I could rest my hands). Hehehe my doctor said that you know its bad when it gets to that point.

So first off, go see a doctor if you feel pain. Or maybe even beforehand, to head off anything that is lurking under the covers but hasn’t manifested itself yet. I really like Dr Perron. I’ve seen a few doctors about this and they usually didn’t know much about it or seemed to be set on surgery. I don’t know about you, but I like my ligaments to be intact whenever possible.

Secondly, you have to really question your work habits / setup. Here’s what I’ve implemented:

  • I take breaks about once an hour for just a few minutes. I used to just sit for hours on end, coding away, hands on keyboard and mouse. At first I used a program called TimeOut on the Mac to help, but now I just am in the habit of doing this.
  • During my break, I get up and walk around a bit to get my circulation going. I also do some specific wrist stretches to help regain the range of motion and flexibility in my hands.
  • I use a single button Apple Mouse with my LEFT hand. I’m right handed and I think the two biggest actions that damaged my hand were using the scroll wheel and right clicking. Sounds crazy, but my pointer and middle fingers on my right hand are the ones that still act up.
  • I bought another Pil-O-Splint so that I sleep with one on each hand. It helps ensure that your wrist stays straight during the night.
  • I try to make sure that my hands stay warm, so I’m usually wearing a sweatshirt or fleece or jacket. The heat helps heal your hands.
  • In the evening, I take a hot shower or apply a heat pad/hot water bottle to my shoulders. Again, its the heat that helps.

Hope this helps people out there who rely on their hands.