When hypermobility becomes a real pain…

joints

I’ve always known that I had pretty good flexibility from a young age.  I was born with a ‘clicky hip’ (hip dysplacia); my knees bend backwards way too much, my elbows and writsts twist round a little too far and my fingers bend backwards too weirdly. And of course my spine is too flexible – which has caused me a LOT of trouble in the past with my slipped discs, scoliosis and kyphosis. It’s also another reason I suffer from sciatica a lot; where my sciatic nerve gets trapped easily in my lower back and pelvis. I never really thought it could do any damage though; until now.

For the last few weeks I’ve been suffering terrible stabbing pains and constant ‘aching’ in my hands and wrists – to the extent where I find I can’t type or write some days (not ideal for work) and it keeps me awake at night when I’m trying to sleep. I just want to rip them off the ends of my arms, it’s so frustrating. I’ll also wake up with numb hands and pins and needles in my fingers (god knows what I’m up to in my sleep). I was starting to worry it was a flare up of my Psoriatic Arthritis so I went to see my consultant who, luckily, quickly dismissed it. She did however recognise it was a problem.

She referred me to a neurologist a couple of weeks back, and off I went for some tests including an EMG (Electromyography) test.  It involved being hooked up to numerous cables and pads and having electrical currents sent through me to make my muscles jump and look for any abnormalities in my skeletal muscles and the nerves that travel through them. I’m used to being a bit of a lab rat so I embraced it and surprisingly didn’t find it too bad, albeit a little uncomfortable with all the electric pulses. I learnt a lot too – my doctor was very lovely and didn’t mind me asking lots of questions throughout.

As he talked me through what he was doing during the tests, he also showed me the results that were coming up on the screen – he said I had a mild form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – which is the compression of the nerve in the wrist, where it gets ‘caught’ inbetween the ligaments in your hand known as the carpal tunnel. (The nerve travels from your spine all the way down your arms and through to the ends of your fingers – well, all but your little finger for some reason). For anyone that knows me, one mention of the word ‘nerve’ and I just go numb – always have done from a young age – can’t deal with it for some reason, it’s like people who faint at the thought of blood! So let’s stop talking about nerves now.

Whilst I was pissed off that I was given ANOTHER thing to deal with (what on earth have I done in a previous life!?), I haven’t really been too bothered or upset, mostly annoyed that it’s stopping me from carrying out simple everyday tasks (like holding my phone or typing/writing at work). It’s also why I haven’t blogged in a few weeks.  I was told to wait to be referred to see a Hand Therapist for physio to get started on treatment.

I had my first Hand Therapy session last week where my lovely new physiotherapist, Nina, talked me through everything and had a look at my joints. Literally within seconds of looking at my hand and asking me to do a couple of stretches, she told me I was ‘extremely hypermobile’. Now like I said I knew I was a little hypermobile but ‘extremely’ was new. I kind of laughed it off but she explained more about it and how she thinks it’s caused my carpal tunnel-like symptoms in my hand.

Biology time: If you’re hypermobile, it basically means that your ligaments are more ‘stretchy’ and are able to move and extend more than they should. Whilst your bones are attached to your ligaments, they’re not meant to move into the positions that your ligaments push them to; so eventually, after a while, the damage kicks in and the effects of years and years of ‘overuse’ and ‘overbending’ means that you end up in agony.

Whilst that worried me with thoughts of ‘how bad can it get’ and ‘how painful will it be in my later years’, what she did say is that with a lot of strengthening, and a few months of special joint exercises and wearing splints at night (sexy), I should be able to reverse the pain and learn how to control it.  If it doesn’t get any better in the next couple of months, they may well recomment surgery in my wrist to help free the nerve from the pressure in the carpal tunnel.

So, that brings me up to date.  I’ve now got splints which I need to wear at night on both wrists to keep them straight, and some ‘physio putty’ (aka the world’s toughest play-doh) to help with the joint and muscle strengthening, and hopefully over the next six weeks I can minimise the pain. I’ve also learnt not to push my limbs where they shouldn’t be pushed – like locking my knees back (bad habit) and overstretching my arms/hands.

Right, I’m off to go rest my hands after all this typing…

Joey
x X x

splints

^ My VERY ATTRACTIVE splints ^

 

 

 

The good sort of pain…

With all of my back problems (my slipped discs, my scoliosis) and of course the Psoriatic Arthritis in my pelvis and feet (did I mention that already) 😉 I haven’t been able to work out properly for the last couple of years without being in immense pain. I’ve been doing Physio and Pilates which helps for sure, but cardio in particular has been a no-no for me especially anything where I have to be stood up on my feet.

My two main disabilities really work against each other sometimes. They tell me the best thing for keeping your spine mobile is exercise; yet I can’t excercise because I’m in so much pain with my arthritis – especially with it being in my feet/toes. Sometimes, when the PSA pain is so bad, I can barely move without being in agony, which results in my back pain escalating because I’m not able to be as mobile as I should be to keep my spine in check. So ridiculous.

BUT… I got the all clear a couple of weeks ago to be able to go back to the gym – yaassss! I am still limited to what I can do – I can use the cross trainer and recumbent bike for cardio, and lots of the weights. A benefit of all my core work from rehab physio is that my posture is SO much better than it used to be, which also helps get the best out of my workouts. To top it off my local gym has got a huge space for mat work on the floor with all the foam rollers, weights and bosu balls I could dream of.

I’ve been really poorly for the last three weeks with a nasty chesty cough infection which just won’t go away. I’ve been trying to ignore it and hope it’ll piss off but it’s going nowhere fast; so this week I gave in to it and have taken time off work for the rest of the week. It’s easy to forget I have next to no immune system! So any sign of the smallest infection from someone and I’m taken down almost immediately (I can thank the mtx and humira for that!). If I don’t take time out to really rest and do what my body needs me to do, I won’t get better.  I also have plans with different friends/family for the next four days in a row – and unlike my ‘normal’, ‘healthy’ friends, I have to plan for that and make sure to take things easy in advance.

Having been locked up in the flat all day by myself and not uttering a word out loud to anyone, I was starting to go a bit crazy. So I decided that, despite feeling shitty, a workout would do me good.  I dusted off the gym kit and met Wayne after work and we headed over to the gym to get inducted and stay for our first session.

I genuinely never thought I’d be excited about going to the gym… I had forgotten how good it feels when you leave after a successful workout. And you know what, I genuinely am really looking forward to that good kinda pain and soreness you get the next day when you wake up…

Bring it on!

Joey
xxx

gym