06 July 2010

OUCH! My Hands Hurt!

by Carrie Bailey

For two days, my forearms and wrists flailed about like jelly.  And, they ached.  After I flopped them limply against my arm chair for the entertainment value, tired of giggling and whining about it, I demanded massages from anyone who passed me by, in other words, my son.

As a writer, this seemingly minor affliction could have more serious consequences, so I risked the pain and typed out my desperate plea to where else?  Twitter.  Yep, that's what I did.  Forget Wikipedia and WebMD and Yahoo Answers.  Writers know.  There I would also find the sympathy I wasn't getting from my firework obsessed teenage son who claimed his thumbs were sore.  This transpired on the 4th of July.  Now, I know what you're thinking, "How irresponsible to not go straight to the doctor."  In my defense, I always go...once I determine what my diagnosis should be.     

And on that note, possible causes of why writers may shout, "OUCH! My Hands Hurt!" as I did 40 times yesterday, whenever my son was in hearing range:

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME suggested by @salamicat

This occurs most often in people 30 to 60 years old, and is more common in women than men.
Symptoms are:
  • Numbness or tingling in the thumb and next two or three fingers of one or both hands
  • Numbness or tingling of the palm of the hand
  • Pain extending to the elbow
  • Pain in wrist or hand in one or both hands
  • Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands
  • Wasting away of the muscle under the thumb (in advanced or long-term cases)
  • Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags (a common complaint)
  • Weakness in one or both hands
In addition to seeing a doctor, experts recommend wearing splints at night.  In the worst case scenario, surgery may be necessary but with a high success rate after recovery.


  • Pain in the arm, back, shoulders, wrists, or hands (typically diffuse – i.e. spread over many areas).
  • The pain is worse with activity.
  • Weakness, lack of endurance.
In contrast to carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms tend to be diffuse and non-anatomical, crossing the distribution of nerves, tendons, etc. They tend not to be characteristic of any discrete pathological conditions.  Yeah, I copied and pasted that from Wikipedia.

@GwenMcCauley made a useful observation that in addition to taking a break and receiving (another) massage, I ought to consider what I was writing.  In fact, the emotional nature of my current work, which I described as "nerve wracking" did lend itself to tension and strain.  Good cause to take a break.

However, those two common causes do not rule out the possibility of paralytic shellfish poisoning.  And if my face and legs had been numb as well AND I was overtaken by a sensation of floating, I would return to the budget Chinese restaurant I had prawns at last night and demand a refund.

I'm most likely to ask my doctor about neuropathy, ataxia, and retinitis pigmentosa, also known as NARP.  Undeniably, I fear this rare genetic disorder related to seizures, numbness in limbs, balance disorders, and hearing loss explains all of my symptoms.  Maybe, I cannot remember having half of them yet, but I will by the time I reach the clinic.  

Unless, that is, I have POEMS syndrome.  Yes, when I feel my side, I'm certain my liver may well have enlarged.  Oh! The irony of it all.  I write one too many tasteless odes and irony, a cruel mistress!  Never again.

After my initial bout of hypochondria, a cold compress, and sincere apologies to my exasperated son, I felt fine.  However, I intend to visit the doctor and report my symptoms in case the problem reoccurs.  Until then, I can continue researching all: 

74 Causes of Arm Numbness

Because its fun, informative, and the knowledge you'll garnish can trigger uncontrolled eye rolling in any doctor...or even save you from a misdiagnosis.


  1. Terrific post, Carrie! Could I repost it on AuthorCulture?

  2. Absolutely! I love AuthorCulture and I'll spend the rest of the day bragging I got something posted with you guys :).

  3. I can't believe I find out why my wrist hurts on a writing blog.
    Well it makes sense because your writing is so good.