Hacking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Dear World,

Many people, including those who spent years typing on keyboards and mousing in front of a computer, suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or CTS. In fact, CTS affects 3 to 6 percent of the adult general population (source).

There are many causes for this painful condition. Some are behavioral, others are metabolic caused by nutrition, while others are side effects of other conditions. The list includes, in order of frequency: repetitive maneuvers, obesity, pregnancy, arthritis, hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, trauma, mass lesions, amyloidosis, sarcoidosis, multiple myeloma and leukemia.

You can find lots of images and drawings of the mechanics involved in CTS here. Once you have this evil problem, it is very hard to cure it, and it is considered a lifetime condition unless you do surgery.

The treatments that are prescribed by doctors are lifestyle modifications (stop doing what is causing it), oral medications (take a pill), splinting (restriction of movement to force behavioral change), injections (inject yourself with drugs), and surgery (no thanks!).

I have had carpal tunnel issues for at least 20 years, maybe more, and it caused me all sorts of problems. My thumb, index finger and middle finger would go numb whenever I did anything repetitive with my right hand. For example, working with tools in the workshop, painting, writing, drawing, etc. In other words, all the things that I like to do. It stopped me from enjoying activities that I otherwise love, making it not-so-pleasant.

In the last few years things got worse, and my hand started going numb anytime I would raise it above my head for more than 10-20 seconds. Sometimes it would go numb at night, and other times for no reason whatsoever.

Over the years I tried all sorts of different remedies, with dubious results.

I tried Penetrex, a pain relief topical medication. While it seems to work for many people, it simply didn’t do anything for me.

I also tried various kinds of splints. The best one I used was the Muller Wrist Stabilizer. That worked OK for a little while, but it restricted my movement so much that I couldn’t use it for more than a few hours at the time, and had to take it off constantly to do most things. Splints are designed to restrict your movement, and some do it well. Unfortunately, they are not a sustainable solution, at least not for me.

I also tried copper compression gloves, but those were also totally useless for me. They actually made my hand go numb even quicker than without.

Finally, I unconvincingly tried a product called M Brace RCA, which seemed like a long shot given the extreme simplicity. This product is just a bracelet composed by a bent piece of plastic and a piece of velcro. You strap it around your wrist, not too tight but not too loose, and it is supposed to help.

Well... oddly enough, it worked like a charm for me!

I have  been wearing this thing for the last few months, and I have not had ANY symptoms of CTA the entire time. I can now raise my hand over my head for extended periods, write, type, use the mouse, work in the workshop, paint, draw, and do anything else without absolutely any numbness to my hand. It has been a lifesaver and it definitely increased by life quality. I wear it 24/7, and it doesn't restrict my movements at all.

I couldn't find much documentation on this method of treating CTS in the medical literature, so I decided to go take a look at the product's patent filed as US5385537. The drawing included in the patent shows the concept:
For details I encourage you to read the patent, but in general the idea is simple: Referring to Fig. 2, when you have CTS your Median nerve (23) is squeezed between the Radius (15), the Ulna (16), and the Transverse Carpal Ligament. The ligament is not indicated in the figure, but it is a band somewhere between the Median nerve (23) and the wrist (14). The following image shows that clearly:
When the bracelet is tied around the wrist, it brings Radius and Ulna closer to each other. That pushes the Transverse Carpal Ligament further away from the Median nerve and the bones, relieving the pressure in the Carpal Tunnel. Also, the non-elastic strap prevents movements and stress from constricting the Carpal Tunnel even more. 

I wish that the manufacturer and the inventor (Mark A. Davini) did a better job marketing and improving visibility of their product, since it is pretty miraculous how well it works.

If you suffer from CTS, I strongly recommend this product. If you are handy and like tinkering, you could even make your own (maybe more elegant than the plastic one).