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Trapped in the Cubital Tunnel

September 7, 2005

I’ve never been one of those people, but I am today. With my good hand, I grabbed a fistful of descriptive words and sprinkled them into Google, like a dose of eye of newt dropped into a cauldron for consultation with spirits. The search terms came in tiny glass phials with handwritten paper labels that read “left hand,” “numbness” and “tingling.”

The cauldron gave off a lot of smoke, but a few leads came out of it. It seems likely that my ulnar nerve has become trapped in the cubital tunnel. (I plugged “cubital tunnel” into Mapquest, but Mapquest was no help, ’cause it turns out the cubital tunnel is something of mine, and I just didn’t know it — it’s the second-most-popular tunnel after the carpal, don’t you know.) This means that about 15% of my typing tools (that is, one and a half of my fingers) become numb every few minutes. According to the Internet (which was wearing a round reflector and a white coat when it said this), this is worse when it’s cold, so naturally I’ve got the AC and a ceiling fan on when I learn that.

Reading about the entrapment of the ulnar nerve in the cubital tunnel, I find myself imagining it as a spiny filament in the driver’s seat of a modest sedan, stuck in New York traffic or confined in the tunnel by burning wreckage and a hostile helicopter. Or, remember The Fugitive? Like that. “Entrapment” makes it sound illegal.

Since then, I feel like I’ve had this strange relationship with my ulnar nerve. It’s like we’ve been working together in the same office for years and have just recently been introduced, but we’re not quite getting along and now I keep bumping into him at the copier or walking in on him in the men’s room.

So now I’m thinking about going back to the doctor. For nine years, I didn’t go once except for emergency room visits (both of them for damage to my hands, by the way), and now I’ve been twice this year already, to fret about everything from brain chemistry to jittery eyelids to tumors in my arms and midsection. (Don’t panic; the eyelid thing was caused by shoulder tension and the tumors are benign.) Going again makes me feel like a hypochondriac, but then so did plugging symptoms into a search engine. The thing is, even though I’ve got ten fingers and we’re talking about just 15% of them, I’d really like for none of them to be permanently paralyzed or curled into tingly, mutant claws.

Noise: Juno Reactor, “Zwara”

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One comment

  1. You might not like this suggestion, but you might also try going to a massage therapist to see if they can do specific work on your hand. Cubital tunnel syndrome is very common. And also, you might see if stretching out your pecs works to relieve some pain. But…you might want to also tell me to shove off already and go see a dr. Whichever.



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