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knyfeknerd
03-09-2012, 05:38 PM
Just wondering if anybody else out there has/had Carpal tunnel. I've been in the kitchen for 20+ years. It's all I've done and all I'll ever do unless my underwear modeling career takes off. Last spring I finally asked the doctor about the numbness and serious pain I was experiencing in both my hands and arms.
So, Carpal tunnel it is. My GP prescribed some wrist braces. They are great and do help but you can't work in a kitchen with them on. GP sends me to Neurologist. Neurologist does electro-shock testing thing and this cool imaging thing too. So yes Carpal tunnel, I mean you can see it clearly in the imaging.
Next up: Cortisone injections INTO the nerve itself! This is one of the most painful things ever. Afterward-instant relief(there is a numbing agent as well) so back to work.
Next day: I can't use my hands! Seriously this is not cool. They hurt so much worse. I'm right handed and pain is much worse in right. I can't work because I can't use my hands for a week. I tried to work left-handed for a couple of days which is so goofy.
Neurologist says this is not common. Puts me on nerve blocker which works pretty well. Has worked well for the past year. Now the pain is coming back.....what to do.
Sugery is an option but my recovery time is between 3 to 4 months. That's a long time to go without a paycheck. Surgery also is going to cost over 14k (and that's with insurance) Eventually I will have to get the surgery or I could possibly lose the use of my hand(s).
Anybody else out there have this problem? What did you do? I don't think that my freelance speedo modeling will pay the bills if my lucrative foodservice career doesn't work out.

cnochef
03-09-2012, 05:50 PM
I hate to say it, but this is a very difficult and potentially career-changing situation for you. My sister-in-law is a pastry chef and has carpal tunnel from too many years of hauling around sheet pans without properly supporting her wrists. She is now unemployed and on permanent disability, deciding on her future. I truly hope it works out for you, but the reality is that you may have to consider your options. I know that many former chefs find later career satisfaction in sales, teaching, consulting or becoming a corporate chef for example. I would urge you to assess your strengths, make friends with a good headhunter and see what's out there for you.

I too have been a chef/manager/restauranteur for over 25 years. I am currently unemployed and looking for something else. My body, especially my legs and feet, have taken a beating. I think I've done my part and it's time to move on to greener pastures, while I still have time to change careers.

El Pescador
03-09-2012, 06:12 PM
I know it sounds stupid, but have you tried changing the height of your work station(if you can)?

cnochef
03-09-2012, 06:20 PM
I know it sounds stupid, but have you tried changing the height of your work station(if you can)?

That is not stupid, that is genius for remembering it. Workplace ergonomics are extremely important, especially where repetitive tasks and movements are concerned.

knyfeknerd
03-09-2012, 06:52 PM
The bench I work on is low. However, it was made in the 40's , has an eight inch thick maple top, and the bottom is cast iron consisting of three flour bins. I should post a pic. This thing is a beast and weighs in at around 800 lbs.

WildBoar
03-09-2012, 06:57 PM
Can you raise it up on blocks to get it to a better height? Get some suitable pieces of wood, or possibly some masonry, to put under the legs and enlist the help of a few people to lift the ends. May be able to use a floor jack to help raise it if you can't recruit enough labor.

dragonlord
03-09-2012, 07:58 PM
Sleep in wrist braces, anti-inflammatory gel when you get home. Finally, when you do have surgery, make sure they only do one wrist at a time, as you may still be able to use your other hand in a supervisory role.

BobCat
03-09-2012, 09:26 PM
If you are in Charlotte then the Carolinas Medical Center should have a comprehensive hand service. If so, seek it out. Sounds like you are in need of surgery, but the rehab part is crucial. Teams devoted to hand surgery have the best results. FYI, there are differences in the surgical methodology as well. Example: some neurosurgeons will not use a pneumatic tourniquet (provides bloodless field) during surgery due to worries about median nerve compromise. Depending on your involvement, that might be important. Ask questions of your health care providers. Good luck, sorry for your situation.

ThEoRy
03-09-2012, 09:40 PM
My wife had severe pain and numbness in her right arm from the shoulder down to the fingertips. This was diagnosed twice as bursitis in the shoulder and then tennis elbow in her elbow. Months of treatment, medication, cortisone and therapy showed no sign of change, in fact it got worse. We decided to go for a third opinion, glad we did.

Turns out she had 2 herniated disks in her cervical spine between c3 c4 and c5 c6 which were bulging out so much they were crushing the nerves running down the right side causing the numbness and extreme pain. We had the microdisctectomy with fusion done at the hospital for special surgery in NYC and it pretty much saved her life and career. If we hadn't acted on it as soon as we did, permanent irreversible damage would have occurred.

In my experience doctors can be wrong, so make sure you explore all possibilities. The nerve damage, pain and numbness may be caused by a bulging disk in the neck. Get it checked out to be sure. Best of luck to you.

Chef Niloc
03-10-2012, 04:54 AM
Had it so bad I would wake with crying pane some nights. Surgery worked, best thing I ever did

Peco
03-10-2012, 05:01 AM
Acupuncture might work, I've treated several patients with such symptoms - most with success.

knyfeknerd
03-10-2012, 08:23 AM
Had it so bad I would wake with crying pane some nights. Surgery worked, best thing I ever did

How long was your recovery time?

Seth
03-10-2012, 06:57 PM
Yeah, permanent irreversable damage. I know what that is.

tk59
03-10-2012, 08:05 PM
Can you raise it up on blocks to get it to a better height? Get some suitable pieces of wood, or possibly some masonry, to put under the legs and enlist the help of a few people to lift the ends. May be able to use a floor jack to help raise it if you can't recruit enough labor....or maybe you could set a board on top of your work bench?

K-Fed
03-10-2012, 08:19 PM
The chef in one of my kitchens has had surgery this past year for that very thing and he still has pain in his arm/ shoulder that is nearly as bad as it was before hand and now a couple nice scars to go along with it. We joked around about it because he has a very agressive style in the kitchen but it is very serious and not something to be taken lightly.

Chef Niloc
03-10-2012, 10:08 PM
How long was your recovery time?

I was back at work in 5 days but couldn't use my hand for about two weeks. Took about 4-6 weeks to be better then new. The success rate of this surgery is very good trouble is a lot of people also have radial nerve damage and that's a whole other ball game. I know 4 or 5 people who had it and all were glad they did.

SpikeC
03-10-2012, 10:16 PM
After a long period of futzing about the VA decided to go ahead and do the surgery on my CTS. I had just received 100% service connected rating so I just quit working instead. They couldn't do anything about the degenerated disc disease in the cervical spine so it was an easy call.

quantumcloud509
03-12-2012, 03:56 AM
I know it sounds stupid, but have you tried changing the height of your work station(if you can)?

Works for me. I do whatever i can at my two kitchens to achieve this. Im 6'3" and hunching over all day doing the work of three people frickin hurts man! Im 27, had been having tunnel related pains since my last carreer as a mechanic which ended 5 years ago.


Acupuncture might work, I've treated several patients with such symptoms - most with success.

I love my accupuncture lady Mariah at the Pikes Place Market in downtown Seattle- it really helps!