Monday, January 16, 2012

Brace Yourself, If You Need To, That Is

I'm right handed.  Very right handed.  My left hand is good for a few things.  I use it when I'm typing and for non-dexterous things like holding an object, but other than that, it is simply there to give me a symmetrical appearance.  If I attempt to write with my left hand, it looks like a child's writing.  I can't even imagine using my left hand to cut with a pair of scissors or chop vegetables with a knife.  It wouldn't end well.

My dad is left handed.  When he was in elementary school, it was frowned upon to use your left hand for writing.  Teachers would force him to put the pencil in his right hand even though it felt awkward to him.  For some reason, they believed you chose your dominant hand as opposed to it being predetermined.  It did eventually serve a useful purpose for him, though.  He severed a tendon in an accident while at work.  He had surgery and his left hand was in a cast for weeks.  The company gave him a temporary position that required a great deal of writing which he had to do with his right hand.

My husband, on the other hand (pun intended), is ambidextrous.  He writes with his right hand, but does a lot of other things with his left.  He plays sports left handed (except golf) and uses tools left handed.  With scissors and knives, he uses his right.  Interesting, huh?

Back to me.  Like I said, my left hand is my stupid hand, but it was never an issue until recently when my right hand started to give me problems.  At first, it was a little achy if I was using it a lot.  Sometimes it felt stiff in the morning or sore at night.  I chalked it up to the onset of arthritis and took ibuprofen for the pain.  It helped, so I figured it was just something I had to learn to live with.  Around Christmastime, I started to have problems gripping things and my hand was so sore that I couldn't make a fist.  Soon after, the pain in my hand was waking me up in the middle of the night.  A few times, it felt like the circulation had been cut off and I was afraid to look at it for fear that it would be dusky.  I was beginning to lose function in my hand.

To shorten an already long story, it turns out that I don't have arthritis, I have carpal tunnel syndrome.  I caught it early enough that it appears I will have no lasting problems.  To alleviate the symptoms, I have been wearing a wrist brace to keep my wrist in a neutral position.  For the time being, I am wearing it during the day as well as at night and removing it only when I will be getting my hand wet.  In time, I will be able to switch to wearing it only at night and then, eventually, I won't need it at all if my symptoms subside.

The reason I'm telling you this story is that it can be easy to attribute hand and wrist pain to a number of other things.  Anyone who does a lot typing can be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, so that includes my blogging friends.  If you are experiencing pain, tingling or numbness in your hand, fingers and/or wrist, don't ignore it.  If it is, indeed, carpal tunnel syndrome, permanent nerve damage can occur if it is left untreated (click here to see the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome).  It's been less than a week since I started wearing the brace, and it's made a huge difference for me.  I haven't had any pain and I have full use of my hand again.



bill lisleman said...

great post - I'm going to share the link with another blogger "Original Bean" who recently posted about her son being left handed and both her and dad are right handed.
thanks - wishing you hand good healing.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Willoughby, I'm sorry to hear that but so glad you caught it early. I have arthritis pretty bas in my hands so I know how tough it can be sometimes when you can't grip things. I yiyi.

Hang in there and thanks for the tip. I'm going to read the symptoms just to be sure I don't have any of them.

Feel good. xo jj

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

oh, sorry to hear that...wishing your hand good healing.

great post and advice!
thanks for the great tips!


Jenn Erickson said...

Whew, I'm so glad you caught the carpal tunnel in time and that it won't cause any lasting damage.

My father is left-handed as well, and had the same experience in elementary school being forced to be a "righty". I'm so glad that damaging practice didn't last another generation.

Jenny said...

Oh girl! I'm so sorry to read this. I'm glad you're getting some relief from the brace!

Sending you a healing little hug from Arizona!

Holly Lefevre said...

My brother can use either hand...but like most things in his life, he does not take advantage of that! My hubby had carpal tunnel really bad...he wore that brace and it helped a lot - he rarely, if ever hurts anymore.

Holly Lefevre said...

My brother can use either hand...but like most things in his life, he does not take advantage of that! My hubby had carpal tunnel really bad...he wore that brace and it helped a lot - he rarely, if ever hurts anymore.

Tracie said...

I'm glad you caught it early! One of my co-workers had carpal tunnel so bad she had to change careers. (She was a billing clerk.)

I'm completely right handed. My husband would have to feed and dress me if anything happened to my right hand.

Cameron said...

Hi, sorry you are experiencing this, this post is a few weeks old so hopefully symptoms are improving! AND very good to know as I'm on this laptop WAY too much!
Sending good thoughts!

Jenny said...

Hi! How are? No new posts so I'm wondering if you're laid up with your brace!

Just saying hi and sending a little hug your way!