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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Message Board
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Old 12-21-2004, 04:58 PM   #1
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pat52 HB User
Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

Getting several different opinions from doctors. Neurologist states -I could put off surgery if I wear a splint and take Motrin etc.. However surgeon indicated the nerve is "flatten" on left palm (thumb area) and the longer I wait-the damage may not be able to be repaired. I have extreme pain in the wrist /elbow/ upper arm and shoulder-which my primary doctor said is caused by the ulna nerve. I wake up at night with both hands / arms numb. But the left arm is the one with terrible pain-flare-ups on a scale 1-10 -I say 8-9. Massaging the thumb area and taking aspirins seem to help the relieve the pain. Also sitting with my fingers "pulled in" than extended seems to help releive the pain. Anyone have carpal tunnel with significant damage to the ulna nerve? I have heard going to a Chiropractor has helped some prevent surgery. Is the surgery dangerous? Surgeon said the surgery itself takes only about 15 minutes. Usually a two week period of wearing a bandage that can not get wet. Should within 3 weeks be able to use the hand without difficulty but must not lift heavy objects. Any info-greatly appreciated.

 
Old 12-22-2004, 01:34 PM   #2
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lidia09 HB User
Cool Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

Hi Pat
The information you've received sounds a bit confusing. In Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) the nerve affected is the median. It runs down your arm & into your thumb, index, middle & part of your ring finger. In CTS the nerve is usually trapped at the wrist. In Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (CuTS) the ulnar nerve is affected. This one serves part of your ring finger & pinky. In CuTS it usually gets trapped at the elbow.

If the doctor is saying that your problems are due to your ulnar nerve, I'd have thought it more likely they'd want to release the nerve at the elbow.

Have you had any electrical testing done? They're called Nerve Conduction Studies & can pinpoint exactly where your trouble is originating from.

Have you tried ibuprofen for the pain? It might be more effective than aspirin as it has an anti-inflammatory effect.

CTS surgery is usually reasonably successful, however if you read too much on these type of boards you'll find people relating horror stories. I had both hands done a number of years ago & don't regret it one bit. I have CuTS now though but am not rushing into surgery as the success rate isn't nearly as good as with CTS & it can be a bit more complex.

Reckon you'd be best to gather as much info as you can from the doctors & clarify which nerve is causing you trouble or if it's both. Weigh up all the pros & cons before having surgery. Some people do have success with other methods like splints, massage, exercises etc.

Good luck.

Lidia

 
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Old 12-22-2004, 04:15 PM   #3
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pat52 HB User
Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

thanks-Lidia for the info. Yes I did have an EMG and nerve conduction test. The test did indicate carpal tunnel and "significant ulnar nerve" damage. The Orthopedic surgeon stated about 20% of people with Carpal tunnel also have the ulnar nerve damaged. He stated that the surgery should help both. I have extreme pain from the neck /shoulder / down to the wrist. My pinkie and ring finger go numb from time to time. Also My whole arm will-I wake up at nightnwith both arms asleep and at times my left (the worse) wrist feels like my watch is too tight although I'm not wearing one.
I've tried the splint /brace but the surgeon stated if I waited too long the damage will be harder to repair. I am considering setting up for the surgery next week. My insurance changes the end of the month and I'll be on my husbands. Afraid his insurance may not cover it. Right now not sure if it will be a workman's comp claim or not. Thanks for your input- Appreciate it !

Last edited by pat52; 12-22-2004 at 04:16 PM.

 
Old 12-30-2004, 12:43 AM   #4
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Phil H2 HB User
Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

Hi Pat,

I know a little about your condition because I too have problems with an ulnar nerve. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is when the median nerve is compressed as it passses through a portion of the wrist called the carpal tunnel which is formed by some bones in the wrist and a ligiment. The ulnar nerve passes through a different area of the wrist. At the wrist, the ulnar nerve can be compressed in the ulnar tunnel which is also called Guyon's canal. A more common site for the ulnar nerve to be compressed is in the cubital tunnel which is at the elbow. When you hit the funny bone you are hitting the ulnar nerve.

I believe that carpal tunnel surgery involves cutting the transverse carpal ligiment to relieve the pressure on the nerve. I had never heard that this could also relieve pressure on the ulnar nerve. Are you certain the doctor only wants to perform surgery on the carpal tunnel? Sometimes it is advantageous to have two surgeries performed at the same time so you only have one period of recovery. Have you talked to your primary doctor or the neurologist to see what they think about the surgery that the orthopaedic surgeon recommends.

I never had CTS so I do not know too much about the recovery from the surgery. I do know that it a fairly common surgery and many people have good success. Some doctors do endoscopic surgery and some make an incision in the palm or from the palm to the wrist. I have not heard if one method was any better than the other.

By the way. When the doctor performed the nerve conduction study, he/she should have been able to tell where the ulnar nerve was compressed. Problems can occur in different areas as the nerves travel down from the cervical spine (neck).

I had surgery on the cubital tunnel and did not have the best results, but many people have had good luck with this elbow surgery. But since I had the surgery, I had another emg/ncs that showed problems at the guyon's canal and still some problems at the cubital tunnel which my surgeon attributes to scar tissue from the first surgery and he says that he can reoperate to remove.

 
Old 12-31-2004, 09:58 AM   #5
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Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

I am having terrible problems with what was just diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. I am becoming quite depressed and upset because I am unable to afford surgery or even the splint at this point because of no insurance. I am in chronic pain from my hands constantly being numb or tingling to my elbows, forearms, shoulders and neck hurting. I desperately need my strength for my life and I am so upset. What can I do? Also, when I try to lie down at night, the pain is terrible. I cannot find a position that my hands are not numb. In fact, when I am standing or sitting it is better because one of the few positions they feel fine in is elbows at waist level, tunred in with my fingers slightly curled in. As soon as I try to lie down, it almost feels like all the blood rushes away form or to my lower arms and hands, like a weight. Why is this? Please help. I have a family and am a strong person but this chronic pain stuff is utterly depressing.
Thanks.

 
Old 01-05-2005, 07:56 PM   #6
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Cool Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

Just letting ya'll know that I have had the carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve surgery at the same time. The doc said it wouldn't take but about an hour and a half, well, it turned out to be a 4 & a half hour surgery!! The carpal tunnel went pretty well, it was the ulnar nerve that was the problem! Doc said that if I had had the surgery done sooner, I may not have had the nerve damage that I now do. Also, it's not a guaranteed fix! My arm still gives me alota problems. I worked in production for 10 years and one morning I woke up and couldn't lift my head up off the pillow! Went to the doc and he said I have a ruptured cervical disc in C 4-5 and one bulging in C5-6 that on top of the ulnar nerve problem and carpal tunnel. So instead of work comp agreeing to pay, they waited a year before they would agree that it was work related, so now I have a lawyer because of their stupidity, I have a permanent 25% loss in my arm! Also, have permanent restrictions of no repetitive flexion or extension of both my arms! So my place of employment could have just let me go because that's pretty much all there is to do there is production. But I guess they thought better,(because of my lawyer, I suspect) I now have an office job. I don't make as much money as I used to on production, making around 7,000 less a year, so my lawyer is suing for loss wages also! I'm so fed up with w/c, but let me give everyone here some advice, don't let them by with anything! Make them pay!! My case is about to come to an end, after 5 long years of suffering and my suffering is not over! I've got to live the rest of my life in pain and it doesn't get any better.....Anyway, sorry this post is so long, I just had to vent about w/c and their stupidity!! Take care Reese and the rest of the gang that posted. I know exactly what ya'll are going through! Don't ya'll just love these boards??? They are so helpful for venting what's on our minds.....lol.......Gotta go,
In Christ, Konnie

 
Old 01-05-2005, 09:03 PM   #7
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NancyH HB User
Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

I've had a total of 7 surgeries on the hands, the last one was 2003 on the left, carpal and ulnar nerve release at the wrist, what was to be a hour surgery turned into 4.5 hrs. Dr said he spent 3 of those hours just removing scar tissue and in the process he nicked the ulnar nerve that was hidden under all the tissue, it was not in the place it should have been. Needless to say w/c had dragged this one on long enough to have permanent damage that the Dr couldn't even fix. I am now on a pension because of the limited ability I have with both hands and arthritis that set in. I do have other medical conditions that affect the nerves as well. I worked 20 yrs typing for 8 to 10 hrs a day, now I can't type more than 10 minutes at a time without resting the hands a hour or so. I also have ulnar lesions in both hands, radial nerve damage as well, probably what hurts worst is the stupid THUMBS, at times I can't even move them they get so stiff and painful. The reason w/c took so long on that one is because I do have bulging disc C2 through C5 and a herniated one as well as severe arthritis and they were blaming the hand problem on the neck for a long time, tho the neck certainly contributed t the pain it was not where it started and it took 2 surgeons to prove it to w/c. Well, I know I have to live with this pain, I don't let it get me too down, I still walk everyday at least 2 miles but I can never do anything to strengthen my upper body again unless I can do it without using my hands LOL.
c

 
Old 02-15-2005, 03:51 PM   #8
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lotusgdess HB User
Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

Quote:
Originally Posted by reese7673
I am having terrible problems with what was just diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. I am becoming quite depressed and upset because I am unable to afford surgery or even the splint at this point because of no insurance. I am in chronic pain from my hands constantly being numb or tingling to my elbows, forearms, shoulders and neck hurting. I desperately need my strength for my life and I am so upset. What can I do? Also, when I try to lie down at night, the pain is terrible. I cannot find a position that my hands are not numb. In fact, when I am standing or sitting it is better because one of the few positions they feel fine in is elbows at waist level, tunred in with my fingers slightly curled in. As soon as I try to lie down, it almost feels like all the blood rushes away form or to my lower arms and hands, like a weight. Why is this? Please help. I have a family and am a strong person but this chronic pain stuff is utterly depressing.
Thanks.
Reese: I REALLY feel for you. This condition just saps your strength. You must find a way to get surgery. It will definitely give you relief. It's impossible to live life in chronic debilitating pain. Are you not covered by something similar to MediCal or some kind of public assistance that would help pay for it?

 
Old 02-16-2005, 12:07 AM   #9
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bluiidmngr HB User
Re: Carpal Tunnel witih significant ulna nerve damage

Hello. I have carpal tunnel(median nerve) and cubital tunnel (ulnar nerve) - same arm(side). I have been in comp court for the last 1 1/2 years. I won, they appealed and I just found out I won the appeal. Back to your problem. My ortho said he would do wrist (median nerve) surgery first. He said that may clear up the ulnar nerve. If it doesn't he said he would have to then go in my elbow and move my nerve to the other side of my elbow. Good luck.

 
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