Carpal Tunnel

I have had problems with my wrists for many years. It is the result of spending too much time working and playing on the computer with poor posture, inadequate tools (such as the uncomfortable, low-quality membrane keyboards from the 90s) and no consideration for ergonomics.

The size of my wrists is small, leaving little room for the nerves. It was never a major issue, but I would occasionally experience flare-ups that caused the pain to become much more intense. It was during these times that I was motivated to take action.

When I was in China in late 2000, I used the trackpoint on my Thinkpad x40 a lot. I hadn’t read anything about it, but I can assure you that you shouldn’t use it exclusively. By the time I got back to Europe, my index finger was sore and I knew I had to do something about it.

My first ergonomic upgrade from the was the Microsoft Natural Keyboard. It was a great raised tented keyboard that helped me for a long time. Most recently I got a Matias Ergo Pro, a mechanical split Keyboard I still love. These days I use a Kinesis Advantage 2.

What about pointer devices? I tried it all. Trackballs were nicer with my wrists. I used a Logitech Cordless Trackman FX, a Kensington Expert. A 3d printed Pooply. A 3M vertical mouse. A Logitech Master. These days I alternate between a Kensington Orbit plus and a Evoluent vertical mouse.

The flare ups came when I abused my hands. Typing is not a problem as long as you keep good posture. Intense physical labor like carrying heavy stuff and using power tools are hard with your wrists.

Moving to a new place mean carrying heavy boxes and drill a lot of holes. When I moved to South Germany in 2020 I started to lose sensibility on the tip of the index finger and the thumb. When I moved again last year I started to have trouble with the movement range and I lost muscle mass on my thumb.

This flare was more serious. Carpal tunnel can only get worse with the time and if you lose muscle you may never recover it back. It was difficult for me to twist my wrist of to apply pressure with the thumb. I was lucky that my hand falling asleep at night was just a minor annoyance, unlike the pain that many people on /r/carpaltunnel experience.

At this point I was willing to give the Operation a try. I felt I delayed it as much as possible and I was at the end of the tunnel. I had a neurological test done and it was clear that the nervous response on that hand was slower and weaker than what should be normal. The doctor green lighted the carpal release operation.

On March 6, 2023 I was operated with local anesthesia. The operation took about half an hour.

By the fourth day I really didn’t need painkillers anymore, but It was still painful to move the fingers a lot. Starting the sixth day I felt better and I started to use the computer again.

Today is day 15th after the operation and the mobility of the fingers is very good, I can use the computer almost as well as I did before the op. The wrist needs recovery. I still cannot carry weight, I cannot drive, and I still have numb fingers.

If my nerve damage was severe, I would have experienced such intense pain that the relief from the operation would have been immediate. Fortunately, my case was mild and without pain, so my recovery will be slower and more gradual.

Eventually, I will wake up one day and realize that my numbness has gone away. I will celebrate it doing push ups.