Do I have CTS? Please give me some advice


Hello, Ive been dealing with wrist problems for over 2 years now. 7 years ago I fractured both my wrists and they've never felt the same since. After they healed it took me a while to get my strength back, but for the past 2 years Ive noticed really bad pain when Im drawing. This is a big problem for me as Ive just been accepted into the best Animation University in the country and I will be drawing 100% of the time there. This is very worrying because right now I cant draw for more than 30 minutes without getting horrible pain and aches, Im very limited in my drawing now, I have to draw very big and simple, no detail or small drawings etc. If I do my wrist ceases up and gets really inflamed and shaking really bad.

Anyway, I have written down my experiences over the past 2 years since Ive been getting these bad symptoms especially when Im drawing. I really hope someone can tell me if this is CTS or if you have any advice for me at all, its really starting to get to me and I really want to get to the bottom of this at all costs before I start my degree in a few months. If I don't get a diagnosis of some kind or relief from the pain then Ive decided that I wont be able do the degree this year, and will wait to find a solution. I don't want to be in constant pain throughout my studies, I can imagine that would be very depressing.

Anyway, here are my experiences:

Wrist Symptoms

My right arm always feels tight on the inside of my arm, I can always feel a pressure on it 100% of the time.
The right hand is always shaking slightly 100% of the time. The hand feels weak and always tired so much ocmpared to my left hand that feels completely normal.

Most of the time my left wrist feels totally fine, about once a week the wrist will feel achy and painful that can last all day. I also get pain in the back of my left hand.

My right wrist and arm is the one with the real problems, I get shooting pins and needles in my hand after using it for drawing for a while, the arm and wrist has been in pain for 2 years now and Ive tried countless things to fix it but nothing has worked so far.
My wrist really aches and affects my hand, the hand is always shaking I can feel that its very out of place like I dont have a real grip on anything.
The most consistent pain is the tightness in my arm, and also the shaking is consistent. Also the bones in my wrist will ache.
After 20minutes of texting my wrist will be in horrible pain that will then last for a day or two. Its always clicking and I feel tingling in my hands.
The symptoms have been getting worse over the 2 years, the tingling sensation is a new one and the general pain is increasing.

I cant draw like I used to anymore because it causes me too much pain, I just do light gentle sketches, very big using charcoal instead of a pencil because if I use a fine thing like a pen and draw small my wrist will be in horrible pain and I will have to stop drawing and wont be able to continue for a couple of days until the pain has gone away.
Even holding my phone with my right hand causes the symptoms more, putting strain on it for any length of time makes the effects worse.
I feel the symptoms all the time but using my wrists and putting strain on them makes it a lot worse. Also my fingers feel numb all the time and my whole hand goes numb after 30minutes of drawing.

Ive tried everything, gone to see a GP several times and they still haven't diagnosed the problem. The first one said it was tendinitis, and taking ibuprofen 3 times a day for a month would make the symptoms go away, my tendons were less inflamed during that time but after I stopped taking them the symptoms returns along with a mouth ulcer.
I asked him if a physio therapist could help me and he said no. After the medication didn't work I paid for one anyway and he gave me some exercises to do, at the time they revealed my pain a lot, but the symptoms never went away and now they are getting worse.

I also tried massage techniques which helps relieves the pain a little when they really flare up, but again the symptoms never go away.

I also tried hot/cold wrist support, which helps numb the pain but doesn't make it go away. The same thing with creams like heat burn stuff that helps relieve pain and aches.

I also got a PowerBall to exercises the wrist more, to begin with it really helped, using it moderately, but after a few weeks it made my symptoms even worse and my wrist was in agony for 2-3 weeks constantly.

I tried a tens machine to help try and regulate the blood flow, but it did nothing.

I tried a highly recommended acupuncture centre and did 3 sessions and felt no relief what so ever.

I went to the GP again and he thought it sounds like arthritis, so they did a blood test for that and it came back negative.

I went to the GP again and he said a wrist brace will help, and it does help generally but it doesn't make the pain go away, it just makes my wrist feel more secure and in the neutral position. I cant draw with it as I cant move my wrist, but on a day to day basis it helps with the symptoms generally.

I went to the GP again and he said it sounds like carpal tunnel. He did a physical check of symptoms of wrist and said it seems like carpal tunnel. He did an x ray of my wrist and they said my wrists looked fine so I assumed it wasnt carpal tunnel since thats what they were suppose to be checking for.

I then paid for a specialist orthopedic to give me a physical examination and he said my right wrist was hyper-flexible and he will order me a cast to fit my wrist that I can use while drawing, it will support my wrist and give me the ability to draw at the same time,give it more stability and stop it flapping around loosely. He said I would have to use this whenever I draw and see how I get on.

After that I was on holiday for 3 weeks in Thailand, so I had to wait for my wrist support until then.
While I was out there I paid for another orthopaedics specialist, because I thought it would be cheap, but it ended up costing the same price.
He said that they don't diagnose carpal tunnel using an x ray and it only eliminates other factors. I googled it and this is correct. They can diagnose carpal tunnel using ultrasound or a nerve conduction study. An electromyogram can show if there is muscle damage.
The specialist in Thailand gave me 2 different types of pills to take 4 times a day for a month and said my symptoms might go away if I take them, he also gave me a wrist support that was worse than the one I got free from the NHS and also cost me £10. I haven't started taking them yet because I did try ibuprofen before but it didn't solve the problem. I will probably start taking them anyway just to see if it works.

Sorry that this is a long post, I just wanted to write down my experience in full so you get a full picture. I hope someone can help with in one way or another, if not Il just keep trying things out myself and see how I get on.

Thank you for your time,

Theo Sparks.


You have already answered some of your own questions there, such as the one about diagnosing CTS on X-ray (completely useless for this purpose). I see you have also completed the diagnostic questionnaire on here and on that basis it seems very unlikely that your problem is CTS. Diagnosis on the basis of an internet posting is very difficult but if I had to guess I would say that your symptoms sound suspiciously like a task specific dystonia - more commonly known in this particular situation as 'writers cramp'. Don't take my word for that though, before doing anything drastic like carpal tunnel surgery I would suggest consulting a neurologist who can assess this properly, preferably one with an interest in movement disorders. I would be very grateful if you would let me know the outcome of such a consultation. JB

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here.