help identifying a set of medical symptoms

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by andrew markworthy, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. andrew markworthy

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    I never thought I'd find myself typing these words, but I'm trying to help my mother-in-law.

    About 15 years ago she developed the following symptom. She would wake up during the night with numbness and/or tingling in her hands. The sensation was relatively mild and would disperse in a few minutes, but it was an irritation. At the time she was employed as a secretary and did a large amount of typing. Over the last fifteen years the symptoms have remained but over the last year or so they have worsened considerably so that it is a rare night when she gets uninterrupted sleep.

    Okay, now before you say the words 'carpal tunnel syndrome' the symptoms don't entirely fit:

    (a) there's no Tinel's or Phelan's sign
    (b) the symptoms only appear during sleep

    To exclude the other obvious possibility - it is *not* the result of her lying on her hands and them going numb.

    The numbness is like glove anaesthesia (i.e. the whole hand is numb, not just half of it). This is typically a psychosomatic sign, but I can promise you in this case it isn't (trust me, I'm a psychology prof! But seriously, there's a lengthy set of reasons why it isn't that I don't want to get into because it would just sidetrack things).

    There is no sign of damage to the neck, spinal column, arms, or similar.

    My mother-in-law has been seen by an osteopath, of course by her medical general practitioner, by a surgeon specialising in hands, and by a neurologist, and has had all obvious tests done. The current medical diagnosis is basically carpal tunnel syndrome-ish, but nobody is certain.

    Has anyone encountered this phenomenon before, please? It's not that my mother-in-law is seriously ill, but if we can nail the problem it would perhaps mean she could get a decent night's sleep.

    Incidentally, she's now in her late sixties, physically very fit, doesn't drink or smoke (never has done) has no vices and is not on any medication. She stopped doing secretarial work about eight years ago, and in any case the level of her physical activity appears unrelated to the symptoms.
     
  2. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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  3. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Disregarding the peculiarity of a man trying to help his mother-in-law, have you considered allergies? Some weeks ago, I had these episodes where for a few minutes, my hands and/or feet would tingle and itch something fierce. Not the skin but inside. There was no rash or anything like that. It happened almost exactly at the same time every day, mid-evening when I am usually collapsed on the couch watching a movie. Then it started happening in the morning as well, and then at random times. Basically it was getting worse.

    My doctor (asshole) shrugged it off... It eventually went away, but looking back, I am pretty certain it was an allergy to this particular brand of a beverage I was rather fond of at the time.

    --
    H
     
  4. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    It sounds to me like nerve impingement in her neck- her symptoms are exactly like mine. Sometimes I can't even shut off the alarm clock because my hand is just completely numb. Most times though, I am awakened by the numbness and/or pain well before the alarm.
    I was diagnosed with several deteriorating discs many years ago, and the symptoms wax and wane, but almost always manifest themselves at night. All it takes is certain positioning to compress the nerve.

    I'd get a second opinion on the neck vertebrae...
     
  5. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    I had something similar last winter, although it was my leg affected. Basically I injured my back and a bulging disc was impinging on the nerve root to my leg. Even though I started to feel better during the day after a week or two, it would become nearly unbearable during the night as I tried to sleep. I'd wake up with exruciating pain from the numbing/tingling sensation in my leg. My orthopedist explained that during the night, the intervertebral discs absorb fluid that is lost during the day. They tend to increase in size and can come into contact with other nerve endings. After a few months of physical therapy, as my back healed I was finally able to get through a comfortable night's sleep.
     
  6. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    I get the same symptoms every now and then. It's been going on for many years now. I wake up and my hands are very numb and tingly. I really don't think it's carpal tunnel, so I've never bothered to have it looked at.

    From what I've observed, it feels like it starts in my shoulder area and travels down my arm into my hands. It could be stress or back related. When my neck and shoulder muscles are strained from stress pain, I can feel the numbness go down my arms. I do tend to notice that my hand numbness has a connection with my stress levels.

    Since my stress is all in my neck and shoulders, sleeping incorrectly (i.e. bad neck alignment on my pillow) is probably making things worse, which is why the numbness is worse in the morning.
     
  7. Marianne

    Marianne Supporting Actor

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    Tingling in the hands and feet can be one of the symptoms of menopause and can start in the years leading up to actual meopause.

    These symptoms can also be related to Type 2 Diabetes.
     
  8. andrew markworthy

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    Many thanks for these replies, folks and sincere apologies for the delay in replying (the phone line to my house was sick). I shall look into these suggestions.
     
  9. Marianne

    Marianne Supporting Actor

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  10. Shoaib Lateef

    Shoaib Lateef Second Unit

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    1) It is not peripheral neuropathy caused by Diabetes Mellitus...first, she doesn't have diabetes, and secondly that would not only be nocturnal.

    2) It sounds like nerve impingement to me. This can happen anywhere from the brachial plexus (in the shoulder/upper arm), the elbow, or the wrist. Has she had an MRI of the brachial plexus? How about an EMG/NCV (electromyogram/nerve conduction velocity) of her arms/shoulders?
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Could she be sleeping so that her shoulder or forearm is pinched? Last summer a few times I woke up in the morning with a number or tingling hand. I determined it was from sleeping with my shoulder positioned such that I was either stifling circulation or pinching a nerve. But I don't think I was sleeping on the hand; the upper arm / shoulder was the real cause.
    I saw the doctor about it; the tingling could last all day. They gave me an wrist-brace to wear at night if the problem persisted or recurred.

    Had it continued, they said nerve tests might be an option.
     
  12. Marianne

    Marianne Supporting Actor

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    Quote: "Symptom 30 (tingling in extremities) can also be a symptom of B-12 deficiency, diabetes, alterations in the flexibility of blood vessels, or a depletion of potassium or calcium."
     
  13. Thi Them

    Thi Them Producer

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    I started having numbness in my hand about two months ago. I would wake up at night more than once with the numbness in my pinky and ring finger on my left hand. This happened almost every night. Went to see a chiro and he thinks my ulnar nerve is being pinched in my neck or elbow. The frequency and intensity has died down since I've been seeing the chiro.

    ~T
     
  14. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Sorry, didn't see this thread earlier. And I don't have an answer either. Also, I assume that the most-easy-to-detect causes have been ruled out already.

    The fact that it's only at nights and only her hands, suggest that it's not related to a generalized condition, unless it's a combination of a generalized condition (e.g. diabetes or occasional low blood pressure and something else, like mild arthritis in both wrists - after all she is a secretary).

    The fact that it's (almost?) always both hands, as you describe, seems to rule out a shoulder, or laying uncomfortably on one side. So the suspicion goes to a higher site, possibly her neck region, perhaps combined with an occasional specific posture of the neck/head during her sleep.

    One also tends to associate her profession (and any fear of not being able to function properly) with the specific location of the symptoms. Does she (or anyone else) know if she happens to occasionally clench her fists during sleep?


    Cees
     

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