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Carpal tunnel


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#1 Ginny C

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 05:23 PM

I've just found out that the numbness in my hands at night (only when I lie on my side) is from carpal tunnel syndrome. Is this a common problem among potters? Does the wedging method contribute to it? Or what else?

I'm pretty small and very weak (and pretty old, too), so I have to work pretty hard to wedge and center clay. Not sure if my pottery work is causing this problem, but I sure want to be able to continue to "play with clay!"

Any suggestions?

Ginny

#2 ayjay

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:03 PM

I've had both my wrists operated on for CTS, I'd had them done before I started playing with mud, so clay had nothing to do with it for me.

It seems to me that the medical profession don't really know what causes it because when I first investigated it on the net the info I got was that it was most common in both pregnant and middle aged women.

Once I knew that I had it and spoke to other people who had it the common factor that I found was grip, I've heard of plasterers getting it, usually in the hand that holds the hawk (the board with the plaster on), motorcyclists seem to be prone to it, I'm a carpenter and reasonably ambidextrous and so grip tools in both hands.


Some people can get severe pain with CTS, I just had the numbness for a couple of hours in the morning, it will get worse if you do nothing, the operation I had was simple and done under a local anaesthetic, I was fishing the next day and back at work within a week, discomfort levels from the op were about the equivalent of a mild headache for a couple of days.

#3 neilestrick

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:25 PM

I used to take B Complex vitamins for my wrist problems, and it worked great. My hand used to swell up from the tips of my fingers all the way down to my forearms. With the vitamins I rarely had it happen. It's worth a try. Double check with your doctor that taking them won't be an issue for you first.

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#4 Diane Puckett

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 07:06 PM

I had surgery for CTS in my right hand thirty years ago and have not had a problem with it since. I have had CTS in my left hand for the last five or ten years. Sometimes, like the last few months, it gets bad. When that happens, I wear a wrist splint at night, which helps a lot. I got the Wellgate for Women splint, as it fits my hand better and is less obtrusive if I have to wear it in the daytime. It is about $11 from Amazon.

Anything that puts pressure at the base of your hand will trigger CTS and will make it worse. Wedging clay, kneading bread, lifting weights, really anything pushing on that area will make it worse. Repetitive motion, such as typing can irritate it. Eating salty foods which cause fluid retention will increase pressure on the nerve. Certain exercises can help, especially if you do them periodically while working in the studio. You should be able to find the exercises online.

Try to find clays that are softer and not so hard on your hands.

If the splint does not relieve the numbness, you probably need to see a hand surgeon. Sometimes a cortisone injection will resolve CTS.
Diane Puckett
Dry Ridge Pottery

#5 JBaymore

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:20 PM

Yes, from listening to 40+ years opf ceramists complaints....... I'd say it is quite common in ceramists. And others that use their hands repetitively. And medical science knows already ythat women are statistically more prone to the ailment than men.

Poor ergonomics in any of your ceramic activities that transfer stresses to the soft tissues of the wist area or cause the mis-alignment of the bony structures of the wrist area as they respond to stresses is certainly a likely contributor to the issue.

The three place I see students tend to place undue stress on the wrists is wedging with the forces supported on the soft tissues rather than alighemd into the axis of the radius and ulna, centering causing the same thing to happen with the left hand (in western wheel rotation), and when throwing standing up with the hands pointed downward while the forearm is projecting oputward so that the injury zone then moves from the lower back to the hands.

best,

................john
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#6 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:51 PM

I think my stress was from bricking up hard brick kiln doors on two kilns four times/week and unbricking them 4 times/week. I believe hard bricks weigh 5 pounds. I have small hands, so it was a stretch. I had carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists back in 1982.
When the ceramics facility was moved , I designed a car kiln that rooled shut and a hinged door for the sprung arch kiln. Saved my wrists from repeating the problem.

Marcia

#7 Natania

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:45 PM

I think my stress was from bricking up hard brick kiln doors on two kilns four times/week and unbricking them 4 times/week. I believe hard bricks weigh 5 pounds. I have small hands, so it was a stretch. I had carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists back in 1982.
When the ceramics facility was moved , I designed a car kiln that rooled shut and a hinged door for the sprung arch kiln. Saved my wrists from repeating the problem.

Marcia



#8 Natania

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:47 PM

I have this problem too, although it actually seems to get aggravated from knitting and typing more than from clay-related activities. It seems tthat the surgery really seems to resolve the issue more-or-less permanently? Would those who've had it agree?

#9 JBaymore

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:24 PM

I believe hard bricks weigh 5 pounds.


While they vary...most are closer to 7-8 pounds.

When I build a wood kiln for a client... my hands are kinda' shot for days afterwards after handling thousands of hardbricks. I try not to carry too many at a time and use a brick carrier whenever possible.

best,

..............john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#10 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:30 PM

I have this problem too, although it actually seems to get aggravated from knitting and typing more than from clay-related activities. It seems tthat the surgery really seems to resolve the issue more-or-less permanently? Would those who've had it agree?

No. You can have it recur. laser surgery can be done numerous times but not if you had the old fashion physical cut.So pay attention to your body and follow ergonomic practices.
marcia

#11 oldlady

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:48 PM

i have been lucky enough to have only a mild case of cts. some exercises and heat therapy was prescribed and seems to have worked. when it started i found that my hands seemed to be stuck as crescents. after a 2 week therapy process i was able to put them flat together like the famous "praying hands" sculpture.

the worst thing to cause it is my bike. since my foot was injured 50 years ago and has never been right since, biking is my favorite form of exercise. the new handlebars on every bike i have seen for the last 5 years are flat and low, forcing me to lean into them and extend the wrist in the wrong direction. my hands go numb in less than a mile. why can't someone make nice old curved handlebars that are high enough to ride sitting upright? my doctor says they are available. where????
"putting you down does not raise me up."

#12 trina

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:22 PM

i have been lucky enough to have only a mild case of cts. some exercises and heat therapy was prescribed and seems to have worked. when it started i found that my hands seemed to be stuck as crescents. after a 2 week therapy process i was able to put them flat together like the famous "praying hands" sculpture.

the worst thing to cause it is my bike. since my foot was injured 50 years ago and has never been right since, biking is my favorite form of exercise. the new handlebars on every bike i have seen for the last 5 years are flat and low, forcing me to lean into them and extend the wrist in the wrong direction. my hands go numb in less than a mile. why can't someone make nice old curved handlebars that are high enough to ride sitting upright? my doctor says they are available. where????


Hi there, search the web for Holland Handlebars or Dutch bicycles... you should be able ro find the part. T

#13 Idaho Potter

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:15 PM

My wrists suffer more when I'm online than when I'm potting. Using the mouse is a killer.

As to the handlebars, any bike shop that sells or repairs bikes will have them or can get them for you. I prefer an upright posture on a bike, too. Now, if I could only afford one with pedal brakes instead of handlebar brakes. I finally had to disconnect the front wheel brake. I know--I'm hopeless.

Shirley

#14 SmartsyArtsy

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:28 PM

I have had problems on and off through the years. When my wrists hurt, I wear a brace at night. The worse problem I faced is my hands locking- cramping without release when I center clay on the wheel. That is very painful and caused me to stop throwing.

#15 Pres

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:35 AM

I used to take B Complex vitamins for my wrist problems, and it worked great. My hand used to swell up from the tips of my fingers all the way down to my forearms. With the vitamins I rarely had it happen. It's worth a try. Double check with your doctor that taking them won't be an issue for you first.


I take B-6 as a supplement for the aching wrists. This after reading a series of letters in the Ceramics Monthly magazine. I passed this along to secretaries in school having problems, and others. It seemed to help all of us. Years later a medical study debunked this treatment, but I continue with the vitamins as for me they were a help.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#16 Diane Puckett

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:54 AM

Found this online. It makes sense, and I figure I will try it before heading back to the hand surgeon. discomfort free.com
Diane Puckett
Dry Ridge Pottery

#17 koreyej

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:28 PM

Found this online. It makes sense, and I figure I will try it before heading back to the hand surgeon. discomfort free.com


Diane, thanks! That may help both me and my husband. Thanks for posting!

Korey Averill
ka Studios Pottery

www.kastudios.com





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