Hi everyone! These forums are great, and hopefully can help me figure out what's going wrong with me, as I haven't been able to figure it out.
So the story so far...
So I'm 24 now, generally have been in healthy condition my whole life.
A year and a half ago I woke up one morning with some pain in my left elbow.
I thought it might simply be a simple "muscle-soreness-slept-on-it" kind of thing, but the pain felt different- sharp, and deep in my elbow. I found I couldn't play guitar without the pain, and also felt it when I held plates during my job as a server at a restaurant. So I got online, started looking up musician's injuries, and found that the condition that most likely explained my symptoms was cubital tunnel syndrome.
So I go to the doctor (at a common HMO) and say "Hey I think I have cubital tunnel syndrome." The doctor asks me some questions, agrees it is cubital tunnel syndrome, and applauds me at catching it early. He says it was probably caused by playing, serving, and spending too much time with my elbows bent on the desk at school. He recommends I take Advil or Motrin, and sends me for a shoulder X-ray. The X-ray comes back fine (I now know this to be a runnng theme) so I try to baby my left arm and take 2 advil with each meal.
Fast forward a few months, the problem is now much worse, especially at work, and the pain has spread to shooting sensations from my littlest fingers up my arm, tense shoulders, and pain in my armpit that feels like something swollen. I go back to the doc and get an NCV (Nerve Conduction Velocity) test which says I've lost 20% of my nerve conduction over my elbow. At this point the pain is so bad it is constant at work and playing guitar seems like an uphill battle. The doc gives me one PT appointment (yep, one) and says to stretch and improve my posture. I try, but it is hard to retrain my muscles without help and a lot of pain. At this point I have a bunch of muscles in my shoulder, neck, and on the inside and outside of my arm that will not relax. I can literally strum on the tendon in the inside of my upper arm, to create shocking, shooting pains, if I want to. :P
Fast forward the beginning of this year- the pain/tense muscle thing is fully from the tips of my fingers to my outer wrist to my elbow to my armpit to my chest under my pectorials. Similiar symptoms have developed on my right side. My lower back and shoulders are lumpy and incredibly hard to relax, my hip feels off center and skewed and the muscles in my left inner leg are tense and unable to relax, causing pain in my left knee and ankle. All of these symptoms developed in roughly four or five months, and after trying to stretch, rest the muscles, and relax to no avail, I head back to the docs at my HMO again.
This time I see specialists- an orthopedic doctor, a neurologist, whom I have to fight very hard to see. They act like I'm wasting their time, say I still have only cubital tunnel syndrome in my elbow, and refer back to the NCV test I got over a year ago. They recommend surgery on both my arms, particularly my left, saying it is relatively painless and with few complications. The other problems I'm experiencing? "Probably not related." I get an MRI of my cervical spine (not my arm strangely) which turns up with a few weird anomalies near my C7 vertebrae, but that is also "Nothing, and probably not related."
I have been trying nonsurgical alternatives, but my condition is steadily getting worse and these days I am basically an unfocused ball of pain. I sleep horribly, waking up many times during the night. I can barely work at all, and when I do, I have flareups that can last for a week or longer. PT seems to help little, and I only got it by filing for Workmans Comp (thank you, private insurance)
I recently switched to a desk job with a lot of phone work in an attempt to ease my pain, but sitting down for hours is rough too, even with breaks to stretch. I am thinking I have to go on disability, but I can't and afford to live here in SF without breaking my lease and moving. (Of course $$ is a separate problem)
So that's it so far. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I am firmly convinced this problem is more complex than an RSI in my elbow alone, but doctors tend to look at me as some malingering hypochondriac. If anyone has had similiar situations, or suggestions, or recommendations to aleviate the pain, I would love, I mean LOVE, to hear them. Thanks again for reading and my heart goes out to everyone who has to experience this kind of pain! Peace.