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Old 11-17-2014   #21
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
I had developed elbow tendonitis that had become bad enough to start affecting my ability to work. I had a local doctor who prescribed ibu, ice, and a cute little support brace for the issue, which did nothing to get me back to work. He addressed the symptom of pain, but didn't even come close to identifying the underlying issue. It was incredibly disappointing.

I was referred to a chiropractor who immediately knew what was up and started treating the malady with graston (grafton?) knives, since he knew that my years/decades of abuse did a lot of damage to those muscles. So he broke down the tissue to the point of literally injuring those already damaged muscles with the intent to encourage more blood flow to the area and thus more healing. He followed these knife sessions with a short ultrasound session, and he even added one acupuncture session in as well. My issue was completely cleared up in 10 treatments. This was 5-6 years ago and I've suffered no setbacks and have had no problems working or playing since.

So I now have a greater appreciation for an eastern-based strategy for addressing health issues whenever possible. The western doctors tend to get you out of the office asap since their patient loads are beyond full, the eastern based practitioners tend to have a more holistic approach. Funny thing is health insurance paid for a useless western doc visit, and refused to pay for a treatment that actually worked. But that discussion is for another thread...

Not sure this addressed the specific issue of your numbness, but my lack of faith in the western medical system (I am terrified of ever having to go to our hospital!) leads me to direct you to the more proactive process of eastern-based medicine.

Good luck!

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Old 11-20-2014   #22
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
Hey Phillip. I can agree with many things that have been said. All need to be checked out and evaluated. I have had strange pains and aches in my arms and wrists from many things. In my case the problem is usually in my neck and shoulders and the pains are just referral. In this case I have had it treated with acupuncture and light chiropractic. I'm not a fan of having my neck "cracked", but things need to be in alignment to work correctly. I also have one of those neck traction devices that I've used when I feel things going wrong. The real cure is addressing postural problems and core strength for me. Good luck!

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Old 11-24-2014   #23
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
So Schutzie has (again) been off dealing with pesky work, and joins (again) the party late.

Indeed, what you are experiencing sounds like a knotted muscle under/around your shoulder blade.

I used to get this when I rowed, until a wit pointed out that I tended to hunch my shoulders when rowing, and I was pulling with my shoulder/arms, rather than my back/legs.

Correcting my technique helped, and begging back/neck massages from anyone in the party helped.

My daughter is a sports massage therapist and I just asked her; she said indeed, sounds like a #^(*^GH)^ muscle tensing against the %&()_ nerve (she's smarter than me, and knows the names of these things).

She said the obvious answer is to take a massage therapist with you on all long trips (strong hint; she wants/needs to see the Grand Canyon from the bottom and is a willing rookie swamper).

Failing that, you need to roll/apply pressure to the muscle group adjacent to/under your shoulder blade and to the shoulder muscles along the neck and upper back.

She thought the tennis ball idea was unworkable but suggested that a smooth stick or pipe about 3' long (yes it has a name, and no, I forgot what she said it is called) might work for self therapy for those unsociable or smelly enough to fail when begging massage from fellow river rats.
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Old 11-24-2014   #24
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 130
Originally Posted by Schutzie View Post
She thought the tennis ball idea was unworkable but suggested that a smooth stick or pipe about 3' long (yes it has a name, and no, I forgot what she said it is called) might work for self therapy for those unsociable or smelly enough to fail when begging massage from fellow river rats.
The tennis or lacrosse ball DOES work - sorry to gainsay her - but of course a skilled massage therapist is better.

The stick is called a Thera Cane and is also great. Good gift idea too !
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Old 11-24-2014   #25
smiley_n_mt's Avatar
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 5
+1 and two thumbs up for Thera-cane!
(had one along on the last 24 day GCNP adventure and the fifty somethings passed it around like a playing card)
-smiley in Missoula
No trees were harmed in sending this message, however, a rather large number of electrons were somewhat inconvenienced.
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Old 11-25-2014   #26
gringoanthony's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 115
Another possible culprit to consider:

Cubital and Radial Tunnel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

I had a similar experience this summer.

Prior to this summer I never experienced anything more than relatively minor symptoms (similar to yours) in the morning, which I erroneously attributed to sleeping on my arm, because the symptoms went away after a little while.

Then I got stung on the upper arm by a YJ at the put in on a week long trip this summer. Long story short--my entire arm swelled up and I experienced numbness and pain throughout the trip. During the day my fingers and hands oscillated between ok and completely numb. This happened in seemingly randomly varying degrees of numbness and varying ratios between my hands and fingers and sometimes forearm. Nighttime was the worst. The pain was so severe that I could only sleep for a few minutes at a time and only when I was laying flat on my back with my arm completely straight along my side. Any deviation from this and I immediately woke up in pain. Needless to say, that week entailed the least amount sleep I've ever had in my life.

Saw an internist and allergist when I got home. Both told me the nerve passing through my elbow was compressed (see above link). And the swelling in my elbow from the YJ sting just exacerbated it to such a severe level. Internist told me it should eventually go away, which it did within about a month. And he said I just need to exercise more. Which I have been doing (sorry, nothing specific). He said if the problem keeps coming back, then it's time to consider other treatments. Fortunately, the exercise has been working and I haven't had any symptoms since. Even in the morning.

Anyway, If I hadn't been stung on the arm, I may have never even realized that I had a problem in my elbow. Like many others, my initial assumption was that my problems were related to my wrist.

Good luck finding a solution!
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Old 12-04-2014   #27
Anchorage, Alaska
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 56
Massage Therapist

As I've aged I too had wrist issues. I've been a gym rat all my life and lift regularly but still experienced the pain/numbness/loss of strength on a regular basis. Then I started seeing (about 5 years ago) a massage therapist that specializes in deep muscle massage for athletes. Made all the difference.

The massage always helps but as others have said the problem was my elbow not my wrist. A good MT will not only deal with your symptoms but help you understand the inter-relationship of your muscles and make recommendations for modification to your exercise regimen. It's not always easy to find the "right" massage therapy - helps if you know someone - for example if you have a local running store I'll bet some of their staff/clients can give you a steer.

Between exercise, ice, ibuprofen and regular massage my symptoms have disappeared - even on a recent 21 day trip through the GC. Good luck.
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Old 07-29-2016   #28
DENVER, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 1
I am resurrecting this thread as I am having this same issue now as others have had in the past.

Towards the third day of rafting last week I got really tense in my middle to upper back. The next day my hands started to go numb on me. I woke up in a bit of pain in my hands, and continued to row for a fourth day. That night, when back in town my hands were in terrible pain. That was this past Monday night / Tuesday morning. Ever since my hands have been mostly numb and feel like they just came out of a bad pair of cold ski gloves for the day.

I have since done a 90 minute deep tissue massage, which was not a ton of help. I'm pretty sure I have pinched a nerve (or two in both arms - not sure.) I am hoping this gets better soon as it is terribly annoying and not normal.

I do think a lot of it had to do with renting a rig this year that was setup wrong for me. The oars were too far wide when I got it and on the oars. Meaning I had to do a lot of extra upper body work to row. The foot rest was a little too far for me as well. Again, meaning I was oaring with my upper body and not as much with my lower body.

By the fourth day I had the rig setup pretty well, but I think it had been too late. I have been off the water for 4 days now, but hands are still numb and not feeling the best. I can use my hands for the most part, but can't really feel things very well.

If I had to guess how much affected (100% being full feeling, 0% meaning I can't feel anything), I would say I have 75% of feeling in my thumbs, 30% feeling in my index fingers, 30% middle fingers, 70% ring fingers and 90% in my pinkies. My hands never got numb or had any pain above my wrists, so never felt anything in my writs, arms or elsewhere.

I will update later as things progress as this is extremely annoying and I'm not the only person this has happened to.
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Old 07-29-2016   #29
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
Rabies - You need to get that looked at! I mentioned before that in my experience these kinds of pains are often just referral from pinched nerves in your neck and shoulder. All the nerves to your hands - and that is a lot of nerves run through a very tight spot. I think you should have some alignment done in your neck - a bit a traction - and then acupuncture. Everything needs to move freely and then the soft tissues need to relax so you can heal. Find a guy who does both chiro and Accu . Good luck
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Old 08-01-2016   #30
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
From your description it sounds like you were not only using your upper body improperly, but had your arms spread farther than you normally do. This combination would surely inflame your upper and middle back, in particular around your shoulder blades. Rest, massage, have it checked out. The numbness should have gone away by now.
And when the rowing pit is out of whack, fix it before the third day next time, or suffer a repeat.

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