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Thread: Carpal Tunnel of Love

  1. #1

    knyfeknerd's Avatar
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    Carpal Tunnel of Love

    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.

  2. #2
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    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.

  3. #3
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    El Pescador's Avatar
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    I know it sounds stupid, but have you tried changing the height of your work station(if you can)?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pescador View Post
    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.

  5. #5

    knyfeknerd's Avatar
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    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.

  6. #6
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    WildBoar's Avatar
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    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.
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  7. #7
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    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.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BobCat's Avatar
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    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.
    “Lettuce is divine, although I’m not sure it’s really a food.” D. Vreeland

  9. #9
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    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.
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  10. #10

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    Had it so bad I would wake with crying pane some nights. Surgery worked, best thing I ever did

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