Thursday, June 09, 2005


I've gotten into reading Medical blogs now, thanks to that Internet Public Library page on blogs the other day that I mentioned (they have driven me to ruin!). I find all medical stories fascinating - think that goes back to my days of reading Frank Slaughter, M.D. books as a kid. If you get the chance, pick one of those up - they make for great reading - you can often find them in 2nd hand book stores. Anyway, I digress from my mini-stroke heading (why my English teachers loved me in school). I was reading a family doctor's blog this morning called MedPundit and she was introducing a bit of reality into the scare issue that so many of us may face mini-strokes.

"But carpal tunnel syndrome can certainly cause numbness that lasts more than 5 or 10 minutes, and it also tends to be exacerbated by a sleeping hand's position. What's more, there are, by far, more people with carpal tunnel syndrome than with mini-strokes:

Neurologists estimate that there are up to 500,000 ministrokes annually in the U.S. That compares to 700,000 full-blown strokes a year, according to the American Stroke Association .

The prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome, on the other hand, is 2.7% of the adult population - in other words, millions. The figures for degenerative disc disease are even higher.

My point isn't to minimize the significance of mini-strokes, but to temper the article's slant with a dose of reality. Not every case of numbness or dizziness warrants admission and work-up for an impending stroke. If your arm numbness gets worse when you move your neck or wrist or shoulder a certain way, then you likely have slept on it wrong.

Admitting every case of dizziness or limb numbness indiscriminately would dramatically increase the cost of healthcare. And it isn't at all clear that there would be much gained in lives saved or disabilities avoided.

Sounds like a tough call to me, as to which one you might actually be having. It's worth reading the scare issue link above as that does further explain some of the serious issues that you could be facing. Having degenerative disks at C6 and C7 myself, i recently went through a period of 3 days where I was having numbness in the fingers of my hand and in my feet, but at the same time, I was having pain in that area of my neck, so I chalked it up to the degenerative disks. If I'm wrong, you'll probably notice incoherent babbling (something like what I'm doing now), in the weeks to come.

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