ow. ow alot.
November 13, 2010 11:03 PM   Subscribe

Relief for cervical ulnar nerve compression?

It may be a few days until I can see a doc. I have whiskey and ibuprofen, but how should I sleep? My brother says to sleep with no pillows, my roommate says "sleep however it's most comfortable." I can't sleep at all. The pain is insane. I feel like my arm is being pulled off with a winch. I have an over-the-door neck traction kit which provides a few moments of relief. As soon as I take it off, my right arm is being set alight and it is bbq. It hurts so much I can't even describe it because I'm in too much pain to think about good descriptive words. Please, metafilter, have a thing that I can do to make it stop hurting. It's definitely a cervical compression on the root of the ulnar nerve. No doubt. It's been a full week and I'm losing it.
posted by Baby_Balrog to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I've seen someone who did body work and it helped for a few hours.
I feel like someone is stabbing my funny-bone with a steak knife. Massage is not going to fix this I think.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:11 PM on November 13, 2010

I recently went through my own herniated disc nightmare. Same thing really. Your right arm nerve is being pinched, so you want to sleep with two pillows on your right side. This will take the pressure off the cervical nerve on your right side. Anything that bends your neck a little to the left will relive the irritation.

I have to say though, I have had several nerve compressions, and they manifested themselves in numbness. Like my arm went numb. I'm not sure what makes your compression pain. I mean, ulnar nerve compression means your pinky and ring finger will be completely numb. At least that's why I had the surgery to correct it.

Are you sure in your diagnosis? Because I'm not. And I've had surgery for it. Twice. Neck and elbow.
posted by sanka at 11:13 PM on November 13, 2010

Response by poster: i guess maybe i'm not. because my rght arm is on fire. thank u for that warning.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:17 PM on November 13, 2010

Ouch, that sounds awful.

IANAD etc... but I did learn a little bit about the ulnar nerve in school. As I understand it, it's not really the "ulnar nerve" until after the brachial plexus. I know that sounds like a nitpicky semantic distinction, but if your pain is exclusively in the region innervated by the ulnar nerve, your problem may be distal to the brachial plexus - in other words, near your shoulder or in your arm somewhere.

Was there anything that precipitated this pain you are feeling? What were you doing when you first noticed it? Are there any positions that make it feel better or worse? Does rotating your arm at the shoulder affect the pain?

Best wishes, and I hope you feel better soon. I've found ibuprophen and warm compresses to be helpful for my own back pain.
posted by abirae at 11:29 PM on November 13, 2010

I had a herniated disc & subsequent surgery. Mine was l5-s1, however, so I'm not sure how well my advice translates. I am not a doctor.

Ice. As much as you can stand.
Try naproxen sodium rather than ibuprofen. It's a different kind of NSAID, and you may respond to it differently.
When trying to sleep, use pillows to get your body in a "neutral" position, where you put as little weight as possible on the area. My wife bought me a body pillow and a cervical pillow to keep my legs aligned & prevent the back from twisting.

I wonder if a cervical brace (from walgreen's or etc) would help.
posted by boo_radley at 12:02 AM on November 14, 2010

Get a prescription from your MD for physical therapy, then go to www.apta.org and find someone in your area who is an OCS = Orthopedic Certified Specialist. They will have the skills to a) figure out what exactly is wrong; and b) treat it, or refer you to someone who can.
posted by jennyjenny at 12:27 AM on November 14, 2010

About two years ago my shoulders (both of them at once, woot) did this sort of thing - complete overwhelming can't think pain. Next morning I had no strength in either arm and minimal sensation; took months to get it all back. They never did tell me exactly what happened.

In your position I would still try massage (I sat in one of those cheesy massage chairs at the drug store waiting for my painkillers and steroids, and I think the chair helped the most) and at night the neutral sleeping position thing boo_radley described.

Good luck!
posted by SMPA at 5:38 AM on November 14, 2010

Go to the ER. They will at least (probably) give you pain meds until you can see your doctor.
posted by amro at 7:18 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding the ER. Not going to solve base cause, but this is too much pain for a person to try stomach any longer.
posted by MeiraV at 8:44 AM on November 14, 2010

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