Rowing: Numb Fingers and Hands - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-15-2014   #1
 
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,105
Rowing: Numb Fingers and Hands

Each year the issue seems to get a little worse. About a week after a multi day oar trip I get numb fingers and even my entire hand. Its inconsistent how long it lasts (hours per day) and how often it hits. That said, it is normally multiple times a day, lasts from one to multiple hours each time, and last from 1-5 weeks.

Anybody experience something similar? Any prevention or rehabilitation that seems to work?

My wife has injuries from playing the flute for the orchestra and has a few tools that I am starting to try. Will be curious to see if they help (flexed and grip master). Guessing there is a nerve either damaged by abuse or even pinched by a muscle. All kinda new to me as the only acute issue I experienced in the past was sciatica from paddling on Lake Powell.

Thanks for any advice or clues. Likely gonna head to the chiropractor and see if they can adjust my hand. That said they never seem to be to keen on giving me exercises to prevent and cope with it.

Phllip

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Old 11-15-2014   #2
 
Jackson, Wyoming
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 301
I would suspect something similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, only instead of long term narrowing of the tunnel where the nerve passes through, it is more related to short term inflammation in that area causing pressure on the nerve. Getting old sucks.


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Old 11-15-2014   #3
 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 130
Go get it checked out, if you can manage to reproduce the symptoms so a doc can evaluate while you're symptomatic. I was a computer geek for years and never had trouble, but then in semi-retirement, when cutting firewood during the day and climbing a lot too, carpal tunnel flared up. Neurologist used "nerve conductance testing" to confirm carpal tunnel. He had me buy a brace ($20 at drugstore) and wear it at night and it cleared right up. On recent rowing trip (my first), I started feeling a little numbness, but I wore the brace at night and it never really became a problem. So maybe try one of these braces on your next trip. They come from store actually bending your hand backwards a little, so maybe bend it (as neurologist recommended when it wasn't working for me at first) so your wrist is straighter. Good luck !
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Old 11-15-2014   #4
 
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Yeah, I need to find a doc I can call with rather short notice to test and evaluate (assuming it keeps up, which seems likely). Unfortunately, my GP and its office lacks the curiosity and interest in these types of issues. They throw meds at things but don't invest in long term care.

I currently have an Internalist who I see 1-2 times a year for ongoing healthcare and evaluation (an odd multi-year health problem that has no current diagnosis) that I can chat with next time. I already have neurological problems but so far they had been limited to vision and smell. Will see what she thinks when I see her next. Hopefully this is caused by a behavior and not tied into my other problems.

And yes...getting "old" sucks. Health changed radically for me at 30 years old which is way to young but you learn to be humbled and adapt. Only 35 now and not trying to allow myself to feel and act old as I am rather young. Some days are easier than others.

Phillip
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Old 11-15-2014   #5
 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Yeah, unfortunately most docs these days are legalized drug dealers; largely the insurance companies' fault I believe (not allowing the doctors time to care).

I'd probably start with a sports med guy, then maybe a neurologist.

Re. feeling and acting old, or not, this is interesting:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/ma...html?alg=4FK6W
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Old 11-15-2014   #6
 
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Sandy, Utah
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+1 on the sports medicine doctor. That's who I see for functional problems. I'm lucky, my sports med doctor is the husband of the friend who got me into river rafting years ago. He has a good understanding of the issues that affect rafters and paddlers. My first thought with your symptoms was carpal tunnel like jge1 describes. Do you ever get these symptoms with kayak paddling? Trying a wrist brace at night is a quick and inexpensive solution to try out. I have suffered with mild carpal tunnel a few times and the brace helped a lot.
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Old 11-15-2014   #7
 
Jackson, Wyoming
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When you expect it to happen, night bracing, icing and some ibuprofen can reduce the inflammation and hopefully limit symptoms. If you have other neuro-related issues, definitely let whoever is caring for that know. Most any orthopedic group worth their salt with have someone who specializes in hand and wrist issues, who will almost certainly do nerve conduction tests for CTS- ask about it when scheduling. Procedure itself is simple and gives immediate results. Best of luck getting this sorted out.
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Old 11-15-2014   #8
 
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Bozeman, Montana
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Lift weights. Seriously. Strength training is super under utilized and a little can go a long ways. I am not saying you have to go try and bulk up but training with weights may change your attitude towards growing old. It is after all your best option. I would bet that with a good strength training regiment those problems will not appear. I know this advice sounds of BS but it has helped me a great deal.


Jim
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Old 11-15-2014   #9
 
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Thanks everyone.

Will look into local options a bit more, especially sports medicine or an orthopedic specialist. My wife has dealt with some folks so I have a place to start.

cataraftgirl: Can't remember if I experienced it with paddling as its been several years since I have spent considerable time in a sea kayak. Need to ask my wife if she has a wrist brace I can try as that would be an easy intermediate solution.

Current/historic issues are permanent damage and "should not" be progressive. I lost the vast majority of my peripheral vision between 2009-2012 from a rare disorder called ANION. Significant changes in smell haven't been tied into anything. Headaches and migraines are common enough for me but also experienced a month of crippling "nummular" headaches last winter. At this point all of these are being observed and watched annually/semi-annually as part of a larger constellation of health problems that have not found a diagnostic home since they started in 2009. I have some awesome parting gifts in the form of brain and optic imaging that are pretty awesome at least.

The above is not likely related but one never knows with neurology (and neurological ischemia episodes like I experienced). Difficult not to keep them in the back of my mind and be vigilant considering the broader implications.

jge1: One of the things I love about my Internalist is that she obviously focused on diagnosis but helps me remember not to define my life on it. Haven't finished the article but enjoying it so far.

Phillip
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Old 11-15-2014   #10
 
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sembob View Post
Lift weights. Seriously. Strength training is super under utilized and a little can go a long ways. I am not saying you have to go try and bulk up but training with weights may change your attitude towards growing old. It is after all your best option. I would bet that with a good strength training regiment those problems will not appear. I know this advice sounds of BS but it has helped me a great deal.


Jim
Don't see any BS there. I need to learn to train ahead of time to prepare for river trips anyway so its not such a sudden shock to my system. Also could benefit from stretching and flexibility which is tied to aging as well.

All fair enough recommendations.

Phillip
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