Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Multiple diagnosis for arm pain

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 9 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • November 26, 2008
  • 07:26 PM

Greetings folks at WD,

I really hope you'll take a minute to read this and respond if you can.

About 5 yrs ago I started to get *intensely painful* deep burning and sharp-electrical like shocks in my forearm. It was also acompanied by extreme tightness in my forearm and my hand would tighten up and become like a claw (similar to dystonia) and could last for weeks.

It first cropped up during a period of intense weight training where I went above and beyond my already high level of intensity.

Pain killers ( tylenol, ibuprofen and tylenol #3) did nothing for this condition, and neither did long lay-offs from physical activity.

The first sports med dr I saw misdiagnosed it as tennis elbow. I felt very uncomfortable about this diagnosis and went to a sports chiropractor who diagnosed it as a entrapped/compressed nerve. He claimed that during my extreme weight lifting sessions I created a lot of scar tissue which is inhibiting the movement or compression some nerves.

For the past 3 yrs I've been getting very frequent Active Release Technique sessions from this same chiro. It does help, but only to a certain degree. I can now function pretty well painlessly on a day-to-day basis and the electrical like pains are completely gone. Any amount of weightlifting, however, brings the incredible tightness, burning pain and the claw hand back almost immediately.

Furthermore, I cannot bend my wrist back any amount nor can I push back my ring or middle fingers without bringing about these symptoms (my other fingers are fine).

A couple of months back I went to a neurology for a nerve conductivity test (no EMG was done). His diagnosis is that there *might* be a slightly compressed ulnar nerve. He was pretty useless as he told me to not use my hand if it bothered me so much.

A few weeks back I went and saw a top-level rehab and physical medicine dr who specializes in athletes with nerve injuries. After an exhaustive physical examination and another nerve conductivity test AND an EMG test he told me I did not have a compressed or entraped nerve. He did find areas where the fascia in my arm had thickened due to my previous crazy workouts but that was not the primary cause of the problem which he said was a problem with the sensory motor program in my arm.

According this this dr, when I was going through my crazy weightlifting period i was injuring my arm. This caused my CNS to try and (partially) rewire my sensory motor program in an improper manner, causing pain and a type of hand dystonia.

I still have to undergo an MRI later this month but if that comes back ok I'll be getting botox injections which he says will help my body relearn a (hopefully better) sensory motor program.


1) I've received three diagnoses for this pain. Which is correct?
2) From what I've read about botox injections the benefits only last a few months, yet this DR claims it will hopefully lead to a permanent improvement in my senosory motor pattern. Is this possible?

I thank you all for your time!

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