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Hands Going Numb

Mark Evans

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In the last few months my hands have been going numb while playing.


Went to the clinic and they ruled out Carpel-Tunnel (I have no idea how to spell that) and sent me down for an MRI (almost lost my mind in that steel tube). Verdict: I have three diseased disc in my neck that effects my lower back and hands. There is no operation only PT which has yielded no positive result as of yet.


I am learning to live with this. The traditional seated playing position seems best as long as I elevate the leg I'm resting the instrument on and can play for an extended period before taking a break. That's great for the house or the weekly seisuin. However, I also play in a Whatzit band where we all stand. In that situation I have to be careful not to elevate the instrument to chest level for an extended period of time or the numbness comes on strong. I love to dance around with the instument in my hands and I have notice the natural flow of changing positions while dancing seems to help. Just have to dance more I guess!


Anybody else run into this? Any suggestions?

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You have discs (the cushions between the bones of your spinal column) in your neck that pinch nerve roots as they exit the spinal cord. I see this operated on all the time. I'm not sure why they tell you it's not an option (but what do I know, I'm just an anesthesiologist). Another possible option might be chemonucleolysis [can you say that? KEE-mo-noo-CLEE-o-LIE-sis or KEE-mo-NOO-clee-OLL-a-SIS]. It means destroying the disc by injecting stuff into it with a needle through the skin (no incisions, no anesthesia). Ask your doctor. It may not be the answer, but it's worth asking.

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Mark, I have dealt with numbness and related problems a bit.


Just speaking from experience and not as one with a medical background or anything, my best 'advice' or 'word' on the subject is -- total body yoga-type exercise.


Now, this is not saying that I have actually kept up with that! Heh heh... it's kind of like knowing that you should eat all your vegetables since they're good for you, but...actually following through on that is another thing!!!


In other words, unless you DO have a specifically-located problem like carpal tunnel, there' s not much point in isolating the hands for hands-only exercise or treatment.


Gentle stretching, and breathing exercises, and postures, combined with relaxation/meditation/etc -- can possibly affect the entire body in a way that specific problems are targeted.


Years ago, because of pain, I went to a yoga class taught by a man trained at Kripalu (in Lenox, MA). I kinda dropped in and out over a few years. Though I didn't really like the last class or two that I took from him, overall, I thought he was so great and I highly recommend him -- as far as I know, he's still teaching at his center in Hudson (not far, considering his classes are worth it...in fact, I think he lives in Framingham). Email me if you want more info. I've considered going back to his classes...but, I'm just so spoiled on not having to go out in the cold when I don't want to...don't even like the thought of those cold drives to and from...brrrr....) Anyway...


Another good thing: A gadget for cardio-type exercise. I really like my Tony Little Gazelle edge trainer that I got from Walmart.com for somewhere near $100. Of course, they have fancy ones at gyms. I DON'T like treadmills, and I don't even like the edge trainers at gyms -- I like the non-electronic, 'unplugged' kind!!!!


YOU CAN EVEN PLAY YOUR CONCERTINA WHILE WORKING OUT ON THE EDGE TRAINER!!!!! Of course, I've almost fallen over a few times, but, so far, so good!!! :P

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Just speaking from experience and not as one with a medical background or anything, my best 'advice' or 'word' on the subject is -- total body yoga-type exercise.

I'd agree with Wendy. I've been suffering with two (unrelated) back injuries for most of this year, and any gentle regular exercise you can do is worth hours in the hands of a physiotherapist. I find swimming the best exercise for me - breast stroke particularly as it exercises most muscles you can think of and a few more you never knew you had in the first place. The annoying thing is that recovering from back trouble is a long, slow process and it's so very easy to set yourself back (no pun intended!) by doing too much.

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Thanks folks! I was not very happy with the neurologists lack of solution for sure. David, I can't pronounce that word and am very scared of operations of any sort. Anesthesiologists not know much? Huh! Had a gall bladder go south on me a number of years ago. My upstairs neighbor was a member of your profession. He took very good care of me, even insisting on a great young surgeon he knew would be best (she looked like she was 18). His last word to me before I went down in the velvet fog of anesthesia was "you won't even have a sore throat when you wake up" (at the time I was still singing opera and was very worried about damage to my vocal chords). He was true to his word.


Wendy, I'll email you for that address. Hudson is very close to me.


So Stuart, I'll have ta get off me fat arse and do something. <_< That's what I knew it would come down to. I've also been thinking about acupuncture :blink: Nah!

Edited by Mark Evans
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Mark, I wish you luck. You've gotten some good advice, but also some that I would view with caution. Investigate all options, and investigate them thoroughly before blindly following any particular course of action. The intentions are all good, but as my mother used to say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."


Why am I throwing such a wet blanket on the others' encouragement? Because some of the advice seems to have overlooked your description of your problem, and the fact that it's not the same as the ones they had. A pinched nerve is very different from a weak back or even carpal tunnel syndrome. Exercise might help, but the wrong exercise could cause further damage, possibly even permanent damage, if it results in the nerve(s) being pinched further. (I once got a pair of shoes that had a seam in a place that pinched a nerve in my big toe. I wore those shoes for one night, and it was 6 months before I could again walk normally!) I think yoga generally can benefit just about anyone, but even certain yoga exercises might, in your particular case, cause damage. I wouldn't expect even a very experienced yoga instructor to necessarily know exactly the right exercises to recommend or avoid for your particular injury, and that's assuming you tell them about it in advance.


David B.'s comment is right on the mark. Like those in any other profession, too many doctors assume that their personal experience includes all the knowledge (or at least "relevant" knowledge) that there is. (I note that you said the discs are "diseased", but didn't say what sort of disease. Did the doctors tell you? Is it something that can be expected to get worse?) Get advice of further specialists, preferably more than one. (I know, that's easy for me to say, living in a country where -- aside from massive taxes -- I don't pay a penny for that service. But it is your future, which I hope will be a long and happy one.) Find out if an operation really will help. Learn what movements and postures are likely to alleviate the condition, and which will aggravate it. (It sounds like you've already done some of that.)


But get the right advice. (Easier said than done.) Unfortunately, not everyone who is trained or "qualified" is equally good. I have one friend who almost died as an infant, because half a dozen doctors didn't recognize that he had pneumonia. (Unlike the rest of us, his body is incapable of producing a fever, and without an elevated temperature, they didn't look any further. The one who said to himself, "I don't care if it has accordion reeds; I think it's a concertina," [oops! wrong Topic ;)] saved his life and became his family's doctor from then on.) As a case closer to your own, a friend who had had painful problems with her knees for more than a decade and had gone through a dozen specialists who said nothing could be done, was examined by a physical therapist (not the first), who immediately said, "You've somehow learned to walk without using these two muscles, and they've atrophied." A prescription of the right exercises, and within a few months the problem was solved... permanently.

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I'll just add a short note to say: do not disparage physiotherapy. In our experience physiotherapists know far more about pain and numbness and the causes thereof than most GPs. The physiotherapist we use (we found him when Anne had a trapped nerve in her shoulder) was of amazing help when our GP would only prescribe painkillers that were completely ineffective.



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Jim and Chris, thank you for the sage advice (Jim it is a joy to read your wit and wisdom again).


They tell me the discs are degenerating, loosing integrity. The low back pain associated with it is severe. The numbness in the hands...on and off. I am fortunate in that I have a job with health benefits. I'll get some second oppinions and proceed with caution.


This weekend the family allowed me to play my Tina for a good 6 hours a day unmolested. With little breaks for errands and rest for my digits and wrists I had the best New Years gift ever (Turlough Carolan and I became much closer acquaintances...great jig-Hugh O'Donnell!). I want to play as much as I can while it lasts.

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Wendy, I'll email you for that address. Hudson is very close to me.  (said Mark.)


(I'm still having trouble getting the new 'Quote' option to work in the forum. I click on it and it turns into a red negative sign, and I haven't bothered to ponder this much, yet...)


Anyway, Mark, I didn't receive an e-mail from you, but, of course, you can find out about as much as I can just by searching online...and, I think that the studio I once went to for classes is possibly closed now, though the teacher may be teaching at some other studio. As well as yoga, he held Feldenkrais classes. Feldenkrais is great, I think -- and is good for -people who may not want to actually take a 'yoga' class or have any connection with anything called yoga, for whatever reason.


Oh, there are classes in Hudson through Assabet After Dark -- assabetafterdark.com, though, there may be similar types, closer to you, don't know.


I took some yoga classes there, too, from the same teacher who ran the yoga center. Now, there is a new teacher (took 2 classes from her, too).


Assabet is good -- though, I prefer now to go to night Adult Ed classes in Harvard, MA -- they cost less, since it's a smaller bunch of people. (Cooking classes, for me, now. Getting fat, shall need more yoga....)


I do think that Assabet asks a bit much for their night courses, but -- yikes -- I've checked out some prices of local yoga studios, and they are absolutely over the top!!! They must get some very elite people, but, no thanks, I am not that stupid, won't pay that much!


What I didn't like about Assabet was that the rather-large yoga class had gotten bumped out into the hallway, thanks to the belly dancers. They had a huge belly-dance class, too, and they won the election, I guess. It was way too cold in the hallway, I thought, for a yoga class. (At the classes at the teacher's studio, we were kept much warmer and there were no lurking belly dancers.)


Anyway....there's not much else that I could e-mail you about, really.


Edit added: Assabet is in Marlborough, actually. But, right near Hudson.

Edited by bellowbelle
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Perhaps you might also like to look into the Alexander Technique. It's sort of a cross between gentle stretching and un-learning all the bad physical habits we have picked up over the years.


(For example I didn't even realise that I used to stand with most of my weight transferred to one leg, to conpensate for a bad back. Which is then putting more stress on the wrong muscles and making things worse).


While I agree with Jim that there is no substitute for getting advice from someone who specialising in your particular health issues, I have found that the Alexander technique has helped me correct some bad habits, and take better care of myself by using my body and muscles in the right way. :)


[Cautionary: The Alexander Technique does not provide instant relief or remedy; for me personally it's an on-going work in progress; but then I didn't learn my bad habits over night either :P]


I hope this is of some help,


Take care,

Morgana :D

Edited by Morgana
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Wendy,I've wanted to email (sometimes I feel I intrude with an off-net communication although I love getting them) for the address and to complement you MP3s (you made me cry for joy). I'm still gonna.


Morgana, I used to "do" Alexander for my singing years ago. Was a very helpful experience. Glad you brought that up. There are a couple of Alexander folks at the job site. Think I'll just chat them up at lunch today. Thank you.

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...(you made me cry for joy)...



:blink: Gee, I hope she showed up! Sorry, didn't mean to make you cry! :) :D


Anyway...you're way too nice, Mark -- I am really that great at anything, just crazy enough to try it!


(...Someday I'll get that 'Quote' stuff right.)

Edited by bellowbelle
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Wendy, I can't make the quote thing work either. :(

Hello Mark


Below I show you how to reply in a correct way without having troubles with this


Suppose I am going to reply to your message:




After clicking the REPLY button the screen below appears:




In this way you can finish your reply, have a preview and send your message.

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Wendy, I can't make the quote thing work either. :(

Maybe because there are three variations?


There are two buttons below each message when you're viewing.

+QUOTE apparently turns on and off (when "on", it changes to -QUOTE) a facility for quoting from more than one message at a time. (Somebody else said that. I haven't yet tried it.) I suggest that you ignore that, at least for now.

"Quote (with the quotation marks in the little balloon) gives you window for replying to the individual message, and starts it off by quoting the entire message you're replying to.


Once you're in the editing/composing window, there's a QUOTE button up above, among others (I for italics, B for bold-face http:// for inserting a URL link), in case you want to insert your own "handmade" quotes.


An important thing to note is that any quotes must be enclosed between a begin-quote "tag" and an end-quote "tag". Here is an example:

[quote=Mark Evans,Jan 12 2005, 12:38 PM]Wendy, I can't make the quote thing work either. :([/quote]

Each "tag" encloses a command in square brackets. Each opening tag includes such a command, e.g.,

[quote] or [color] or [I]

possibly with an "=" sign and some additional information

[quote=Mark Evans] or [color=red], but never with [I]

Each closing tag contains the same command word as the opening command it is to close, but preceded by a "/", and never with anything extra, e.g.,

[/quote] to close [quote], [/color] to close [color], etc.

Where it makes sense, tags can be nested. E.g.,

[QUOTE=outer]First part of outer quote.[QUOTE=inner]Inner quote.[/QUOTE]Second part of outer quote.[/QUOTE]

which results in the following:

First part of outer quote.
Inner quote.
Second part of outer quote.

Since the "inner" opening quote tag came before a closing tag for the "outer" quote, the second quote was placed within the first one. Then the closing quote tags closed the quotes in reverse order, just like returning up a series of stairs that one has descended.


Now here are some ways in which things can go wrong: Remember that I said each opening tag needs to be matched by a closing tag? If you use the "Quote button to respond to a message, and then you delete part of the quote (presumably because you're only replying to part of the original), for each opening tag you delete, you need to delete its corresponding closing tag, and vice versa. (Think of filling your car's gas tank:

1. Stick hose nozzle into tank opening.
2. Pump enough gas to fill tank.
3. Remove nozzle from tank opening.

If you eliminate either 1. or 3. without the other, you could be in real trouble. In fact, if you eliminate 1., then 3. isn't possible. And leaving 2. while eliminating 1. will cause far more trouble than failing to properly identify a quote. :o)


Another place where something can go wrong is when you're using the QUOTE button above the window where you're composing your message. Click it once, and it inserts the opening quote tag wherever the cursor is in your text; click it again, and it inserts the closing tag. Except that it's actually dumber than that. If it says "QUOTE", it'll insert the opening tag, but as it does, the button changes to "*QUOTE". It's when you click on the *QUOTE button that you get the closing tag, wherever the cursor is in your text at the time you click. If you meant to open a new quote -- e.g., if you started a quote and then erased it, including the tag, -- you've just messed up the order of the commands, and the result when somebody views your post will not be what you want. In a case like that, you need to click on the *QUOTE button and then erase the closing tag it creates, and then when the button has changed back to QUOTE (without the star), click on that to start the new quote.


But there are other, easier, ways to create your own quotes. One is to first create your tags as a pair (clicking the button twice, after first making sure it isn't showing the star), and then place your cursor between the two tags and enter the text of your quote. The other -- a very nice feature -- is that you can enter your text, then highlight (click-drag, or click and shift-click, at least with Microsoft) the text which is the quote and click the QUOTE button once. When you do it this way the button is much "smarter"; it will place the opening tag just before what you've highlighted and the closing tag right after, all at once. (And the QUOTE button will still -- or again -- be without the star.)


The above techniques also work for most of the other command buttons for the composition window. (http://, IMG, and @ work differently. I won't go into them here.)

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Just tried and "pooched" the whole affair...and me hands have gone numb as well! (along with me brain):blink:


Thank you for your efforts Henk and Jim...but as the ITS guys here would gleefully tell you...I'm dumb as a sack o' hammers. Hopefully it is to my credit that I won't give up which is evidenced by my continued participation in the election process here in the land o' the free and the brave. :P


I've desperately wanted to add a few things to the recorded C.Net page, but have to wait for the students to come back so they can guide me through the process (well, actually do it for me). Now I'll have to play Tina for a little bit to make me feel better about myself. :unsure:

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Just tried and "pooched" the whole affair...

Maybe it's not you, Mark.


Looking at Henk's screen shots, I see that where I have a button that says "Quote, he has one that says REPLY, his all-upper-case REPORT button appears to me as mixed-case Report, and on my screen his TOP button contains no text, but an upward pointing arrow. I wonder why and how we are experiencing these differences, and whether there might other differences, which are functional but not visual. And I wonder if your browser is presenting you with things that differ from what either Henk or I have.


I know that before the recent upgrade, certain of the features that I detailed for you didn't work properly in my usual browser (Mozilla), though they did work in MS Internet Explorer. The intriguing thing is that it was Invision's new Forum software, not any change in my browser, that got them working properly for me.

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