27 June 2008

Compressed Ulnar Nerve

Two days ago I started having numbness in the 4th and 5th fingers on my left hand.

I tend to ignore medical things until they really begin to irritate me, but everyone had such an immediate response when I mentioned the numbness I decided to call the doctor.

It just so happened that one of the questions that the nurse practitioner asked me was about headaches (she also asked about chest pains - no chest pains at all) and I had to say that yes, I have had some dizzy headaches lately. I attributed them to running out of allergy medicine a while back and going without for several days (turns out I was correct on this). Anyway the nurse had a fairly strong reaction to the admission of headaches, especially dizzy headaches, and asked me to come in (they really should not put such excitable people in a position to counsel patients).

So I took the afternoon off, drove to La Crosse and waited for a squeezed-in visit with the doctor. It took him a whole 3 minutes to decide that I was not in any danger of a heart attack or a stroke and that what I had was a compressed ulnar nerve - a condition which normally clears up on its own, but sometimes requires surgery by an orthopedist who specializes in hands and elbows to move the nerve to a new location. Usually they only do this if a person starts having muscle wasting.

Today I am working with a neoprene pad under my left elbow and trying to keep it unbent. It is going to take some getting used to. I need to talk to HR about an ergonomic study of my workstation.


Anonymous said...

Have similar issues down both arms, chiro believes my compression is somewhere in the neck. Any progress with your condition, what did you end up doing?

MontaGael said...

My HR department ordered an ergonomic study of my workstation, and the expert they brought in made some changes to the structure of my desk, chair and keyboard position.

If I behave - sit properly, with my keyboard at the right height and angle and refrain from leaning on my elbow at my desk - then I do not have any problems at all with numbness.

If I do not... well, other than being unable to type with ease (my fingers get numb enough that they cannot find the correct keys on the keyboard), the numbness is bearable.