Friday, June 17, 2011

Pain in the neck (and arm)

About 2 days before the WSOP started, I hurt myself. I was at the gym lifting weights when I felt something "move" in my upper right shoulder. I immediately stopped. The next day the area felt very tight, but nothing serious. Just felt like a pulled muscle. Then the next morning while getting out of bed, it happened. It felt like I was stabbed in the neck with a 3 foot sword. My entire right arm was zinging from my neck all the way down to the fingers. I was wailing in pain. I had to bite on a towel to keep from screaming.

I called a friend... who luckily was nearby. She picked me up and drove me to the hospital. They shot me full of Diloted to quiet me down and keep from moaning in pain. Then they took some x-rays. A short while later, they sent me packing. This is the typical "treat em and street em" response you will get at most hospital emergency rooms. Of course they had given me sheets of paper with their diagnosis, but I was too loopy on painkillers to have any idea what the heck was going on. Since the x rays came back negative, they diagnosed it as a shoulder sprain, and gave me some prescriptions for Valium (a muscle relaxer), Motrin (ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory), and Lortab (hydrocodone, a codeine-based painkiller). I went home and swallowed my pills.

I felt a bit better then next few days, but then the WSOP started. The repetitive motion of dealing caused a lot of pain. It has definitely gotten better since, but that first week was insanely painful.

Now the biggest problem is the numbness in my thumb and index finger, which is almost certainly caused by nerve impingement. This is commonly diagnosed as "carpal tunnel syndrome", but in my case the nerve impingement is not in the wrist... but way up in my cervical vertebrae. Basically, the pulled muscle in the shoulder caused tightness, and when I got out of bed a few days later, the movement through that area pulled on my neck and I herniated the disc between my C5 and C6, which pressed against my nerve roots, causing shooting pain through my shoulder, arm, and into my hand.

Of course this is my own diagnosis, but it makes sense. I will get an MRI to confirm it, so that I can consult with an orthopedist or neurologist and take whatever is needed to help regain the sensation in my hand.

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