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So how bad is your carpal tunnel these days?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Mine started to be problematic 3 years ago. I had to not work for 2 years because of it, and that was rather terrifying, finding a new career is not really a thing I wanna do (surgery is a very last resort for me). In that 2 years of, I did some occasional catering work, and tried to work twice. The first time I lasted 6 weeks before it came back, the second time I made it 10 days. That one was really bad, it took 2 months before I got the feeling back in my hands.

 

For 1.5 years I've been sleeping with a brace that immobilizes my arm from elbow to fingertips, and that's been incredibly helpful. About this time last year, a friend of mine was finishing up his massage therapy training and needed to do a case study, he asked me to be his subject and I got 10 free treatments! He essentially healed me, and now I have pec stretches and other exercises I do regularly to keep things at bay.

 

I've been working full time at my current job since August, and it's not been too much of a problem. I've found though that my limit is about 6-8 weeks of full time work before I need to take a break. I do a lot of traveling and have been able to coordinate my travel schedule with that time frame, for the most part anyways. I recently did an 11-week stint at work though, and that last week was brutal, I was dropping things, couldn't do pans and had to take myself off lead and go onto second a few times, and I actually cried more than once from the pain (and the frustration of the whole thing). Fortunately I had 2 weeks booked off and when I went back to work I was all good. My employers are pretty amazing, and I proposed to them that I take a couple of weeks off every 2 months to avoid that happening again, and they agreed!

 

These days my wrists aren't too bad. I get the occasional twinge here and there, but no screaming pain, and no tingling or numbness. I have wrist braces that I wear to work on bad days, but I haven't had to wear them for a few weeks.

 

So how do you deal with your carpal tunnel? What do you do when it gets really bad at work? What's your game plan for if/when it gets to the point that you can't cook anymore?

post #2 of 12
I don't have answers for your questions but rather my own set of questions for you and others going through the struggle.

What is the main cause, in your opinion, for your carpal tunnel? Knife techniques that requires a lot of wrist movements? Using the pans?

How long have you been doing what you're doing right now?

How common is it for chefs to get carpal tunnel?
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamper View Post

Mine started to be problematic 3 years ago. I had to not work for 2 years because of it, and that was rather terrifying, finding a new career is not really a thing I wanna do (surgery is a very last resort for me). In that 2 years of, I did some occasional catering work, and tried to work twice. The first time I lasted 6 weeks before it came back, the second time I made it 10 days. That one was really bad, it took 2 months before I got the feeling back in my hands.

For 1.5 years I've been sleeping with a brace that immobilizes my arm from elbow to fingertips, and that's been incredibly helpful. About this time last year, a friend of mine was finishing up his massage therapy training and needed to do a case study, he asked me to be his subject and I got 10 free treatments! He essentially healed me, and now I have pec stretches and other exercises I do regularly to keep things at bay.

I've been working full time at my current job since August, and it's not been too much of a problem. I've found though that my limit is about 6-8 weeks of full time work before I need to take a break. I do a lot of traveling and have been able to coordinate my travel schedule with that time frame, for the most part anyways. I recently did an 11-week stint at work though, and that last week was brutal, I was dropping things, couldn't do pans and had to take myself off lead and go onto second a few times, and I actually cried more than once from the pain (and the frustration of the whole thing). Fortunately I had 2 weeks booked off and when I went back to work I was all good. My employers are pretty amazing, and I proposed to them that I take a couple of weeks off every 2 months to avoid that happening again, and they agreed!

These days my wrists aren't too bad. I get the occasional twinge here and there, but no screaming pain, and no tingling or numbness. I have wrist braces that I wear to work on bad days, but I haven't had to wear them for a few weeks.

So how do you deal with your carpal tunnel? What do you do when it gets really bad at work? What's your game plan for if/when it gets to the point that you can't cook anymore?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

"What is the main cause, in your opinion, for your carpal tunnel? Knife techniques that requires a lot of wrist movements? Using the pans?"

 

For me it's pans, tonging, knifework, fryer baskets, one-handed heavy lifting (full bowls, that sort of thing), and tossing things in bowls. Anything that has that wrist action.

 

"How long have you been doing what you're doing right now?"

 

25 years.

 

"How common is it for chefs to get carpal tunnel?"

 

Extremely. Everyone in my kitchen who has more than 10 years of cooking has it to some extent. Pretty much every chef I know has it. It's just part of the program.

post #4 of 12

My question to you is why is surgery a last resort?

The surgery prep time takes longer than the surgery itself and takes care of the problem.

I had it done 6 years ago and am doing just fine now.

post #5 of 12

Can't close my hand anymore, and have numbness, hard picking up small things from floor, but then I am also diabetic and that does not help. I know some people who got surgery and 3 months later same condition came back. I wear a carpal brace. It does not hurt just annoying.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #6 of 12

Kneading bread and fondant.

I had the arthroscopy within 10 days of the first symptoms.

The quicker you take care of it the less permanent damage you have to suffer.

 

If it is the anesthesia you are worried about (have no problems putting you to sleep it is the waking up part I freak out about wahwahwahwah  old anesthesia joke) the standard is now to use a really tight tourniquet and flood the lower arm with bupivacaine.

Numbs the surgical site altho you can still feel a bit of tugging.

Back to work in a week.

 

Your choice tho...

 

mimi

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post
 

Can't close my hand anymore, and have numbness, hard picking up small things from floor, but then I am also diabetic and that does not help. I know some people who got surgery and 3 months later same condition came back. I wear a carpal brace. It does not hurt just annoying.

 

This right here is why I see it as a last resort. A buddy of mine, he's been cooking 10 years less that me, is going back for his second round of surgery after less than a year. And he's not the only person I know who either got surgery more than once, or is worse off than before it. Nope. Not for me, thanks. Nerves are fucking small, tiny! And one false move and it's done. Operate on my liver? Sure, it's big.

post #8 of 12
I've had surgery three(3) times; twice on the first hand because the first surgeon sucked and once on the other. That was all over twenty-five(25) years ago. Get a good surgeon. In by 9 ... out by 5. There is very little down time.
post #9 of 12

Can you elaborate on what therapy your massage therapist did that was significantly beneficial to your CTS?  My girlfriend is a massage therapist, and she's aware of the condition, but she didn't suggest there was any specific therapy on her part that could "heal" me or make a significant difference.  I'm curious what therapy was done on you?

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticKrewe View Post
 

Can you elaborate on what therapy your massage therapist did that was significantly beneficial to your CTS?  My girlfriend is a massage therapist, and she's aware of the condition, but she didn't suggest there was any specific therapy on her part that could "heal" me or make a significant difference.  I'm curious what therapy was done on you?

A lot of it has to do with my pecs. I do a lot of pec-stretching exercises that promote bloodflow and nerve signals through my arm. My shoulders pull forward, which tightens my pecs up. He's done a lot of work on my chest opening up those muscles, and I do regular stretches to maintain that. There also a pair of muscles along the spine, between the shoulder blades that I work on regularly. Flexing them, or pulling them together, pulls my shoulders back, but doesn't have me sticking my chest out, you know?

YMMV.

post #11 of 12

My hands get a little swollen sometimes, but they don't hurt exactly. I just feel like I can't move them as well in the morning. Is this an early symptom? I've been working for 6-7ish years.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Well, I'm no doctor, so I won't say that it is, but those are symptoms I experienced. Numbness in my hands, as well as tingling, and some swelling. To be fair though, I also had some issues with my ulnar nerve ( the nerve that goes off when you hit your funnybone). It may be that? I would definitely get it checked out, and try to be proactive in preventing it from getting worse.

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