Bilateral severe carpal tunnel syndrome with upper arm weakness

Bilateral severe carpal tunnel syndrome, stiff finger joints, bilateral tennis elbow, more severe in left and bilateral upper arm weakness.

5/6 years ago I was diagnosed with an MRI as having disc problems in c4,5,6, in which c5 was almost touching spinal cord! Took it easy, five days of steroids and a few Vicodin relieved the pain. Never had a problem unless was reading too much, then I would get pain from the head down position.

When both hands started to go completely numb at night I went to see orthopaedic neck surgeon expecting it to be from neck; well the doctor came in, did two tests with my hands and said bilateral cts, gave me wrist bands and said he'd see me in 6 weeks!

I mentioned I brought my MRI cd and he said he didn't find it necessary to look, but he looked real quick and popped back in and said, you know your c5 disc is real ugly in this MRI, I said that was why I brought it, and asked him if he still stood by his cts diagnosis and he said yes!

So here I am almost a year later. I have been to th3 hand and wrist orthopedic surgeon who sent me for an emg which came back severe bilateral cts.

But where is the severe bilateral tennis elbow coming from and the bilateral upper arm weakness coming from?

Went to another neck ortho, saw his PA, and wish I would not have told him about emg, because I don't believe he did a thorough exam, unless testing reflex in both knees, and a little reflex testing on elbows, that's it!!! Not one doctor has requested a repeat MRI, and now with the cts diagnoses, they won't look past it!

I insisted on another one from the PA just to ease my own mind, and he said sure, I'll order one for you.he asked that I make appt with him and the surgeon to review MRI, but I feel like this PA did not do his job, so I don't want him in my room, I was more of a dr.

Than he was, and felt like he was just pacifying me and didn't think I needed one! What is going on with me, I'm frustrated, tired, and just want someone to acknowledge that I'm not losing my mind!! Not one doctor has offered any form of pain control; I had to ask for it, and finally got 24 5mg Vicodin, which help but I am hesitant to take because not sure if I will get any more, so I take two a day and just deal with it.

I'm not willing to do cts surgery until my neck has been eliminated as a source of the problem, which I would of thought the two neck surgeons would have wanted too, but I guess they just jumped on the cts and that's all they think it is! How can they eliminate the neck without MRI?

Am I being hard headed in insisting on one? I also have told them of the crackling in my neck and the constant dull and stiff aches where my c4,5,6 are, PA said I just had stiff neck! And my upper arm weakness was just that, only tired arms. I hope you can help me. I'm at my wits end with the pain and numbness. Thank you very much. Tina

Hello Tina,
Yes, I can imagine you are frustrated.

May I ask a few questions and make a few suggestions. Firstly CTS affects usually three or four fingers and never the pinkie. Exactly in which fingers do you get the tingling and pain?

Secondly, do any of the neck movements provoke pain or tingling in your arms, especially turning to the right, say, and then looking up?

Thirdly, does placing your hand on your head relieve the tingling?

Fourthly, go to the Search function in the navigation bar, and type in upper limb tension test. Do the test, and let me know what you find. It will be tricky because you are getting symptoms in both arms, so it's hard to establish what is normal.

Did all your doctor find any sensory or reflex changes in your arms, or weakness?

Don't you think it's time to have a chiropractic examination, and get yet another opinion. Frankly it's most unlikely that true carpal tunnel syndrome would cause weakness in your shoulder and elbows.

Obviously, it's not for me to say this is or isn't carpal tunnel syndrome, but I share your disquiet.

I hope this contributes. Let me know.

Dr B

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May 03, 2014
MRI results
by: Tina

Sorry it took so long to get back to you:) I got the results back from my MRI I finally got by being persistent!!! And it's shocking, scary, and I am sooooo pissed! I have four, yes four, protruding discs into the ventral spinal canal!! C3/4,c4/5,c5/6,and c6/7 all are compressing my spinal cord! How in the heck did two ortho neck surgeons, one ortho hand surgeon, my neurologist, an emg/NCS, and two family doctors miss this! Thankfully I was not gonna listen till I got the MRI , cause I knew my body! Of u think your diagnoses is wrong don't give in, no matter what! I will be filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against all of them for omission of care, how much more damage has been done to my body because every single doctor I seen treated me like a crazy!

Hello again Tina,
Remember in our first correspondence I asked a whole lot of questions. Would you go back and review them, giving me answers. Do that test too.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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