Arm Trouble

I went to the doctor this afternoon about my arm.

A little over a week ago I got a pain in my neck. Nothing very unusual – I’ve gotten a stiff or sore neck once in a while dating back to high school. It always goes away in a few days at most.

This time it didn’t go away: The soreness seemed to spread down my right shoulder into my arm. By late this week it had settled into my upper arm, and I was getting occasional tingling down my arm, especially in my hand. It was uncomfortable to hold my arm in some positions, especially one I put it in when I sleep.

Today, with it not really getting any better, I called the doctor, and fortunately my regular doctor (okay, I’ve seen him once in eight years, but it’s the same one!) had an appointment open this afternoon.

After some tests, it turns out I have an impinged (pinched) nerve in my neck. This is what I figured it probably was, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t, say, a circulatory problem, which probably would have been a lot worse. The treatment is a round of anti-inflammatory drugs to hopefully let the nerve get back into place, and then to see if it comes back after a week. So I picked up the drugs (I start tomorrow) and I’ll make an appointment for two weeks from now. Hopefully, it will all go as planned. (Plus, it will be a full physical, which I haven’t had in quite a while.) I also learned that I can feel it in my arm when I tilt my head back, so I’m going to try to do less of that for a bit (which may be a good trick as we’re going to see Watchmen tomorrow).

I really like my doctor, he’s quite funny, and also a good communicator. I’d been considering switching my PCP to a new building closer to both home and work, but I’m going to stick with him. It’s important to have a doctor you like, I think.

One other thing: The clinic, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, uses software from my previous employer, Epic Systems. It was interesting to get a glimpse of how the software has evolved since I worked there, and also to see it in action. A little blast from the past, you might say.

4 thoughts on “Arm Trouble”

  1. I know that you’re probably aware of this already, but you should probably also take a look at the ergonomics of your work environment. Chances are that nerve didn’t pinch itself.

    For that matter, call the ergonomics office (if Apple still has one) and have them come down and check out your office. They may have some useful suggestions.

  2. Definitely important to have a doctor you like. Most people hate going to the doctor for anything, and it probably helps to put fewer obstacles in the way of that.

    I’ve had pinched nerves before – usually from sleeping on my arm wrong, after long bouts of typing – but they usually go away quickly. Hope yours does too!

  3. Again, you’re a good influence on me.

    After reading your post, I finally made an appointment to determine the cause of my own left shoulder pains, which I’ve had for years, but has really turned chronic over the past few months.

    It turns out that I have impingement syndrome, and a touch of arthritis in my A-C joint. I was put on an anti-inflammatory and some PT. We’ll see how it works out.

    (It is always neat seeing your software in use. I used to write a point-of-delivery application for handheld systems, and it was used by several major office supply companies. It was a bit of a thrill when I started at a new company, had some furniture delivered, and saw the delivery-person using my code. When asked about it, he even thanked me for it, saying it was much better and easier to use than the system that they had previously. Made me wish I had put in an easter egg to show him…)

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