ASSOCIATES (2008, July, v. 15, no. 1)


Carpal Tunnel—My Story

Carol S. Feustel
University of Cincinnati

“Why is my right hand so numb”, I wondered one morning several years ago? I shook it, flexed my fingers, and rubbed it with my left hand. Life returned, I went about my normal routine and forgot about it. Then a few days later my fingers tingled like pins and needles. Same routine—shaking, flexing, rubbing.

I noticed some discomfort in my wrist while at work typing at the computer. Oh, it’s probably Arthur wanting to find a new home. Aspircream and Tylenol helped keep the problem under control. At least I thought the problem was under control.

I’m right-handed.

Then I started noticing problems holding pens and pencils. Taking night classes toward my bachelor’s degree, I took a lot of notes. One evening in class I was scared to death.

I dropped my pen.

I picked it up with my left hand, tried to hold it again with my right hand and couldn’t get a grip.

carpal3.jpgThe next day I went to my doctor. He told me I probably had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (AKA Repetitive Movement Syndrome). He referred me for EMG (Electromyography) and to a surgeon. He had me get a wrist brace and wear it 24hrs to lessen the symptoms.

The doc that did the EMG called himself “Dr. Torture” because this test involves lots of needles. At least he had a sense of humor. He agreed with the diagnosis.

The following Sunday, before the appointment with the surgeon, I went to church. My chiropractor attended the same church. She saw my brace and wanted to know what was wrong. After I told her, she wanted me to come to her office Monday afternoon for treatment. Anything’s worth a try before a knife, right?

carpal1.jpgTonya (the chiropractor) adjusted my wrists. Then she put electro-stimulation pads on my wrist, turned the machine on for 10 min. It was amazing how much better it felt! At first I went 3 times/week for treatment, after 6 months I didn’t need regular treatment! When my left wrist started bothering me I returned for more treatment.

Tonya gave me information on wonderful wrist braces that are super comfortable. I wear them every night. It’s a small price to keep my wrists feeling good. I also have a super simple exercise I can do anywhere, anytime my wrists/fingers bother me.

carpal2.jpgThe library purchased a special chair with arm rests made especially for people with Carpal Tunnel. I also have a “Natural” keyboard. It’s amazing the difference it makes.

Oh yes–when I went to the appointment with the surgeon he of course wanted to operate. The problem was the only way he would guarantee the Carpal Tunnel problems wouldn’t return was if I would quit doing what I do for a living! I told him thanks but no thanks.

Remember—this is my story. Everyone must make their own choices.

Carol has worked in libraries since junior high school. She currently is the Journals Specialist at the Health Sciences Library, University of Cincinnati, where she has worked for 19 years. Her Snoopy collection and supply of chocolate helps the Journal Goddess keep the medical journal collection in great shape. Carol lives in Aurora, Indiana, and is a doting grandma to two adorable grandsons.