Carpal tunnel blues

  • mrak
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11 years 3 months ago #7520 by mrak
Carpal tunnel blues was created by mrak
Though I've benefitted from the collective wisdom and advice of this forum for a long time,this is is my first post. I paddle a carbon Think Uno max or my V10 Ultra and enjoy training hard and racing, but carpal tunnel in my left hand causes numbness which significantly hampers my grip and pleasure. I've tried cortisone, acupuncture etc but nothing has really worked. So I've consulted a good surgeon and am almost ready to book myself in for day surgery.

My question is, has anyone reading this had surgery for carpal tunnel? What was your recovery time till you could paddle again? Was the surgery successful and did you regain grip strength? Were there any problems?
As you can tell, I'm a bit hesitant about the op and losing 4-6 weeks of training, even though my surgeon has a great reputation. Thanks.

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11 years 3 months ago #7523 by Kayaker Greg
Mrak, I haven't had the operation but I'm aware of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from feeling it mildly from riding MX bikes and a friend who is an arborist who had it. I wonder if your whole problem stems from your emphasis on grip? I say this because I smashed my right hand (again on MX bikes) and can't close it properly, in fact the last two fingers don't move at all and this is where strength of grip comes from. Even though I have no grip strength, this does not effect me at all when paddling, so what I'm saying is you shouldn't need to grip your paddle tightly to paddle effectively. If you learn to relax your grip, you might be able to get away without having the operation at all. A little grip tape stops the paddle slipping in the grip so you can have a looser grip.
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11 years 3 months ago #7524 by AR_convert
Replied by AR_convert on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Mrak, sorry to hear it's at that point.

Just thinking outside of the box, weightlifters use a wrist wrap type thing with a hook so that the wrist takes a lot of the weight off the grip.

I wonder if this would help those with this issue.

pi.b5z.net/i/u/230085/i/aluminumHooksForward_MEDIUM.jpg

Always looking for the next boat :)
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11 years 3 months ago #7525 by Sandy
Replied by Sandy on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Wow , that is outside the box ! , probably outside the bucket too w/o be able to deftly feather the blade in choppy water.
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11 years 3 months ago #7526 by Dicko
Replied by Dicko on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Mate, if you have carpal tunnel the realistic advice is there is bugger all you can do. Stretching, braces, different sized shafts etc all change things marginally for better or worse.
Both my hands go numb if I paddle hard. Have done for 5 years.
I have no pain, I just can't feel my hands when I paddle.
My criteria for surgery is pain and loss of function. I have neither so I put up with it.
If you are young, can afford the time off work, the time off paddling, the cost and the can put up with the discomfort of the surgery, then it will fix your carpal tunnel.
I know people who have had the surgery and they are happy with the results.
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11 years 3 months ago #7527 by mrak
Replied by mrak on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Thanks for the feedback everyone. Yes, as Dicko says, there are only two options really for this 10 yr old problem. Do nothing and put up with it, or have the operation. I know other paddlers must have Carpal tunnel to varying degrees of discomfit, but I'm sick of having numb iceblocks at the end of my arms. I agree with the suggestions that tight grip can exacerbate the problem, but even with a light grip and opening fingers between strokes etc, numbness still comes on at the 15-20 minute point. The rest of a 1 hr race just isn't that pleasant and in rough water it's a problem not feeling your paddle.

I guess I'm just seeking first hand (sorry) advice from paddlers who have had the op and who know what I should expect after it. Good news about the op is particularly welcome!

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11 years 3 months ago #7562 by boss
Replied by boss on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
I suffered from numbness and aching where I would even try and sleep with my hand resting on my head. tried stretching/ice etc nothing worked.
I work with my hands/paddle/ride motorbikes and played competive squash. As you are probably aware it comes from the nerves running through a small tunnel inside your wrist and swelling inpinging on the nerves. I decided to have it done about 13 years ago, both at once . that was a challenge with both wrist strapped up.
I followed the rehab and was back to full strenght in about 4/6 weeks.
I have never had a problem since. Rehab involed getting a squash and rolling it between my palms to brake up any scare tissue then working up to a golf ball. The cuts where approx 12 mm on my wrist and also one in my palm off the same size.good luck,

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11 years 3 months ago #7563 by mrak
Replied by mrak on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Thanks Boss, that's very reassuring. I hope my surgery goes as well as yours. I'd better find a squash ball!

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11 years 3 months ago #7565 by mrak
Replied by mrak on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
That's a fascinating hook AR, but I think it would be a bit awkward to use in many conditions. Still, it's good to wonder about these things. I've often pondered whether palm shaped grips attached to the shaft could work for those with hand problems.

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11 years 3 months ago #7571 by Moll
Replied by Moll on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
With the off road Motorcycling we often suffered from arm pump where you cannot even pull the clutch or brake levers. there are now gels you can apply before exercise which reduces the problems. In SA some of th off road motorcycle shops are stocking it now.

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11 years 3 months ago #7573 by Rightarmbad
Replied by Rightarmbad on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Arm pump is nothing to do with nerves.

It is caused by a continuous contraction of the arm muscles that effectively cuts of the blood flow.

Usually the return of flow is the one affective, hence the feeling of being pumped and the obvious bulging veins and arteries.

Nerve compression isn't even related to this phenomenon.

Us climbers deal with this all the time.

Follow the path of the independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that are important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.--- Thomas J. Watson
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11 years 3 months ago #7575 by owenw
Replied by owenw on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
There is no other permanent cure than the operation. I had my right hand done over 30 years ago, and my left about 10 years ago. It takes quite a bit of time (many weeks) until you can resume paddling or any other hand activity that puts pressure upon the site (any hand clutching). It will then take at least a year(from my experience) to regain full hand/clutch strength, though most activities are ok long before then. BTW I have had no recurrence of any problem since then although I paddle several times a week and I'm now in my mid 60s.

Life truly lived is full of risk; to fence out risk is to fence out life itself
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11 years 3 months ago #7581 by Stew
Replied by Stew on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Considered trying a crank shaft?

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11 years 3 months ago #7582 by LaPerouser
Replied by LaPerouser on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
I used to have this problem all the time until I switched from a round shaft to an oval/elliptical shaft.

I also added some 'grip tape' to the shaft. I didn't want to increase the diameter of the shaft (small hands), so I attached a 2cm wide strip along the shaft, such that it only makes contact with the second and third finger joints.

I use 'Non Skid Tape' (from Whitworths): ie the stuff boaties use on boat decks to give secure footing. It's thin, black and has the texture of coarse sandpaper. It grips like hell so you can keep your grip relaxed and your hand open while paddling, but it can also take all your skin off if you don't have callouses in the right places.
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11 years 3 months ago #7584 by owenw
Replied by owenw on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Stew - Whilst I use a straight shaft Bennett "Wing" on my ski and racing kayak, I use a crank shaft Werner "Shuna" paddle in my sea kayak. Using the crank shaft has nothing to do with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (pressure on the median nerve in the wrist resulting in tingling/pain in the thumb and next 2 fingers)but I find it results in a little less wrist "sideways" movement as the hand is better aligned at the catch. Over a long period of paddling, this seems to lessen the fatigue in my arms and shoulders.

Life truly lived is full of risk; to fence out risk is to fence out life itself

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11 years 3 months ago #7588 by Kiwibruce
Replied by Kiwibruce on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Surgery!!! weeks off paddling , and probably work !And it may not work .Sounds like a last resort .
Have you considered getting a few hard( you should be sqealing with pain) massages? There are plenty of Thai massage places in Sydney $10 / 10 minutes , it probably has the same effect as the guy with the sqashball therapy but you get a nice Thai girl to give your'e arm a rub .

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11 years 3 months ago #7592 by mrak
Replied by mrak on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
Thanks for the input everyone. I have booked my surgery as it's my only real option for a permanent fix to the problem.

Carpal tunnel numbness affects all sorts of people from typists to little old ladies who knit. And even paddlers. It's a nerve being restricted in the narrow tunnel in the wrist, and repetitive movement irritates the `squeezed' nerve. Result? Temporary or even long lasting numbness and shooting tingling in all fingers except the pinkie. So, freeing the nerve by cutting the restricting band of ligament covering it is the surgical process. My doc reckons it takes 45 mins.

So I guess I'll be a guinea pig for my fellow paddlers who also have this problem. I've put up with CT for years, thinking it would go away if I rested it (it doesnt- it just returns when you start paddling again). I've tried the massage, the yoga, cortisone jabs, no luck. Lots of people apparently have this operation, it's just that most of them aren't as demanding and as fussy as athletes when it comes to assurances about recovery time and grip strength etc.
Yes, the enforced non paddling recovery time will be incredibly frustrating, particularly with 2 nice skis in the carport and nice paddling weather in Sydney coming up. Also I can't do my normal upper body excercises (one handed push ups?- I don't think so!)But in the scheme of things, 4 -5 weeks off isn't that bad if I can paddle with a normal hand again for years and years to come! Don't we take good health for granted and miss it when something goes wrong!
I'll keep you posted in a few weeks about how the hand recuperates (with the help of that squash ball therapy)and whether the surgery was worth it.
Thanks for all the advice and feedback, but here goes!

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11 years 3 months ago #7595 by Rightarmbad
Replied by Rightarmbad on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
I wonder if doing one handed pushups had anything to do with the onset........

Follow the path of the independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that are important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.--- Thomas J. Watson

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11 years 3 months ago #7596 by steve
Replied by steve on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
had both hands done 6 years ago. Doctor would not do both at once - ..."who was I going to get to wipe bum?" Obvious! Had a 4 month gap but was active within a few weeks. Avoid delay as does not get better and the longer wait the more irrepairable nerve damage (as shown by conductivity tests when doctor doing original assessment).
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11 years 3 months ago #7630 by Kiwibruce
Replied by Kiwibruce on topic Re: Carpal tunnel blues
If you really want to be a guinea pig why not have 4-6 weeks off paddling while doing the all rehab as if you really had the operation and see if that works.That would be interesting!
You will save yourself $4,000 and there is no risk of making it worse .
There are hoards of people around who think they can get a quick fix "day surgery" the results are often far from what they expect .

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