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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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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+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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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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Earlier on I had issues with numbness while rowing and found a few things that helped me:
  • Avoid tightly gripping the oar
  • Change the contact point of oar and palm preiodically
  • Strengthen the wrist / forearm - I carry one of those spring loaded hand grip strengtheners in the rig and use it frequently while driving
Good luck.
 

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I had this problem when I was guiding paddle trips 6-7 days per week this summer. My wife is trained as a massage therapist and she focused on the knot that develops by my scapula on the affected side. It helped tremendously! I even felt sensation "rush" back into my numb hand during a session.

You might try chiroperatic and massage. If you smoke or eat poorly consider changing those habits to improve circulation too...
 

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I believe Randaddy may have nailed it. Circulation seems more probable to me than carpel tunnel issues. I don't see how rowing could cause those kind of problems. Lifestyle issues are very often at the root of these ailments. None of this may be the case with you Phillip but I bet if you did some work with weights and some yoga that numbness would go away. P90x is a great at home work out. Most of the strength training uses body weight and Dumbbells or bands and there is very good yoga and stretching involved. The yoga is very challenging.
It just seems to me that rowing is the opposite of what would cause tendinitis or carpel tunnel. Rowing seems to make most of my issues go away.


Jim
 

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Numbness in your thumb and first two fingers is carpal- the braces give some relief and are worth a try. Stretch by pushing your fingers back toward the top of your wrist.

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My wife is trained as a massage therapist and she focused on the knot that develops by my scapula on the affected side...
Duh, yes, I should have mentioned this. After returning from rowing my first trip ever - way more rowing than I've ever done, 103 miles on slow water in 8 days, as opposed to maybe 10 miles a couple of days in the Grand - I noticed a knotted muscle area in my upper back on one side, and started noticing some tingling and a little numbness in my hand. I got a massage and the condition is way improved. I think massage is your answer ! And more conditioning before future trips.
 

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I've had tendonitis in my wrist which caused similar symptoms. My hand also wanted to stay clenched and was hard to open. NSAIDS and rest, plus time and it goes away....

I also had a problem with thoracic outlet syndrome during a prior lifetime when I was a violist. Basically raising my arm reduced bloodflow to my hand. Numbness, tingling, weakness, and a very cold and unresponsive hand. Also had reduced nerve conduction. Stretching exercises and changing posture helped considerably, but it took months for me to get a functional hand back. Sounds like you may be suffering something similar and if so, lowering your oars and stretching the shoulder/upper back will help. You want your hands below your shoulders at all times if this is your issue.

jp
 

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I have struggled with numb hands during River season for 15 years... It is always at it's worst when I am doing a lot of rowing. Just this fall I was offered the most amazing epiphany by two different people, first a personal trainer then a few weeks later a massage therapist... They both said the same thing: It is my neck muscles. I tend to brace with my neck more than my core, and especially while rowing. What happens is that the neck muscles tense and shorten, contracting the shoulder muscles and pinching the major nerve that runs down the arm (not that I know any of the technical terminology, this is the most basic layman's description I understood.) They both suggested that I use a tennis ball or massage roller on my neck and shoulders, vertically down the neck, and laterally across where the neck and shoulders meet. Be gentle & do it a couple of times a day, but don't over do it. Having been doing this throughout the fall, I have for the first time in 15 years actually been experiencing relief from my numb hands! It really has been effing incredible! I hope this helps you in your search for non numb hands... :)
 

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They both suggested that I use a tennis ball or massage roller on my neck and shoulders...
Yes, a tennis ball is great for self-massage. Or, depending upon the area and the pressure desired, as well as the hardness of the floor (carpet, hardwood, whatever) a lacrosse ball might work better (approx same size as tennis ball but much harder).

Another neat trick is to tie two tennis balls inside an old sock, and then you can roll it down both sides of your spine. It's great !
 

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I've had something similar - my opposite hand/arm would go numb while I slept on my side (if I was on my left side my right hand would go numb and vice versa). In addition to the neck/scapula message work I found that stretching my pectoral muscles helped a lot.
 

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Weird this thread pops up right now. I split two chords of wood on Saturday and Sunday morning I couldn't close my hands or barely twist open my coffee cup and.....my fingers were and are still going numb at different times. If I move around it seems to help them get sensation back temporarily. I do think I need to get it checked out. It's better today but still intermittently going numb. I will take some of these ideas and work with it. I used to have some sleeping issues with numbness in arms but it had gone away entirely after losing thirty pounds. Last night was hell.

It definitely seems to emanate from my shoulders and being a long time snowboarder who sucked when I started I have a couple of doozies now. Never hurt them kayaking and getting trashed in some way over my head holes so thankful for that.

So I really have nothing important to add but thanks for the tips. Got some work to do.
 
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