Friday, August 24, 2012

Ulnar Nerve Pain in Right Wrist?

I did some digging on the web to try to find out more about what's going on with the lightning pains I've been having lately.  I decided to start with seeing if I could find out the name of the forearm nerve that seems to be firing a lot.  While researching and experiencing some pain, I made a point to try to notice where I instinctively grab my arm and try to rub the pain out.  It turns out, the pain occurs on the  inner forearm, near the wrist, on the pinky side of the arm.  I always assumed it was the middle, but it's off to the edge a bit.

From what I'm seeing, this is the ulnar nerve, which is frequently associated with a condition called "tennis elbow", since it runs up to the elbow.  There's a great picture of the ulnar nerve's location here.

Something that occurred to me while doing this specific research is that I have a strange propensity and compulsion to bend my right wrist into its full range of motion to "pop" the joint.  My right wrist makes about 3-4 pops per... I dunno, per cracking instance?... each time I do it.  The left one does not crack at all, even if I try.  I was aware that I habitually do this, but I never thought it might be related to the nerve pain.

Most of the joints on my body have a lot of frequent cracking properties, especially my neck and ankles, and though I don't crack my knuckles, they would if I tried.  Going down stairs is when my ankles go to town.  I'm a walking bowl of Rice Krispies when I go down to the kitchen in the mornings.  I cannot help it.  They just pop and crack every couple of steps, over and over again.  I do not know why this is, but it's been going on for many years now.

Having established a hypothesis about my cracking wrist being related to the nerve pain, I naturally wondered if I may be causing or contributing to my nerve problem.  They are in the same location, so it seems plausible.  Bending my wrist may cause the nerve to move or get trapped or something, I figure.  Anyway, I decided I should try to avoid snapping this joint to see if it lessens the frequency of the nerve zaps in my right forearm.  I feel I may be onto something.

Cracking my right wrist is one of those things that I do subconsciously but have always underestimated just how frequently I actually do it.  It may even be tic-like behavior.  Now that I'm trying to catch myself doing it, or better yet, before doing it, I've realized that I do it a lot more frequently than I thought.  I have caught myself about to do it about five times before noon today.  I don't think I've actually managed to crack it yet today, but if I did, that's even more instances that I did not manage to notice or prevent.

This is a highly speculative experiment on my part, but since there is probably no risk to trying to quit this habit, I think it's safe for me to find out if it helps.  If this seems helpful, I may go on a quest to try to avoid cracking the rest of my joints, if I can.  The yoga poses may be helpful in strengthening my joints, if that makes any difference.  I'll report my findings after giving this a good trial, perhaps a month from today.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sharp Nerve Pains in Left Shoulder and Neck

Lately, I've been working on improving my diet and doing regular exercise.  I've been pretty good about attending yoga and getting out for walks, and have also been good about eating fresh, healthy salads for lunch, and getting nutrients into my diet.  Last Friday, I tried a couple of veggie juice drinks instead of salad, to see if I would notice any difference.  Since watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead a few days ago, I gained more hopes that eating nutritious foods could be key to healing the body, or at least give it a fighting chance against the destructive forces challenging it.  There's a lot of crap in our processed foods, and avoiding it should help me.

Anyway, I tried a "Columbia Gorge: Just Greens" drink first. It was green juice made just from organic vegetables and nothing else.  Two pounds of veggies went into the bottle, so I figured it would have lots of nutrients.  It wasn't as tasty as I'd hoped.  Part of it had to do with celery being the first ingredient.  I'm not a fan of celery.  The drink was 50 calories per serving, with 2 servings in the bottle. 

I also tried this "Naked: Green Machine" one, which was the same size bottle as the other one, also contained lots of veggies, but also plenty of fruit.  I figured this one would taste better, so I saved it for relieving my taste buds after the other drink.  I also worried I'd get hungry, so I had both as a single meal.  The flavor of the Naked juice was great. It tastes like it's just fruit juice.  More fruit means more calories and natural sugars though, so I won't be having these regularly.  I believe this one was 140 calories per serving, with 2 servings in the bottle.  However, it's good to know that the option is there if I need some healthy stuff on the go.

There's also a troubling symptom affecting more often lately.  I am noticing a new location of searing, lightning-like, nerve pain on top of my left shoulder, going from my neck out toward the shoulder.  This is the third location of this type of pain that I've had to deal with.  The back of my right thigh is the first and oldest trouble-spot, and the pain jolts I still get in that area (affecting the sciatic nerve) has made me jump and shriek from sheer surprise and the sudden, severe pain level achieved.  When it hits, it usually keeps firing, rather quickly, for several minutes.

When I was first injured in that rear-end collision in 2006, there was about a week or so of the nerve firing almost constantly, and it even affected the left leg in the same area.  It was maddening to try to get through the day feeling like someone was chasing me with a hot brand, poking constantly into the backs of my legs.  I even decided that if it didn't subside, or if it was found to be untreatable and would affect me for life, I would probably have to think about killing myself.  It's not the kind of pain you can ignore.  I was being forced to constantly pay attention to the pain.  There are some dull pains you can ignore or get used to, so you can move on with your life, but this one is not like that at all.  It's a pain that startles you into acknowledgment over and over again, with only the rare second of relief in between jolts. This sicatic pain jolt thing affected me even before the car accident, but only very rarely.  I used to get these jolts maybe one day in a year and then forget all about it. 

Anyway, since the accident, the left sciatic nerve has been much more active, though I have had months without much of a flare-up there.  However, I'd begun to feel a similar jolt of pain in my right forearm.  It would just fire, unexpectedly, at random moments, on the underside of my forearm, right into my wrist.  And it's only been the right arm thus far.  This is the second location.  Here, the attacks would occur only occasionally - much less frequently than the leg thing, anyway.

But now, I've got this kind of pain occurring in my left shoulder-neck area, and it's been firing at least a few times every hour today.  It was doing it pretty frequently yesterday, too.  I also recall having to deal with it during the work week for the past week or two.

I'm confused about what this pain pattern means.  Naturally, I'm worried about some sort of nerve problem or damage, or impingement, and the fact that it seems to be spreading is no comfort at all.  I suppose my frequently spastic muscles could be squeezing these nerves, but with Chronic Myofascial Pain, I've been having problems with a lot or all of my muscles, not just certain ones.  I have considered the possibility that posture and habits could be causing these areas to be susceptible to either muscle spasms, which may be squeezing my nerves.  What I don't have is a treatment or prevention plan, other than to keep moving and stretching as much as I can.  I'm sticking to doing yoga at least weekly, and being sure to move around, even on bad days when I may not feel up to it.

If you recognize these nerve pain symptoms, or have any helpful information for me, please share in the comments.  Thank you.