Hand troubles


About 4 years ago I had the right hand go numb in the night. They tested the nerve conductivity with electrodes and decided the nerve to the hand was compressed. This is carpel tunnel (I'll leave out the syndrome bit as it makes it sound a good deal more serious than it really is). Anyhow, they cut away the fibres which had grown so thickly over the nerve and all was well. At this time I was told the left was in a similar state, but since it was causing no problems, I did not have it done.

The problem

The left hand has taken badly to all that jolting on the handlebars, and now goes numb/painful each night

The solution

I have heard that pregnant women often have Carpel tunnel like mine and that they are given a hand brace to wear at night. Despite having conclusive evidence that I am not pregnant I have made myself a brace out of my toothbrush and a crepe bandage. Instructions: First dry the brush after use. Wrap it in bandage to make it softer. Place it lengthways down the back of the wrist and bandage into position.


DISADVANTAGE: Causes problems if you need to exit the tent for the loo in the night. Mark says it looks like "The Mummy" and is not very sexy.

The ultimate solution

Four months into the tour and the hand got gradually worse. Fearing that I could be left with a numb hand on my hands in some remote location, I sought advice at a hospital near Venafro in Italy. Communication was hard, but patience and the summoning of translaters on the part of the staff helped me get my message accross. Within 2 hours I'd seen a surgeon who said, "We can help you, we'll do an operation tommorrow morning" Thus within 24 hours I had had an operation that cuts the ligament which caps the carpel tunnel. This reduces pressure on the nerves giving immediate relief. I speak little Italian, but very little is required of the patient during a local operation. The need for and function of a tournique is obvious, when large needles arrive it is pretty obvious that they are going to be stuck in you and the rest, such as being asked to open and close the hand can be done with sign language.

I have to thank the many people who helped me wade through the official documents to autherise the op, and the neuromed centre for what seems to me as an English person UNBELIEVABLE efficiency. The hand does not even hurt much, unlike when the right hand was done. Not even a paracetamol has been needed.

After all that jabber, I think you deserve a gory photo:

Three months later

The hand was good for cycling after a month (with some discomfort) The 'really aard' would have been ok after two and a half weeks, when I was able to cycle only a mile or so. Now the problem is totally gone, although I still should do stretching to fully bend the hand back for climbing or caving.