Sunday, November 27, 2011

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Sometimes I think to myself, will it never end? It seems I am at the beginning stages  of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

In case your are unfamiliar with carpal tunnel, I will elaborate briefly. Your carpal tunnel is located at your wrist, it creates a "tunnel" under which a major blood vessel and a large bundle of nerves travel. These nerves control the complicated movements of your hand and fingers.

Through repetitive motion, these blood vessels and nerves become inflamed, increasing their size and becoming somewhat compressed, resulting in numbness in the fingertips and thumb.

I am reasonably sure that this occurred in my right hand for several reasons. First of all, it is the repetitive motion of my hand moving the wheelchair, something I hope to lessen as time goes on and I can walk more frequently on prosthetics.

I also put a lot of pressure on the palms of my hands while walking on a walker. Additionally, I put a lot of weight on my hands and shoulders when I transfer from the wheelchair to the bed, shower, etc. And last but not least, I work out five days a week using dumbells ( no one I know).

It is not an uncommon syndrome to develop given the fact my arms, hands and shoulders are doing a lot of the work my legs used to do.

Where do we go from here? Well, Although I haven't been officially diagnosed yet, the physical and occupational therapists are pretty sure it is CTS. I will be tested for this on Wednesday. I am going to my vascular surgeon, Chad Jacob's office, just to be sure it is not a vascular related problem.

After the diagnosis I will begin guess what? more therapy. This time it will be occupational therapy, doing excercises that will "open up" the carpal tunnel.

I have already begun wearing a wrist brace per Dr. Jacob's physician assistant's advice. This brace helps keep my wrist in a straight position, this is particularily imporant during sleep. I have also googled CTS and have viewed some YouTube videos of excercises that are supposed to be beneficial. I have already begun my own therapetic regimen pending the upcoming diagnosis and occupational therapy.

I would be lying if I said all of this does not bother me. What frustrates me most  is that I have been able to maintain my independence in spite of losing both of my legs and now through some of the actions I take to remain independent,  I have developed yet another problem.

Hopefully I have caught this syndrome in it's early stages, the beginnng of which is the numbness I now experience. CTS left untreated can cause an inability to grasp and hold items (like a paintbrush or pen) and eventually causing severe pain up the entire length of your arm. The worst case scenarios result in corrective surgery.

I am definitely not going there. I believe CTS can be treated successfully through excercise and diet.

I have often felt that in a world of too much information, too often, we can get information overload. This is the case with this whole carpal tunnel thing. I don't want to focus on what can happen, I want to focus on now and what I can do  to help myself now.

I am remaining optimistic and proactive about all of this, but sometimes I think it would be nice to have a  break from my medical issues.

As we get older it becomes a game of maintenance. We try to maintain what came so easily and freely when we were younger. As has been said many times before, "it sure beats the alternative."

Another quote I like is what Cher says, "Getting old sucks."


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