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Author Topic: Carpal tunnel  (Read 2573 times)
N1AB
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« on: April 15, 2010, 03:16:40 PM »

I am getting back into CW, but I am concerned about my carpal tunnel.  I am trying to determine the best key to use, one that won't contribute very much to the carpal.  As part of the issue, a straight key is out for several reasons, I don't particulaly like the iambic and would not expect to achive speeds greater than 25 wpm.  This leaves a sideswiper key, and this is what I was looking at, particularly the GHD GF601a. I also have the Vibrokeyer, but it seems to take a lot of work.  My question is: Is there any out there with a case of Carpal Tunnel and sending CW and what type of key would they suggest I use?

Thanks
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2010, 03:53:10 PM »

Bugs, sideswipers, paddles (single and iambic) were all designed to eliminate carpal tunnel syndrome, AKA "glass arm".  They all work, but paddles are easiest to use.

There's no reason to _not_ use a paddle for speeds under 25 wpm.  Keyers will all go down to 10 wpm or less.  If you have trouble with iambic technique, _don't use it_ !!  Get a single paddle (e.g. a Kent SP-1), or use a double paddle in "non-iambic" mode, only pressing one paddle at a time.

Try this:

. . . Put your arm on the table, with your elbow just off the edge, and your forearm in a comfortable resting position (not "straight forward and back".

. . . Put a paddle between your thumb and forefinger, lined up with your forearm;

. . . With the edge of your hand, and your wrist and forearm, resting on the table, push on the paddles by rotating your whole forearm left and right (counterclockwise and clockwise).  The twist comes from the elbow, not from the wrist.

That movement doesn't put any stress on the tendons involved in carpal tunnel syndrome, and it will get you up to 20 WPM, at least.

There's no "right way" to generate CW -- whatever works _for you_, use it.   If it's a keyboard, use it.

            Charles
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N7DM
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Posts: 671




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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2010, 05:03:53 PM »

You caused me to think... of the years I spent in the company of professional CW radio OPs. Some were Hand-Key and some were qualified/used 'speed keys' {Bugs}. Further *I* have made The Music 'for a while'... and I cannot remember one, single, case of 'Carpel Tunnel'. I'm sure no 'Medico', but, risking 'atomizing' the already pulverized Dead Horse, operating in Iambic is the LEAST hand motion I can think of... that makes dits and dahs.  Unless, of course, you can TYPE, which I can only do when I HAVE to... as in these 'bleep' computers!
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N5XM
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 06:59:00 AM »

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is compression of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist.  I have had good luck with massage of my wrist, palm, and the big muscle of the thumb in the thumb.  Ice also helps, but you will want to put a washcloth over the skin.  I use a Kent single paddle, and my forearm is at a 45 degree angle on the table with the fat pad of my hand (the little finger side) resting on the table.  You might also want to try a cock-up splint at night to keep your wrist back because the tendancy when you are asleep is to bring the wrist forward in toward you body, and this can make the condition worse.  This is another reason to use very light tension and travel on the paddle...there is less motion required and less energy required to make the paddle work.  You might also find that stretching your palm helps.  I do these things while watching TV.  Alleve can be helpful, and if you are not allergic, aspirin is the best anti-inflammatory drug there is.  Good luck.
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AD7WN
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2010, 06:22:29 PM »

I have carpal tunnel problems and I find that I can use either a bug or a single-lever paddle without making the problem worse.  The only requirment is that I keep my hand, wrist and forearm lying in a straight line on the table, keep my thumb and forefinger from flexing, and generate all motion by rolling my forearm from the elbow.

Help this helps and good luck, 73 de John/AD7WN
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K9PAC
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2010, 04:26:55 AM »

I also am dealing with Carpal Tunnel Syndrom as well as severe Tennis Elbow.  I've recently started learning The Code and tried a straight key to much discomfort.  Typing is ok for about 5 minutes and I want to learn to make code, the spacing and timing.
I picked up a Kent SP-1 and it allows me to practice code up to 30 minutes pain free.  It is a great paddle for me and might work for you.
73
K9PAC
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Be the change you want to see...begin at work.
VE3WMB
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Posts: 282




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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2010, 07:15:13 AM »

My response is a bit off-topic as it is not Ham Radio specific but
here goes: for all of you with CTS problems I suggest that you look into
something called ART which stands for Active Release Technique.
It is a deep muscle massage that is performed as the muscle is moved through it's range of motion. I have heard of people who were at the point of having surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome who tried ART and were able to return to work after 3 or 4 treatments.
Personally, I have had ART a number of times when I was running 2 Marathons per year and it managed to keep me injury free.
Many Registered Massage therapists and Chiropractors are certified to
perform ART.

 I just hate to see anyone out there suffer when there are other treatment options that they may not have considered.

The following link may be helpful in finder a provider

http://www.activerelease.com/providerSearch.asp

Good luck

Michael VE3WMB
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AB7KT
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Posts: 155




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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2010, 04:00:06 PM »

I have carpal tunnel and I still try to use a straight key. I always used a straight key and I always thought it was cool. However, now, I can get about 15 minutes into a contact and I have no feeling in my hand. I try to hold my arm straight down at my side when I am recieving to get the feeling back into it. After about 30 minutes I am making too many mistakes to continue.
Using an electronic keyer with a two lever paddle is fine for me. It causes me no discomfort at all.

I am not giving up the straight key and am seriously thinking about looking into surgery for the carpal tunnel. I have been to a doctor about it years ago. He did a test on me and said: " Damn, that is worse than I thought", which I thought was funny (his bedside manner).
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I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT
VA7CPC
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Posts: 2356




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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2010, 04:57:46 PM »

AB7KT --

What's the big deal about a straight key?

The side-to-side motion of a sideswiper might be much easier on your wrist and arm.  And it's still "completely manual" -- no electronics involved, nothing is automatically-generated.

I don't know if you've tried "European-style" keying, with your wrist off the table, and your whole forearm moving.  I don't know if it would help or not, but there are rumors that the European telegraphers had less trouble with "glass arm" than the Americans.  A big, Euro-style key (if it eliminated the problem) would cost less than medical treatments.

I'm not a purist about anything having to do with CW.  I came to it late in life, and I'll take all the help I can get.

                 Charles
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AB7KT
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Posts: 155




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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2010, 08:42:09 PM »

Big deal as in why I like one, or big deal as in why it causes problems with my carpal tunnel ?

I like straight keys. I am using the same straight key I bought in 1979. I was probably a ham for 25 years before I made a CW contact using anything other than a straight key.  I just always enjoyed straight keys; afterall, this is a hobby and is all about enjoyment. I recently made a CW contact with my straight key and called up my Elmer (one of my high school teachers) and told him how much I enjoyed this straight key over the years (he recommended it to me). No real reason other than that as to why I insist on using one.

I have no idea why it inflames my carpal tunnel syndrome. I guess it is just the way I hold my hand and wrist.
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I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT
N5XM
Member

Posts: 242




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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2010, 07:20:09 PM »

In my post above, I forgot to mention vitamin B-6.  It is used for various nerve conditions, for nerve entrapment like carpal tunnel, for neuropathy like in diabetes.  One study showed improvement of carpal tunnel symptoms after use of 100-200 mg per day of B-6 for several months.  Don't forget the ice, massage, and stretching. 
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IK0YGJ
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Posts: 43


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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2010, 02:10:26 AM »

Hi.
Paddle is the best choice, definitely. However, if you like (as me) manual keys like bug and sideswiper, a very good choice of Sideswiper can be Salvatore IK1OJM ones, you can find them here:

http://www.webalice.it/crapellavittorio/ik1ojm/sideswip.html

Here is a video showing one of Sal masterpiece, with wooden mosaic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfLrgYHIpjo

73 de Carlo IK0YGJ

---------------
Download your free copy of "Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy" here:
http://www.qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/index.html
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K2PHD
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2010, 12:08:27 PM »

I am using only the dash side of my Vibroplex and it seems to be fine with my carpal tunnel problem and I did not have to buy another accessory.

73s, K2PHD (Doc) Grin
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AA1BN
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Posts: 56




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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2010, 05:33:43 PM »

I was told I was developing carpal tunnel from using the laptop
keyboard. The solution was to put the laptop on a lower table.

I guess it's the angle of your arm and wrist, not as much as the
action of both.

Years back with office typewriters, they were placed low on the
special desks, and carpal tunnel wasn't a common complaint.
The advent of a table-top keyboard, laying flat to the surface,
produced angles that our piggies can't adjust to.

Try putting the key low, at knee level, and hammer away.

3's

John
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