Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Nerve Damage

I finally got in to see the doctor about the intense pain I've been having in my left arm and shouder area. He poked and prodded and pushed and pulled and did all kinds of contortions to my arm and shoulder, none of what he was doing causing any pain. Upon completion of his rigorous testing of my joint, he concluded that there was no muscle, bone, or tendon damage. He was pretty much 100% sure it was a problem with a nerve bundle that is in my shoulder.

This nerve bundle serves as kind of a transfer station. All of the nerves from my arm, the inside of my left torso, and my left pec all send and receive nerve signals through this nerve bundle. The most likely problem is that there is a viral inflamation around the nerve bundle. Because of this pressure and stress around the nerves, it transmits pain throughout my left arm and side (which is exactly what I've been having a ton of). So what is the cure? Time. My body will naturally take care of the viral inflamation in a period of around 2 weeks or so. In the time that my body is dealing with it, I can expect a lot of pain. Yep, that's right, it's one of those things that have to "get worse before it gets better". To help me through the doc told me to take 2400 mg of ibuprofen a day. Woot! He said he could have provided me with some neural inhibiting drugs to help even more, but they're expensive... so I'll just have to stick with ibuprofen.

If it's not a viral inflamation, it could be a form of shingles (I think that's what he called it) that affects only nerve tissue. It would cause the same symptoms, but usually there is some weakness or numbness with the pain. I have neither right now. If it is shingles, again, the treatment would be time and possibly some antibiotics.

The third, and least likely, thing it could be is some neural infection where my nerves and muscles in the area of the infection would atrophy. This infection is usually accompanied by noticeable weakness, though, which I don't have. If I do start to experience weakness or prolonged numbness I'm supposed to go in asap so a neurologist can make a diagnosis because this type of infection needs to be treated fast so that the nerves and/or muscles don't atrophy to a point where major, permanent damage is done.

The doctor can't be completely sure what it is because they'd need to take a sample of the nerve tissue or do some type of MRI or other type of imaging on the affected area and both of them are again very expensive. I know because the MRI I had this last summer cost me around $800. So, barring noticeable weakness or numbness, I just have to deal with the pain for the foreseeable future as my body takes care of it. Thankfully, I can still work out and do all of my normal everyday activities since there's no problem with my musculature or joints.

So, yeah, I'm going to be slightly grumpy for a while since I'm in constant pain, but once it subsides I should be back to normal. Freakin' nerves and viruses and inflamations and crap ruining my week. God sure likes to kick me when I'm down. I'm trying to deal with Kristin being a continent away (not very well, I might add) and then I have to come down with this stupid crap. Ugghh. Oh yeah, that and I might be developing high blood pressure because of my genetics. Frickin' yay.

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