June 6, 2008

It's the funny bone, but not so funny

hand - ulnar tunnel syndromeNumb and tingly to the right of that line

Pay attention bloggers and blog readers! La Gringa may save you from a serious medical problem − seriously!

I have diagnosed myself to have a funny bone problem. It isn't so funny, though.

What I think I have is called ulnar tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome. The ulnar nerve, which runs from the spinal column down the length of the arm to the outer two fingers, gets pinched in the area of the elbow.

Image: Medical University of South Carolina

The result is two numb and tingly fingers, the pinkie and the ring finger. In my case the whole outer part of my left hand feels numb as well. It's constant and it is painful. Typing feels like I'm tapping on a bed of needles.

Ulnar tunnel syndrome can be caused by an accident, certain throwing sports, or weight lifting, but it is often caused by repeated pressure on the elbow. In my case, it was probably caused by...what else?...leaning on my left elbow while my right hand clicks and clacks through cyberspace, your blogs, and my bottomless pit of an email inbox.

I had the same symptoms once before. Can you guess when? It was a few months after we first got home internet access after four years without it. I was rediscovering the world day and night! I researched my symptoms at the time but had forgotten the name. That's why I sounded mysterious about the problem. I just couldn't remember the name. The last time it went away after a few weeks and I promptly and thankfully forgot about it.

This time, it's worse. It's really painful to type. I make so many errors because those two fingers feel like big fat salchichas (sausages). Every single time I type 'any', it comes out 'zany.' I'm getting lots of extraneous v's, z's, and s's and that big fat pinkie keeps HITTING THE CaPS lock liKE THis. They aren't really big and fat; they just feel that way.

My funny bone is telling me something. It's telling me to get off the damn computer so that's what I'm going to do.....Well, as much as I can anyway. You know that I'm an addict, don't you?

Here's the plan:

I'm not going to answer email for awhile and − oh, horrors! − not going to reply to comments. I'm going to start taking ibuprofen which is supposed to help with the inflammation and do some stretching exercises. Wish me luck! I don't know what I'll do if it doesn't go away on its own. I'm scared to death to have surgery.

If I get some guest blogs, I'll post them. If I don't and I just can't stand it anymore, I'll occasionally post some pictures or something that I vcan ( <− see what I mean?) do mostly with my mouse asnd my right hand. I'm going to try to go cold turkey and just not even open my email every day, because that is my downfall every morning. So, dear readers, my advice to you is to make a concerted effort to NOT lean on your elbow(s). That simple tip could save you from UTS! To learn more about Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome in simple terms, check out this page: Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome - U. of Missouri

To read more detailed, but still easy to understand information about Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, see this:

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome - Orthopod

eMedicine reports that CTS (UTS) is the second most common compressive neuropathy after Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. They also state that it affects men 3-8 times as often as women, though I read other sources which stated that it was more common in women.

For all things Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, including a public forum, see:


If you spend a lot of time on the computer, I really recommend that you read this page and perhaps develop some good habits now to prevent getting UTS:

Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome - Self Care

Get off that elbow!

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