Getting some nerve back: nature + faith

ulnar nerve palsyEver since my accident last October, I haven’t been able to feel my pinky finger on my left hand, or part of the ring finger, or the front and back of the hand below those fingers.How big a deal is a pinky finger you might ask?I might have thought it wasn’t that big a deal before I lost the ability to feel and really use mine.You’d be amazed at how often you use that finger. Among other things, I now know I would use it to:cutting your foodholding a wineglassrock climbingplaying hockeydriving the carputting on a ponytailclappingholding handsholding anythingquality lesbian sexkeyboardingWestern medicine calls what I have ulnar nerve palsy. Turns out that our nerves supply the charge to your muscles. Without that charge, the muscles atrophy (check out the big scoop between my thumb and forefinger and then look at your own). All this means that after months and months of therapy I now have a left hand that’s about half as strong as my right hand and nowhere near as delft or agile.So what do the doctors have to say about all this Will it come back to normal?They’re quite succinct: “we don’t know.”Other than physically manipulating my fingers every day so that they don’t stay too “clawed” (as you can see) when the nerve comes back, there’s not much to do.Not having anything to do or any knowledge if I’m going to get this back has been difficult. i’ve seen a holistic chiropractor who has encouraged me to hum to send energy down the fluid around the nerve. I’ve also been encouraged to imagine / visualize using my left hand normally as well as my right hand to keep the neural pathways open and healing. One energy healer at a party did reiki on it and another friend prayed for it.Energy healing is a frickin hilarious punchline, until you need it (ok, even if you need it, it’s still pretty funny).Basically I’ve stepped into the large void in which science has not yet given us answers. And so what is there? Faith. Faith that it will come back, that my attitude and belief can help make that happen.I have chosen that for the very rational reason that it’s the only thing I can do and I very much wish to do something. Holding the attitude of “we’ll see whatever the hell happens to my hand happens” is not so comforting.In the off chance there is some yet-to-be-charted quantum affect of my attitude and mental decision affecting my body’s healing, then I certainly have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing it.I suppose that goes for the prayer and the energy healing too.The great news is that this week’s EMG revealed that my nerve has regenerated some. Why this has happened I don’t know. Medicine doesn’t seem to know either. They conjecture that the surgery relieved some pressure on the nerve. But do I now look to science and faith to encourage the rest of whatever healing I’ll get.All science has to say to me at the moment is, “I don’t know” and “You’ll get whatever you’re going to get within 18 months of the surgery” which was last March.Is faith just a way of approaching what science can’t yet explain?My belief and mind can say whatever I choose to have them say.I choose full recovery.What do you think?

25 Responses to “Getting some nerve back: nature + faith”

  1. Alex Says:

    Hi, Thanks for your post here!
    My little finger and my ring finger have been numb for years.
    Eventually they started curling and now I have no function of these two fingers. Just like you I now have a “dent” between my thumb and my index finger. The neurologists want me to do “Ulnar Nerve” surgery, to try to release the nerve. They told me this would help so that it doesn’t get any worse, but that the motor skills in these two fingers might never return. I wish you all the luck! I am not sure when I will be able to have my surgery because even thou my insurance will cover it, my deductible of 500 bucks is too steep for me! Anyway, thanks again for your post here. it was nice to find someone with my same problem!

  2. sg Says:

    I have this problem too, through injury to my ulnar nerve above my elbow so i have muscles wasting away all down my arm and limited use of my hand. I hope you guys get better but seriously, have you actually read a single success story where a nerve regenerates? I havent so i kind of have given up hoping for it.

  3. subvert » ulnar nerve palsy update Says:

    [...] Original post +  photo  6/13/07   [...]

  4. dana michelle Says:

    my left hand looks exactly the same!! It started about 8 years ago with my left pinky and has progressively gotten worse over time, moving to my ring finger and same index-thumb scoop. It also started in my right hand but about 2 years behind. I have consistantly pointed it out to several doctors over the years and they all just brushed it off. I was a competitive swimmer at the national/college level and had ongoing shoulder problems resulting rotator cuff surgery just prior to the onset on symptoms which also include muscle spasm and pain/tingling throughout my shoulder blades, neck, and clavicle region. I have an MRI on saturday so hopefully i will finally have some answers. I have never seen someone whos hand was so similar to mine! I have knew someone who had been able to repair damaged nerves in limbs to regain 85% usage so it can be done! The body and mind can do some remarkable things so don’t give up :)

  5. Alex Says:

    How did the MRI go?

  6. T7L70 Says:

    I was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome apprx. 1 month ago, I have had severe syptoms for roughly 3 months (my hand looking exactly like yours in blog pictures), I just had surgery last monday 6/30/08.

    nerve transposition…. heres what i look like today

    lets see if all this pain, and, soon to be, long road of recovery, was worth my time,…. I sure hope so

  7. taylor Says:

    well im 13 turning 14 and my left pinkie is all numb and some times my left ring finger goes numb too, also my middle finger ring finger and pinkie is like curved and i cant put them strait. i dont no whats wrong with them but i think i might have this. should i go see a doctor?

  8. Alex Says:

    Hi Taylor, yes! Go see a doctor. They will reffer you to a neurologist to do some nerve tests in your arm. It will not hurt, but it will let you know where to go next and what is wrong. My 4th and 5th (dumb and pinkie) fingers no longer function. they are permanantly closed and I cannot stretch them. I was going to have the same surgery T7L70 (thanks for sharing BTW), but I have been diagnosed with MS so “phisically” decompressing my Ulnar Nerve will not help me. Maybe your doctor will recomend an MRI. Search Google for “Ulnar Claw Hand” or similar terms, you will get some good info! let us know and much luck to you!
    …T7L70… give us an update! Did you have th eUlnar Nerve Decompressed? is your hand better?

  9. jen mil Says:

    I cut through my ulnar nerves with glass..:( skateboarding..the rushed me to the ER bleeding alot…sewed me up and sent me on my way 3 months later the hand looked like a claw no feeling in eaither finger…throbbing movement i had ulnar repair surgery on the two fingers leaving a scar all the way from the top of my palm to like 4 inches down my wrist two tubes were placed to converge the gap between the two nerves and eventually the nerves supposed to grow around it and reconnect to the other side giving me function its a bummmmer:( everyday things seem to be alot more difficult..i want to go into the coast guard faith seems like the only path for me at this time waiting and hoping for Gods healing…..btw my hand looks exactly like urs!

  10. Gabby311 Says:

    I cut the palm of my hand at work, polishing a wine glass. I had to get some stitches. Ever since the numbing agent wore off, I can not feel my pinky and ring finger. It was about 2 weeks ago. Its numb, but if I rub my fingers its painful. No one understands and thinks I am nuts. Could I get a settlement if it is a forever problem, you think?

    They say if I cannot feel my fingers, how does it hurt? I really don’t know, but it does. Can you get something for pain, it hurts?

  11. Virginia Briguglio Says:

    Crushed my hand and arm in Dec 07, was told that I broke my wrist at the first ER, went to 2nd ER 2 days later as the pain was terrible. They said I did not break my wrist. 1st doctor turned out to be the physicians assistant and was not sure of what to do. Changed doctors and was casted, then went for therapy. After a few weeks they thought the cast had been to tight as my pinkie and ring fingers had gone numb! After last cast came off the fingers curled into a claw. My neuro. says that the nerve is damaged, the ortho I see now calls it nerve palsy. Went to a hand specialist and was told that my prognosis is poor at best, and need micro-surgery on ulnar nerve at elbow, and wrist. Also need the joints broken to try and straighten the fingers to a more suitable position. Working on getting this all scheduled via the insurance carrier

  12. John W. Says:

    A dog bite severed my ulnar nerve. I’m having a nerve graft surgery in two days. The doctor expects me to regain sensation in my hand, but not the motor function. He suggested doing a tendon transfer surgery to improve my grip, but it just sounds horrible. My right hand looks just like the hand pictured. I’m uninsured, suing, and hoping for the best. Anyone else had the tendon transfer?

  13. simeon mcclain Says:

    I’m sooooooooo glad I read your letter. I have had the same problem as you for over 20 years. You should see the hole between my thumb and finger. I to have no use in my last to fingers. I really have a claw hand, with the last two fingers bent with no feeling at all. I also relieve that someone has the same problem as I. Keep the faith. If you have any ideas maybe I can get help. my hand is getting worse!!! Take care and God bless you!!!

  14. Virginia Briguglio Says:

    Had my surgery Oct 2008, after much discussion with the insurance carrier. My fingers are somewhat straighter, but I am one year plus post injury and still have zero feeling in the pinkie and ring fingers and on the palm side of my hand and little feeling on the outside of the hand!
    I have developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome from the original injury that has spread to my hip also. I am fighting for a wheelchair as I am quite unsteady on my feet, and fall often

  15. Wendy Johnston Says:

    I am having the same problem after falling and cutting my palm on glass. I have “pins and needles” throughout my ring finger and pinkie, I cannot feel my pinkie at all and the outside of my ring finger as well as the front and back outside part of my hand. I would really like to talk to anyone who has had this problem via email. I do have a myspace account if anyone is interested in talking to me about this.
    I just injured myself new years day, so I am hoping maybe the feeling will come back eventually. I would like to hear more about what you have been through, I would also love to hear some success stories too!

  16. jonathan Says:

    yeah i lost feeling in my pinkie and i rub it and it does hurt and people say the same thing to me but I think my nerve will heal up, god has healed the pink cut which was cut in half and i could see the bone god healed it in 1 week. IM starting to feel my finger alot more and I can move it alot too.

  17. Cliff Says:

    Hi fellow claw-handers! I’m a 27 year old male who works doing plumbing. I also have a B. A. in Philosophy and have lots to say on Science and Faith. Anyway, I severed my ulnar nerve along with all my tendons four months ago when a toilet I was working on broke. I had a three hour surgery the next day that I was permited to watch. It was amazing how exact and precise the two surgeons were. Just one hundred years ago I would be left a cripple. The reason I am writing is to say that just four months post op even though I still have pretty bad clawing and a weakened hand I can already do almost everything I need to. I am also already able to feel some nerve sensation at the tip of my pinky finger. I am pretty confident I am going to make an almost full recovery. I attribute this to my age, my health, my active lifestyle, my awesome doctors, and the prayers of others. I also wanted to respond to the people above injured at work; always consult an attorney. I wish you all a full recovery.

  18. Heather Says:

    Wow! Hi everyone. So many responses!

    I was not allowed by my lawyers to write about this while I was dealing with stuff related to my accident but now I can. It was also really hard to think more about this in the early days of my healing because just reading about the issue and thinking about it gave me a little nausea. Some part of my body / mind just didn’t want to feel about the accident and surgeries. And, let’s face it , the idea of accepting a permanent problem is not a good one.

    I still hold onto hope for full healing but it has been a while since the surgery.

    I am in much better shape today. I’ll post a new picture soon and address everyone’s points in another post. I no longer have a claw in my hand and the space between my thumb and pointer finger has filled in a good bit. Western medicine didn’t exactly predict that so who knows what’s possible? The EMGs after the second surgery (which transposed my ulnar nerve to the front of my arm and had a lot of scar tissue pressing on it cut away) showed more nerve activity. I did have to get a second, smaller wedding ring because my fingers shrank so much that the other one was falling off ( our rings were not expensive, just meaningful).

    I have some sensation regained but it’s odd. I have temperature in parts of my wrist and hand and some variances of touch but only super-light touch parts of th outside of the hand. Firm pressure only shows up in spots. The conductions slowed down too so that if a glass with a cold drink touches the inside of my wrist the temperature slowly works its way down my 4th and 5th finger.

    The thing I miss the most is full grip strength. It’s gone from the entire hand as it was. But I plan to keep using it and hopefully it can return.

    I’m sorry to hear about everyone else troubles with this. I was told that if the nerve had been cleanly cut that re-growth would be more likely. Mine was crushed by a metal grate on a bridge that I fell on (which also cut open my arm/fractured the elbow). So if you cut yours with glass, have hope. the body is unbelievably intelligent and knows how to heal.

    Keeping tightness out of the shoulder and neck area is helpful. I still need help with it at times ( my whole left side was impacted in the accident) but i think it helps the nerve.

    In general I’d say talk with people who give you hope. Many doctors don’t know how to do that. They’re not necessarily trained in that. And even if it’s not the “scientific answer” to the physical injury it has a lot to do with how you live with what you have. if nothing else this accident taught me experientially that a positive attitude is everything. It’s a way of making a choice even when you feel other choices (eg to use all of your hand) may be gone.

    To those who have had to put insurance deductibles and insurance concerns before your health, I am truly sorry. The priorities of the system in the US are completely screwed up.
    Some public hospitals (like sfgh) have sliding scale programs. Law suits are a dumb, shitty substitute for a better system of health care coverage and payment. What’s saddest is that the doctors don’t seem to get paid that much in the system. The whole thing, dealing with bills and craziness (eg thousands for a mile-long ambulance ride) for a couple of years. It’s a relief for it to be over.

    Finally, I’d say it was the Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists who have been the most practically helpful. They understand quality of life and how the body operates in a way that it seems surgeons do not. They do different things and they have been incredibly helpful to me.

    My surgeons were also excellent ( I was surprised to learn that one who assisted was aplastic surgeon. I didn’t know they operated inside arms). But surgeons don’t deal with daily recovery and they’re sense of how things are doing is different that the OTs and PTs. Soft muscle tissue help including bodywork and some kid of PT manipulation really helped with comfort and I believe had an impact on getting some of my recovery.

    I have a bunch of video from the accident. I’ve wanted to make a video of the experience and treatment and healing I did have. Reading your replies makes me feel it could be useful to some folks, even to just know you’re not alone.

    I also learned that focussing on what I can do (vs what I don’t yet have back) helps me build up good feeling and the resource to stretch the abilities of my hand.

    That’s all the tricks and lessons I can think of for now. Many thanks to everyone who shared their experiences.

  19. elaine mcintosh Says:

    my pinky suffered nerve damage in a mva. it took at least a year, but all

    feeling returned.

    This time the damage is in my foot-mva -again and it has been a year, and the pain and tingling remain. But I have faith for a supernatural healing. and a compensatory damage settlement.

    A young man was sending a text message ran a red light and totalled my car.

  20. Paula Grubbs Says:

    I can feel all the pain here. I am wondering what has made all of the people that have posted on here to have all the surgery and trouble with the ulnar nerve?

    I was in a car accident that moved all my “junk” around according to my doctor. I had a guy pull out in front of me and I t-boned him going about 45 mph. It broke his car in half and my car drove over the top of his.

    When I went to the ER I found out I had a broke collar bone and a separated shoulder. Many months later I am still in PAIN and a lot if it. In my wrist and elbow. Upon seeing 2 doctors locally nothing was wrong with me.

    So I sought out a doctor a few hours away. Who finds out how many things were not where they were suppose to be in my wrist and elbow.

    So the first round of surgery. Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Repair (TFCC Repair) the ligament was torn,stretched, scared down over the radial head of the bone in wrist. Meaning it’s a ligament on the left side of the wrist that was looped around the right side of my wrist.

    So that problem caused me to have de Quervain syndrome which was released.

    The pisiform bone had been push into the end of the ulnar nerve and shredded it, and moved it to the joint space in my wrist. So that bone is no longer with me.

    The elbow..I had a 3 cm neuroma another torn ligament. Partial release of the ulnar nerve.

    Today I get the news that I am headed back to the OR for Cubital tunnal release, and ulnar nerve tanspositioning surgery. So surgery is scheduled for January 8, 2010.

    With everything that I have done I am wondering how much pain is involved with this surgery? How was rehab? How long were you off work? Anyone have any other photos. I was so very shocked at the photos on here.


  21. Laura B Says:

    My 15 year old daughter’s right hand, pinky and ring finger turned into her palm last August. The first sign was over one year ago, when we noticed that she couldn’t bend her pinky back. Now, the two fingers are completely turned in. She has numbness and tingling when she tries to straighten them or when her arm or neck is touched. We have been to numerous doctors, several tests including MRI’s of the head, hand, cervical. As well as an EMG and bloodwork with no diagnosis. She is having difficulty writing and participating in gym and sports. Has anyone experienced this? There was no known physical injury.

  22. Saroj Thapa Says:

    one of my friend whose nerve was cut of from the wrist 8 years ago. There was treatment going on but stopped because of financial problem 8 years ago and now she cannot catch and her grip is lost and she cannot move her fingers and hand properly. Can anyone have the same problem. Can any one tell me will that hand be repair after 8 years. Please write back.

  23. Anthony Says:

    I really understand all the suffering going on here. I first developed ulnar tunnel syndrome before I even started puberty. I was 12 years old and I was doing activities such as cycling and even weight lifting (both of which are known to cause the condition). I started to notice that the 4th and 5th fingers of my right hand wouldn’t straighten out properly and I began to see a hollowing between my forefinger and thumb. At the time I didn’t really understand what was going on so I kind of ignored it. Little did I know that this long term ulnar tunnel syndrome would leave me with a fully atrophied right hand (i’m also right handed) all throughout my teenage years and into adulthood. I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with this disability because i’ve always led an active lifestyle and the condition has made me quite insecure over the years and has robbed me of my ability to perform well in many different sports and basic household activities. I had an operation to release the entrapped ulnar nerve in spring 2015 but i’ve seen no improvement in hand function and its a very bleak thought to know that you’ve been impaired in what should be the prime of your life

  24. Joyce Deborde Says:

    Robot energy.

  25. Son Daly Says:

    Great article!

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