Saturday, February 03, 2007

Dealing with a Nocturnal Elbow

I know exactly what precipitated the pain in my left elbow that started over a year ago. We were packing up the car to drive north to Boston. When my husband suggested taking water bottles 6 at a time to the car, I in my typically impatient style picked up the whole case of 24 and suddenly felt a sharp pain in my elbow. As we headed north, I massaged the place that hurt, regretting my haste that left me in pain.

As with most pain, I chose to ignore the aching elbow for the next month or so. It was never intense, but it was there. Then the pain during the day left and it hurt only at night.

Since that time I have consulted several different doctors about the pain in my elbow when I was in their offices for other reasons. I get to the “it hurts only at night part,” and they say, “Right. And what brings you in today?” A new massage therapist offered the suggestion that it might be symptomatic of a pinched nerve in my neck. Great!

This week as Quentin started to work on my right foot and leg, I decided to mention the elbow problem, just to get another read on it:

Me: Do you know anything about tennis elbow?
Q: Yeah, I know a lot about it.
Me: (I describe the original injury.) Now it hurts only at night after I have been lying on my left side. Never during the day time. But it hurts a lot at night.
Q: (closing his eyes as he always does to visualize the injury and its effect) That is not tennis elbow. You probably tore (I can’t remember what he called it) in your elbow and it healed short. That’s why it hurts when you lie on your left side with your arm extended out straight. It’s never in that position for any length of time during the day.
Me: So what can I do to fix it?
Q: Hold you left arm out straight and pull your fingers back with your right hand. Do it 15 times a day.
Me: What a wonderful thing to do when I sit in all those boring meetings and listen to the talking heads drone on and on.

Now, I ask, why couldn’t someone else have figured this out a year ago? I did the simple exercise yesterday during the day. Last night was the first night I can remember in a long time when I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with a throbbing elbow. It may still have hurt just a little, but I am convinced that this will make it better.

So many health care providers want to fix the big things, but they neglect the little pains that add an edge to a good night’s sleep or continue to point out how important something like an elbow really is. The solution to this one was not a medical degree, but rather a sound understanding of anatomy.


Blogger Kristin said...

I'm glad there's an exercise to help. Joint pain rots.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Quentin is a genius, yes, and also other doctors aren't trained to think about physiology - what happens when you move body parts around - it's just the way they're trained.

Good for you to mention it to your healer and friend! I hope your funny bone is soon back to good, pain-free health.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Yes, many things are healed or at least improved with very little the use of simple orthotics. They make my weird foot problems so much better even though I'll always have pain in my big toe joint.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous quentin said...

Geez, Barbara, you gotta lay off the "Quentin-the-Healer" bit. People are going to start thinking I'm imaginary. I know close to 50 people who could have done that.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Quentin -- I guess we just don't travel in the same circles then, because I haven't met the other 49.

6:15 PM  

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