Forum: Cakes & Cake Decorating

Carpel Tunnel and piping.

I have the beginning stages of carpel tunnel, and have before I ever even started decorating. To any other bakers with this problem, or ones similar, do you have any advice on how to improve your piping while dealing with it? How to pipe longer? How to keep the pain away or treat the pain after a lot of piping?

I find I am incredibly shaky with my piping bags and I am not quite sure if that is part of my carpel tunnel or just a natural thing. Any tips for that either?

Thank you all in advance!

Tags: carpel tunnel piping

Nikki, So Cal, www.Facebook.com/nikkibelleperchecakes

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18 Replies

verjaardagstaartenbestellen.nl by Linda ...

Hi Nikki,

I don’t have the answer to your question, just wanted to wish you all the best and I hope someone can help you.

Nikki Belleperche ...

Thank you very much for your well wishes :)

mallorymaid ...

I have carpel tunnel in my left hand (which is my dominant hand) that is causing some numbness in two of my fingers, right now i am taking ibuprofen 4 times daily to help with the inflammation, I also have a brace for my hand that i wear when sleeping to keep my wrist/hand from relaxing and bending. I also work in a bakery as well as doing my own baking and decorating at home, so to help i don’t over fill my bags, i only have what i can hold in the palm of my hand (if that makes sense), at home my husband will kneed the fondant and gumpaste for me if needed, i am also (without much success) trying to train myself to pipe with my right hand, very scary results with my piping but hopefully over time with practice it will get better and i can relieve my left hand when needed. If there isn’t any improvement with the carpel tunnel my Doctor and I will be looking into corrective surgery.

Nikki Belleperche ...

Thank you so much for your feedback! Its nice to see that such beautiful work (and amazing piping!) can still be done with carpel tunnel. I have a bandage/wrap that I use on my wrist but only when I start to feel to pain (usually only when I work a lot) and then I sleep with it on for at least a day until the pain stops completely. And I do know what you mean by only filling your bag with a handful at a time. I have noticed a big difference in pain with a bag that is too full and one that is a good handful amount. I will have to be sure to be careful of that when filling, thank you! I use disposable piping bags because I havent had the money to splurge on some nice reusable ones yet. Do you think there is a difference? Grip wise maybe? that might effect the pain level as well?

Thankfully I have less pain when kneading fondant cause I already try to do it standing and use my body weight to kneed it instead of my wrists/arms. But if im sitting while kneading it definitely wears my wrists out pretty quick! I try to keep my fondant a little warm/soft to help with that.

Thank you again. Im hoping its these little tips that I can work into my habits to help keep my condition from getting any worse!

Kara ...

Make sure it’s carpal tunnel, too. I thought I was getting it, but I went to a physical therapist and he said that I was getting hand numbness because of my horrible posture. We spend so much time standing and hunched over a counter, our shoulders tend to slump forward, and that can make your hands go numb. My shoulder is giving me problems now, and I have no doubt it’s my horrible posture causing it.

mallorymaid ...

I don’t use disposable piping bags but I don’t think it would make a difference, my experience is in how much is in the bag, i have also found at work that I need to scrape out the residual icing that is left in the upper part of the bags from the other decorators so there isn’t much of a build up or bulkiness where i twist the bag, and like you mentioned the temperature/pliability of the fondant is helpful as well, same goes for the icings at work, we have some that are quite firm ( especially during the winter months when the pails are left sitting beside an outside wall) and i need to put them back in the mixer to soften them so I am able to work with them more easily.

Nikki Belleperche ...

Costumeczar- I don’t experience any hand numbness. My pain is in the tendons in my wrists (both). When I start getting pain it feels like they are each pulled super tight, they ache and throb and are very sore. While, I have not talked to a Dr. about it yet I have described it to my loved ones who have carpel tunnel and they say that is how theirs started too. But I am also lucky enough that my table/bench is at a good height so that for most of my work I am sitting up straight. I do try to be aware of my posture! But thank you for that, If I ever experience hand numbness I will surely keep that in mind!

Kathy Kmonk ...

When I worked for Cookies by Design as a cookie decorator I didn’t think I was going to make it through my first Christmas there, my hands hurt so bad. I would wake up with what we cookie decorators called “the claw”…I couldn’t straighten up my fingers or hold my toothbrush or even a hair brush in the morning. Then I discovered compression gloves. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sm-Md-Compression-Support-Glove/14264842 What a life saver!!!!! Wouldn’t pipe without them ever again. I get mine at WalMart. This particular brand has support not only for your hand but also for your wrist. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THEM!! Seriously, they are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. (Have I told you how much I LOVE them!!??) Since I started using them, I haven’t had “the claw” once. I even wear them to bed some nights when my hands give me some trouble.

I also found that a hot paraffin bath for your hands helps a lot too. I used to have one of those plugged in in my bathroom all the time so I could put my hands in before I went to bed at night. (Until it burned out. I keep forgetting to buy a new one.) It helped immensely. I’d do that before I put my compression gloves on and I was good for the night. (Sexy, I know, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. :)

In addition to wearing the compression gloves, make sure your icing consistency isn’t so thick you have to squeeze really hard to get it out of the bag. And, I agree with the others who say, don’t make the bags too big.

Nikki Belleperche ...

Kathy, thank you so much for the link! And what an affordable price! I am going to order one right now! So far all I have had is a brace for my left wrist that my granny gave me after she retired from archery and a bandage wrap that I would use on my right wrist. But those look so much comfortable and hopefully much more effect then what I have! If only they had them in black :P

mallorymaid ...

Kathy, I see that the compression glove is latex free, can you tell me what they are made of, I am curious about being able to wear it while at work, I am constantly washing my hands at work and wondering how it would hold up to that, as well as the breathablity of it for drying while wearing it. May also try the paraffin bath to see how it works. Thanks for the tips.

Nikki, thanks for starting this thread, it’s nice to see/hear what others do to manage it.

Nikki Belleperche ...

Great questions about the glove. I didn’t even think about being able to wash my hands with it on but I did read on the website that it was washable which is a plus at least. When mine arrives I will be sure to put some input on how it feels and such!

And you are very welcome, I am very glad I made it after getting some of these great tips and feedback! I hope it will help others as well!

Kathy Kmonk ...

You’re welcome. Mallory, It’s made of an elastic material that reminds me of support stockings but thicker. If that makes sense… When I wear them to decorate I always wear vinyl gloves over them, otherwise they will get dirty quickly. I always keep extras on hand. My hands tend to sweat when I wear the vinyl gloves over them, so this way I can change them. They are washable…I just wash them in the sink with Dawn dish soap and hang them up to dry.

GeorgiainMS ...

Kathy, Do you cut the tips out of the vinyl gloves? That might help with the hand sweating. I’m glad you posted the link to your gloves. The next time I’m in Wal-Mart, I’m getting a set – plus the plastic food gloves. It probably would be good to use the gloves whether a person has pain or not, as a preventative measure.

Kathy Kmonk ...

Georgia, I do not cut the finger tips off the gloves. It never crossed my mind. lol Thanks for the tip! I really do recommend them as a preventative measure. One thing I might add about the gloves is, sometimes the hole where the index finger goes can be a little tight…you can take a pair of scissors and make the hole a little larger and the material will not fray, so don’t be afraid to do so. Now when I bought mine…they came two to a box for around $9. But buying them individually or in pairs, either way, they are a life saver. I really do recommend them for everyone.

Nikki Belleperche ...

My compression glove arrived today. I was excited and put it on right away. It feels great, super comfortable! Much like when I wrap my wrist with a bandage wrap but alot more support in the hand which is nice. I keep forgetting I even have it on. If I see them next time I am walmart I am definitely going to grab another one for my other hand (I wanted to try it before buying two).