Monday, January 5, 2009

About 7 weeks post op

Grip strength: 100 left, 150 right

The last doctors appointment two and a half weeks ago I didn't post anything on. The doctor said my symptoms were not typical, and you would think that the surgery corrected the issue and shouldn't feel additional tingling when I do activities like type on the computer or lightly use my arm. He thought maybe it was just my body saying "you are doing too much" and to give it another month or two.

I spent the last two weeks in PA. When back there I didn't use my arm much. I used it on the computer with no problems. I did some painting with it back East utilizing the arm lightly and had no problems. I came back to CA and used the arm a little bit more and bam. Today my hand felt worse and fingers tingly again.

So.. 7 weeks and still tingling. This tingling is not what I felt before surgery.. it is worse.. err should I say different. I didn't really feel specific pins and needles, that was rare, more numbness, lack of sensation and an irritated feeling. So.. I have to be careful with the arm. I was going to try to get the other arm operated on quickly.. but its best to wait and see outcome.. although I feel confident (hopeful) this will resolve itself.


Anonymous said...


I had surgery on my right arm on 8/8/08 with no problems. I did the left on 9/26/08 and the day after my surgery I started to feel a weird senation in that area. I have all kinds of words to describe it ranging from a tingle to a dull ache to a crawling sensation. It comes and goes. Again, it's oly in the left arm. If it was in both, I wouldn't ave notced it and would have thought it was part of the normal healing process. SInce it is just one arm I feel like something is wrong...

As background I should share that my symptoms prior to surgery were numbness in the pinky and ring finger when I hyperflexed my arms when I slept. I also had atrophy in my arm muscles (interior of forearm up near elbow where ulnar nerve comes out of elbow.) Other than that I had no other real symptoms to speak of. I basically had the surgery because I did not want to change my sleeping habits and because I knew that the problem was progressive, meaning that I was doing damage to the nerve and that it was going to get worse if I didn't get it fixed.

I was already seeing a neurologist because I previously had surgery on both hands for carpel tunnel and have migraines. So, he was doing regular EMG's already. I never really said anything to him about my fingers falling asleep at night because I thought that was normal when you had them bent that much for that long. He was the one who noticed the atrophy in my arms. In combination with the EMG test results, he said something one day and recommended I have surgery to both arms. I was like, what for? And then he pointed out my arms and asked me about numbness when I slept. I confirmed that I was experiencing that and that's how I found out. (duh..)

Anyway, for the past several months I have been worried about the sensations in my left arm. I also feel like my left arm has atrophied more since the surgery. I can't tell if it's my imagination or not, and I am pretty good about these things. Beyond that, I have no problems bending my arms at night. No numbness at all - so that part is fixed. As far as othe new symptoms... I do experience some numbness when I go from really cold temperatures to warm ones (shoveling snow without gloves into a warm house) or gripping a shopping cart and pushing it over a tiled floor (vibration). In these cases I have a tingling in both hands, in all five digits. I attribute this to normal healing and am not really worried about it. I have read that it's just part of the nerves reawakening and relearning their job as they regrow.

But the the left arm sensations, thats got me worried... So, for weeks I have been looking at different related sites and have reviewed other blogs and other people's comments, trying to find info specific to the phantom pain I have on the inside of my left forearm. I have come across some info on people who have had the surgery and who have experienced "pain" and werid sensations, but nothing that really describes the location. To that end, it's fairly common. I get the feeling the weird sensations they are talking about are in their hands.

I also found some literature that describes this. In some cases it says it's part of the nomal healing process. In other cases it describes the possibility of serious damage caused to the nerve during the surgery itself. This worries me, especialy since I feel like I am seeing additional atrophy in that area.

I will be having my first EMG since the surgery tomorrow, 1/12/09 and I'll find out if there is still an entrampment or if there is improvement.

What about you? Any pain like I am describing and if so, where is it located? How about muscle atrophy?

I'll check back.



Anonymous said...


So now I've read through your entir blog and I see that sometime in December you got a weird sensation in your foream about 5inches above your wrist...

I think that's what I have. D you still have it? Mine comes and goes, like what other people's said theirs did. Lots of ways to describe it: It is a dull ache, a crawling sensation, sometimes a very slight tingle. Almost like a phantom pain. Imagine if the nerves were trying to send a singnal through but culdn't because they hadn't grown yet and were stopped and bottle necking up. That is the dull ache sensation.

When I read in the literature that the nerves have been shut down for so long because of the compression and entrampment and that they are reawakening and that these are the feelings associated with it, that made me feel better. Like I said, I had read other things that described new problems like a NEW kink in the nerve left as a esult of the surgery...

Sounds ike you have had similar sensations. Let me know with a post.


Adam Tuliper said...

my nerves had been aggravated for several years now and in my case they didn't seem to be getting worse.. it just didn't go away. The sensation in the middle of the arm is now gone, however the fingers do get tingly. The axonal flow in the nerve can take a year to reach the end of your fingers, all the while you can feel symptoms (from what i understand). Nerves are weird. Every person seems to feel different things. My symptoms were 'not typical' as I was told after surgery... but am just giving it time. The doc said eventhough they baby the nerve during surgery you still wake up with more tingling etc and they are very careful with it, so it is a sensitive thing.

as far as atrophy.. in the arm or hand? cubital tunnel atrophy I believe usually shows itself in the muscles of the hand eventually leading to ulnar claw with enough damage. It would be interesting to see what the EMG now says. I _believe_ with the EMG they should be able to see the damage moving down the arm if that is the case, and the original spot getting better.

my first doc was very quick to recommend surgery. I did worry about nerve damage but since it wasn't getting worse and very manageable I waited it out. The second doc was more hesitant.. especially since my first surgery for in situ decompression didnt work.

let me know how emg turns out for ya.. best of luck.

Anonymous said...


I had the emg last week and it said that everythihng was great (no compression anywhere along the nerve path) in either arm.

In the mean time, I had previously been given a script for 30 days of lyrica to take immediately after each surgery to calm the nerves. I never filled either script. I had previously been on lyrica for migraine therapy so am familiar with the drug. Anyway, I decided to go ahead and fill it and within two days of taking it, the "crawling" symptoms within my left forearm went away. No weird sensations anymore. I suspect that as soon as the script runs out they will be back. The doctor said that the sensations I am feeling are probably re-nervation, just everything regrowing and waking up. So at least I know and feel bette about it. I was afraid that there was some long term damage or something new was wrong.

The atrophy is in my forearm, not my hand. That was the weird part becaise everything I read was about atrophy in the area ar9ound the thumb. I have excellent hand and finger strength.

The doctor said that if I try to isolate and exercise the muscles in the inside of my forearm (which is kind of hard to do), I should be able to build them back up over time. The less dominant arm is supposedly always a little smaller, but I never reallly noticed it before. Now it seems really magnified but I think because of the weird sensations I was looking at it through a magnifying glass....

Hope you are doing well.


Adam Tuliper said...

good to hear EMG looks good. for the forearm exercises, lay your arm flat on your leg, bench, etc with the back of your arm touching along your leg, bench,etc. With your hand hangling freely, do wrist curls, those help inside forearm muscles. however.. be very careful on the amount of weight you do.. and keep it perfectly straight. I messed up my TFC a bunch of years back. one way to help avoid this is use a bar and curl both wrists at the same time (for one arm I was doing about 45 lbs or so in the wrist.. so any movement to the side can stress the tfc too much. Much less weight more reps would have been the way to go in hindsight, but I had been doing them for so long without any problem I took it for granted).

whats the tfc?

Kelley said...


I noticed and read a fair amount of your blog.. I was in a car accident in Jan. 2009 and my doctor is recommending that my ulnar nerve be moved as a result from injury in the accident. Right now I basically don't have use of my left (and dominant) hand, so I figure surgery could only be an improvement eh? I've tried Lyrica and physical therapy... with you having had the surgery do you think it's worth it? What can I expect? I guess I'm just way nervous to go, "under the knife"... and the image results on Google search don't help! :)
Thanks! I'll check back.

Adam Tuliper said...

I would definitely listen to your doctor in a case like that. I wold imagine you either would have no change or a positive change if you've already lost use of the hand. Severe nerve injury is not something to waste time on, that much I know. in _my_ situation.. the surgery was not bad and am actually looking forward to just getting my other arm done now as well... although Im definitely in a different situation than you. Best wishes with everything, just remember nerves can take a long time to heal too so hang in there : )