Acute Bilateral CTS Symptoms - 3 Weeks of Continuous Tingling/Pain

by James
(Minnesota, USA)

Carpal tunnel never affects the pinkie

Carpal tunnel never affects the pinkie

I have diligently researched my symptoms/possible causes but cannot find much info on my specific symptoms. So here goes..

#General Info:#
Name] James
Age] 28
Height] 5'11" - 6'
Weight] About 170lbs, +/-5lbs
Exersize] Work
Diet] Microwavable meals and cold food recently due to working out of town, staying in hotels.
Smoker] About 1 Pack/day
Alcohol] 0-4 Nights/month, 6-pack of beer or 8oz flask of whiskey in a night. On VERY rare occasions 12+ beers or 2-3 flasks whiskey

Carpenter - About 3 Years - I'm part of a 4 man crew that builds houses, I spend most of my time rough framing and sheeting. This requires wearing a heavy tool belt w/ shoulder straps and a lot of ladder use, power tool use, hammering, heavy lifting, and stretching. It's not uncommon to do many of these tasks simultaneously and for long periods of time. My average schedule has been 10-16hr days, 6 days a week. When we're behind due to delays we often skip our day off; since May 1st I've had only 2 days off and a handful of days under 14hrs, 18 days of work in a row being the longest streak.

#Symptom Info:#
Note] I can't be sure if I have some of the common CTS related symptoms. I wasn't sleeping well before so waking up multiple times a night is a normal inconvenience. Work keeps me sore 24/7 making it hard to distinguish possible symptoms from the usual aches. And I've always had anxiety and a slight depression issue. Because of these things I am only including symptoms that are new or worse.

Symptoms] Tingling/Pain, Weak Grip, Dropping Things, Difficulty Picking Up and Maneuvering Small Objects, Clumsy Control of Digits, and Limited/Restricted Thumb Movement

Date Symptoms Appeared] Sunday, May 7th

Areas Affected] Strict CTS Pattern, Both Hands

Intensity] Left Hand 3/5, Right Hand 4/5. Worst pain coming from overly sensitive fingertips.

Relief] None. Nothing helps. Not ibuprofen or a certain position. Not when using a brace or doing stretches. Not 1 moment has it stopped. The only peace I get from it are the few choppy hours of bad sleep that I can manage.

Injury History] Dislocated Left Shoulder, Trampoline Accident, 10+ Years ago;
Dislocated Left Shoulder, Tossed a Heavy Bag Onto Shoulder, 15 Months ago;

Other Possibly Related Info] I worked an extra long day on Saturday, May 6th. In the middle of the day I crouched to take a measurement. As I stood up my back audibly cracked, I'd describe it as top half-zipper (?), but it didn't hurt at all. It actually felt very good as I'm often stiff and never intentionally crack my back or neck. As we were cleaning up at the end of the day I hit my right elbow, at the funny bone area, really hard on an aluminum extension ladder. Hard enough to leave an inch long cut and swell/bruise within the hour. I cleaned up the cut when I got to the hotel and iced it periodically during the 3 hour drive home (I live with a co-worker so he drove). After getting home I stayed up long enough to unpack, do a load of laundry and start a 2nd. My hands and fingers felt 100% normal when I went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning my hands were like this.

I have tried nsaids, ice, sleeping with wrist braces, hot shower, and had a friend give me a back massage (handheld vibrating thingy with 3 rounded legs). Nothing has helped in the slightest and it's taking a toll on my quality of life. So here I am, having read that chiropractic problems could be to blame. Any recommendation or direction would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for bearing with me through the long read. Love the site.

Thanks again,

Hello James,
Obviously you smoke, and drink too much, which is not to be recommended and they will get you in time, but you know that, and they are probably unrelated.

Perhaps even worse, James, is you just work too hard; whew, it's no wonder you body is complaining. All work and no play, makes Tom a dull boy; James too!

That bang on the funnybone, painful though it must have been, is probably unrelated too; it would affect the ulnar nerve that goes to the pinkie, whereas carpal tunnel syndrome, if that's what it is, affects the median nerve, and never goes to the little finger.

Does the pattern of tingling and pain fit with that above?

There are a lot of areas where the median nerve could be affected, especially for someone like you who does hard physical work; under the pec minor tendon in the chest, under the first rib, in the elbow are all potential sites.

And of course in your neck; ever fall off the scaffolding? Car accidents? Do movements of your neck affect your arms?

Here's an important one; when your arms are tingling, does raising your hands above your head increase or decrease the tingling?

Then, because of your smoking, we need to consider conditions of the blood vessels too.

In short, a thorough examination is called for. And a holiday!

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 have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is 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 is 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 pain-free. 

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 is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has 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 stroll 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; he has a short leg.

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. X-rays 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 few months 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 is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year 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 could not 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 should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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