I have CTS; it started sometime last year, when I was doing a lot of data entry at work and computer gaming at home. It started out with this weird, annoying tingle in my fingertips, then eventually spread until I had pain in my left wrist, elbow and shoulder (I'm left-handed). My right hand tingles and aches if I've done a lot of typing, but it's nowhere near as bad as my left. I spoke to my doctor about it and she had some blood tests done; apparently, certain illnesses and diseases mimic the symptoms of CTS, and she wanted to rule those out. (That's how I found out I was vitamin B12 deficient and couldn't process it properly -- while B12 deficiency can
mimic some of the symptoms of CTS, it turns out that I have both problems. Lucky me.
I also saw a neurologist about it, and after running some painful tests, he concluded that I had a mild case of CTS (he pretty much said it in such a way as to imply that I was wasting his precious time
-- at that point I knew
my symptoms were mild, I wanted it dealt with before
it got to the point where I needed surgery). Anyway, I purchased a wrist brace that I wear to bed (I'm thinking of getting another one for my right wrist), and I do my best to take care of myself. I take frequent breaks at work where I stretch and relax my wrists, and my employers know about my CTS, so if anyone complains that I'm slacking I can have them talk to the HR supervisor. I put a microwaved Magic Bag (you know, the covered bags filled with oatmeal or rice or something, that give off a nice moist heat when microwaved) on my wrist or shoulder when the pain is really bad; it's possible that a cold compress would be better, but the cold causes me to tense up, which just makes it hurt more. I also get my fiance to massage my shoulder for me.
I think it's likely that there will be surgery in my future. My current job is pretty much entirely data entry, so I spend my days banging keys on the keyboard, and when I get home at night I'm playing on the computer or writing; I know if I avoid these activities my CTS wouldn't get worse, but if I avoid them I won't get paid and writing and computer games are things I enjoy and would miss if I stopped doing them -- I think the pain is worth it. Some days it's so bad I can't lift up my empty water bottle or open a door for myself, and it's at the point now where I have a hard time with certain exercises (any yoga pose that involves getting down on your hands and knees, for example, or doing push-ups). I should probably just have the surgery, but I can't afford to take time off for rehabilitation (I just became a full-time permanent employee in September) and, quite frankly, the thought of surgery scares me a little.