Thursday, 6 May 2010

Suspected CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome)

A few weeks ago, I was doing my lab report and I was making notes from my sister's textbook. A few pages after the page I was reading was the section on thyroids, so I was like, why not have a sneaky peek? I have to learn it for my exam anyway and I wanted to see if they had some good info on it. I saw this picture of two women and one was hyper and one was hypothyroid. They had labelled different parts of the body with symptoms eg. dry skin. For the hypothyroid one, there was a label pointing to the fingers saying "carpal tunnel syndrome." I asked my sister what it was. First she said I shouldn't be reading up "about myself" and I could tell from her face she had NO clue what it was but she said something like.. oh you don't have it, it's short fat fingers. Naturally, I wasn't convinced.

So I began to google "carpal tunnel syndrome." Ill sum it up for you here:

Carpal Tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by compression of the median nerve (which is in the carpal tunnel) of the wrist. The main symptoms are tingling, pain, burning sensations or numbness of the index and middle fingers particularly. Pain can also develop in the hands and arms and patients may have difficulty gripping objects. Symptoms may increase at night.

Most cases of CTS are unknown. However, common conditions that cause CTS are obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes and trauma. The reason why its more common in hypothyrodism is because we have a tendency to retain fluid in our tissues and it is not drained correctly (this is also the case with pregnancy)

There are many simple tests the GP can carry out in order to try to re-create the symtpoms of CTS. If theyre not convinced, or generally, they may send you for further electrical nerve testing, to determine if there is any permanent damage to the median nerve

There are many treatments including wrist splints to be worn at night, corticosteroid injections, carpal tunnel release surgery (if nothing else works), physiotherapy and painkillers.

It is a form of repetitive strain injury and is caused by repetitive movements

I definitely think I have this, and I know I've had it for a number of years, even before my diagnosis of hypothyroidism. I have very weak arms and shoulders and they are always hurting. At night, the CTS wakes me up as I'll get a sudden burning of my hand because I slept on it and it's like extreme pins and needles. I will have to shake my hand out or press it gently for some time until the symptoms go. My hands can randomly fall asleep, and symptoms worsen if I hold my head with my hand(s) and if Im typing non-stop for a long time, for example for assignments. My wrists hurt a lot too. I can't hold anything too heavy for example bags when shopping as my arms get tired easily. I remember when my baby brother was born I couldn't hold him for a very long time in the cradled position without resting my arm on the sofa etc. my fingers generally are very swollen especially at the fingertips- this is something I only recently noticed. I think I have it in both arms but it may be worse in the left. If Im wearing a shoulder bag and the weight is one one side, the other arm will fall asleep. I may have to invest in a good rucksack but I do love my bags- I have one too many!

I have suspected for over a week now, and when Im sleeping I try to avoid putting pressure on my hand or arm, but sometimes it cant be helped and now I find sleeping very uncomfortable. I dont want to worsen the symptoms as I have a considerable amount of written revision and three exams to sit yet. Two of them are MCQ (multiple choice) so they should be ok, but one is written which I am slightly worried about as my hand tends to fall asleep.

Suspecting CTS has kind of put me back to square one in terms of accepting my hypothyroidism. In previous posts, I have mentioned how I feel I have completely accepted my condition. This has put me back to the start in some senses as I feel that I have caused this myself. Me being overweight and hypothyroid has put pressure on my nerve for some time now. I feel like it is my fault and I was even comparing this to a smoker who develops emphysema and wastes NHS resources when it is a self-caused illness. I feel angry at my doctors for not asking me just to double-check as they asked me about allll the other symptoms of hypothyroidism, just not this one. it should be a routine thing they ask. Perhaps Im just looking for someone to blame, when no-one is to blame really. At least I have found out now. However, some other conditions can mimick CTS symptoms so Im worried that it may be something else all together, although Im pretty sure it's this. I'm annoyed at myself for not going to my doctor sooner, I remember years ago mentioning to my mum that I have such weak arms and always get pins and needles and she said oh you may have a trapped nerve, (as her friend had it and had to have surgery) but somehow, we never saw the doctor about it.

My dilemma is this; do I see the doctor now or wait until after exams. The reason why this dilemma has arisen in the fact that I only have two and a half weeks till my exams finish, and I cannot afford to waste time with appoitnments and clinics. Do I see the doctor first to get a diagnosis or wait? Im not sure. I think I should tell my family first- especially Mum as Mums do know best- and see what they think. But Im more inclined to wait till exams are over. Im just worried about worsening the symptoms and am always aware of putting pressure on my nerve. I feel that its eating away at me inside as I havent told anyone and am unsure of what to do. I think I will tell my family tomorrow and then we'll decide what to do .

Back to revision for me now, wish me luck!! :) x

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