The New Bakers Dozen
Hand stiffness/pain

The The Bakers Dozen: Hand stiffness/pain
By Ltom (Ltom) on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 10:55 am: Edit

I'm a new apprentice (2 mths)that started in pastry dept, now doing bakeoff (croissants, danish, muffins, bread since the bakers turned out to be no shows. Although I've done a lot of work with my hands previously this is the first time I've experienced stiffness in fingerjoints, particularly thumbs. It's worst in the morning when I get up and have experienced it for the past month--started out more painful, now stiffness. My arms & feet have gotten used to the work--are these baker "growing pains", does anyone experience the same or have suggestions, etc.

Also, I've enjoyed listening in on many of your discussions & waited til I finished school & got into the profession to join in. I'm in Canada and appreciate the advice you give one another.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 01:28 pm: Edit

Ltom, I'm not a doctor, but it sounds like your using muscles you haven't used before. It's like new shoes, you have to break them in. Don't just go dormant when you leave the job. Squeese those hand balls when you relaxing.
Most bakers have large musclular upper torso's from this work.
Most important! Visit a doctor to see what is going on and oh yea, a glass of red wine in the evening helps with circulation.

By Raine on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 06:13 pm: Edit

I don't think it is Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, if it were, you would have a tingling sensation in your fingers, and/or an ache in your wrists and/or forarms. CTS is nothing to play around with. I would check with a doctor just to be sure, they can offer some preventative measures if you have beginning stages.

If you do find that you may have it, DO NOT use Panini's method. Instead you should stretch the area, by bending your wrists as far back and as far forward as you can and hold for 10 counts, also twirling your wrists helps ease the tension. Sports creams also work.

Also, you should file an accident/injury report. That way it is documented with your company, and any bills present and future should be covered under Workman's Comp. In most cases of CTS, you will have to prove that this job is a direct result of your injury.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 06:57 pm: Edit

After 2 months you think ltom should put in his claim and soak his present employer for all it's worth. Maybe put him or her out of business.

By Doucefrance (Doucefrance) on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 07:06 pm: Edit

I agree with Panini, it's not fair to the employer. Another thing, if it is CTS, don't wait till it hurts real bad, my mistake, I had surgery on both hands in may, but the right hand has lost the fine feeling touch. It may come back, or not. So if it is CTS don't wait, don't go on medication, therapy or other nonsense. You'll end up with surgery anyway, with the pain you could do without!

By Raine on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 08:35 pm: Edit

I am not advising Ltom to soak the company. I did not say to file a claim, but merely to document the potentially serious injury to the company. That way, if, in the future, surgery is needed there will be less hassle and the "burden of proof" is already in writing.

To Doucefrance, I have not had the surgery, but expect that it will be needed eventually. (10 years with a pastry bag takes it's toll). How far did you let it progress before you took action?

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 01:42 am: Edit

My wife had tendonitis, a precursor to full blown CTS, that forced her to take two weeks off of work. I had to push her to go see a doctor and now we are both glad that she did because the doctor told us that once CTS progresses to a certain point their is no going back -- therapy, surgery, and other treatments are just stopgap measures after that. Unfortunately, he also said that most of the patients he sees are past that point and the reason in the high tech industry is too many afternoons where the pain is bad at three but people think "Oh, just another hour and a half" and then they suffer through it -- final result: they're screwed.

By Ltom (Ltom) on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 03:17 am: Edit

Thanks everybody! My hands started out with pain but are usually just stiff now in the AM. 2 fellow students become new pastry/bakers are experiencing similar sensations. In Canada, if I need surgery it's covered by gov't health plan. If things get worse or don't improve soon, I'll definitely see a professional. Just wondered if anyone else remembers what they went through when they started out and if this info is useful to those new to the food industry. I'll follow Raine's stretching exercises and Helene, if there is pain, don't worry, my hands are very important to me & I'll take care of them.
Also, I am a she and unfortunately cannot digest alcohol due to the lack of the proper enzymes--so no red wine. Lucille

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 12:07 pm: Edit

Sorry Lucille,
Hope you settle into your new job smoothly. It's a great field and there are a lot of aches and pains, but it's pretty rewarding.
ps. I've had CTS for 15yrs.. I've come to realize that CTS is a blanket name for most joint problems in the hand and arms. Everybody is different, for me, my relief comes from exercising. If I let my fingers and wrist go dormant I'm in pain for the next day. See a doctor to be on the safe side.

By Charles on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 12:13 pm: Edit

Back to the Carpa Tunnel discussion:

Late last year I noticed my hands would go numb while riding my mountain bike around. Left hand would go some what numb while driving the car. Using tongs would make my hands feel twice their size and have an annoying cramp.

I went to my local Dr. He had me do a quick test, while sitting I put my hands up to about my head and held the palms back\up with fingertips pointing back. After about five minutes the ends of my fingers were tingling. Thats when he sent me to someone else for testing.

The other Dr. found that I had moderate carpal tunnel in both the left & right hands. I turned the bills for the testing in to my insurance company. They sent the bills back and said;
no way this has to be a Workmans Comp claim.

Other than the Dr. who did surgery calling Workmans Comp and getting the ok prior to cutting I have had no problems getting the incident coevred.

Just wanted to give a first hand account of CTS.


Charles Rivers

By Raine on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 06:24 pm: Edit

Most people, just except CTS, varicos viens and minor burns as an occupational hazards. Compared to, let's say, a construction worker or fireman, these are pretty minor injuries.

I do remember my breaking in stage. My feet and legs hurt all the way up to my head, my arms and hands cramped into claws.(keep in mind I started 2 weeks before Easter, and 14 hour days were common) After awhile you just develope a rythme and are able to put the discomfort into the back of your mind, and eventually you just don't feel it anymore. I'm not sure if it goes away, or you just develope a higher tolerance to pain 8>)

By Doucefrance (Doucefrance) on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 06:36 pm: Edit

You sure develope a higher tolerance to pain, but when the pain keeps you from sleeping, you sleep 3 hours per night at a max, when you get up in the morning wishing to die because the pain is so intolerable, you brush your teeth holding the toothbrush between your wrists because your fingers hurt so bad...that was waiting too long, but I had no other choice.
CTS is just the membrane around the tendons getting thicker and so compressing the nerves and veins, capilars, whatever passes in that same tunnel. The surgery consists in removing that thick membrane, and it's over. After 2 days I could already use my fingers slowly, now after 2 months I work normally. The scars are still a little tender, but that's normal. Do not play with this,it never gets better.

By Raine on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 07:55 pm: Edit

I have heard, from other people that have had the surgery, that it will come back. I talked to one lady, after her second surgery she could no longer use her right hand at all.(botched proceedure) This is a terrifing thought to me. My hands are my livilyhood. Right now, I have a constant "tingling" sensation in my right hand and a slight pulling of the forarm and wrist. Nothing major, it doesn't hurt. It's easy enough to ignore, which is most likely the nature of the beast.

Doucefrance, I am so glad that you have recovered. I can only hope that you were not working daily under those conditions. It's the little things, usually taken for granted, that make life enjoyable.

By Bakeshpdan (Bakeshpdan) on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 10:09 pm: Edit

preventative measures. Im not 100% sure this is true but my sister was a occupational therapist, and she told me that all this hand and finger numbness comes from circulation being cut off. it is caused but a muscle or it may be a tendon that circles around the wrist not sure if it is 360 degree circle but anyway whe we as pastry chefs use our hands and wrists as much a we do this muscle or tendon becomes inflamed causing th4 loss of circulation. now what she told me to do every nigh to massage the area where the muscle crosses over the viens just about an inch below the palm on the wrist area. Danno

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Wednesday, August 02, 2000 - 12:40 am: Edit

Something that works very well for my wife is running -- the doctor said that it is because of the increased circulation.

By achef on Thursday, August 03, 2000 - 06:15 pm: Edit

Some links

Avoiding Carpal Tunnel

A cool tool for your computer, you can get it there too you know..

Braces, etc:

An HERBAL REMEDY. It may not solve bad cases, but it sure does help relieve the

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, August 03, 2000 - 06:41 pm: Edit

I have been dealing with this problem for years.
Many doctors use CTS as a blanket diagnosis for anything wrong with the hand and wrist. All people are different, my theropy is exercise to keep the circulation up. If I miss I will be brought to tears the next day.
Just my 2 cents.

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