Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Mystery Hand and Wrist Pain

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 4 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • February 5, 2007
  • 03:50 AM

I am 19-years-old and I have experienced unexplainable hand and wrist pain since May 2003. It started in the left hand on the ulnar side of the wrist and inside the wrist when I was one month short of turning 16. I'd played the flute intensely for five years before that and had occasionally experienced a sharp ulnar-sided wrist pain in the left wrist after very hard practice sessions that would go away and not come back for months. The onset of the pain in May 2003 was sudden and intense. Every time I picked up my flute after that I would experience that same intense pain after only a few minutes of playing. I stopped playing altogether and believe me, that broke my heart.

Over almost four years, that pain has evolved into constant ulnar-sided wrist pain in both wrists ranging from 3-9 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst pain (it always aches from around 3-6; 7-9 is reserved for brief episodes of shooting pain that usually affects my wrist, the top of my hand, sometimes my forearm, and sometimes all the way up my upper arm and into my shoulder).

I also experience tingling in both hands (it affects my whole hand). Along the pinky side of my left hand there is a barely noticeable dullness of feeling on the skin. Muscle spasms and twitches are a relatively new symptom that started in mid-2005. Sometimes my left hand fingers twitch downward (like they're bending) while at other times my left biceps, the muscles over the left scapula, and the muscles over my left ribs on my side spasm. Lately I've been having spasms all over the place (legs, back, buttocks, face, etc.) though it is possible that those are being caused by a medicine that reduces the acidity of my stomach (aciphex) because I didn't notice the spasms until recently which is when I also began that medication.

Another symptom of note is recurring tendonitis. Therapy eases it, but it always comes back. Nowadays I cannot grip anything heavier than about four pounds for more than thirty seconds or so without the pain worsening. What's strange is I can type on the computer for hours without a problem. Writing for a long time also hurts my right wrist on the ulnar side. (By the way, is "ulnar side" even a proper term?)

I am not sure whether other problems I have might relate to this, so I'll just list them and let you decide whether they are important: severe migraines and headaches that occur regularly (most are at the base of my skull where the neck connects to the head, usually on the right side), chondromalacia (my knees ache because of this), slight memory problems right around the time this started in May 2003, spina biffida occulta, asthma as a child, and polycystic ovary disease.

I have been to several doctors:

Pediatric Orthopedic Doctor, 2003: Diagnosed with tendonitis and tennis elbow as a result of repetitive injury. Ordered occupational therapy. I moved shortly after being diagnosed and went to the next guy.
Hand Specialist, 2003: Cortisone injected for De Quervain's, left hand. Ordered occupational therapy for the previous diagnosis of tendonitis and tennis elbow and prescribed me Celebrex. Therapy did not work. I gave up for a while after this, eventually discontinuing the Celebrex which didn't seem to work anyway.
Neurologist, 2006: Ordered an EMG, which showed slight neuropathy of the ulnar nerves of both arms. Ordered an MRI of left hand, showed tendonitis and a small hole in the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex. No Carpal Tunnel. Sent me to the plastic hand surgeon and prescribed me Mobic (an NSAID), which seemed to help a lot at first.
Plastic Hand Surgeon, 2006: Administered cortisone injection #2 for left hand De Quervain's that came back. That injection shrunk that muscle and thinned out the skin above where it was injected. She also ordered occupational therapy. The therapy eased the tennis elbow, but didn't help otherwise.
General Practitioner, 2006: I asked him to order an MRI of my neck on the off chance my vertebrae were messed up. The MRI showed a perfectly healthy neck.
Orthopedic Doctor, 2006: Said the ulnar-sided wrist pain might be caused by a tear in the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex. By this time I had discontinued the Mobic. I didn't want to be on something if it was only masking symptoms rather than actually curing me.
Rheumatologist, 2006: No diagnosis. Symptoms did not fall under a single disease in his field of work, including rheumatoid arthritis. He thought about testing me for lupus but decided against it because I didn't have enough symptoms for it and the test gives false positives or something like that.

So basically most diseases/injuries/etc. that could cause my problems have been ruled out from what I understand. My mom wants me to go get tested for Lyme disease, which they haven't tested for yet. I'm willing to try pretty much anything to get a diagnosis and, if possible, a cure. My family is tight on money but willing to do whatever it takes to get a diagnosis. This problem doesn't just keep me from playing the flute, which was my passion, but it keeps me from doing some simple things. If any of you have any suggestions, no matter how small, please reply. If you need more information just say the word.

Reply Flag this Discussion

4 Replies:

Thanks! A moderator will review your post and it will be live within the next 24 hours.