OT: Hand numbness, machining related?
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  1. #1
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    Default OT: Hand numbness, machining related?

    Have any of you had issues with your hands or arms going numb while you sleep, and/or daytime too depending on position and think it could be related to tendon/nerve damage after years of machining/welding and moving material around? I've had to be careful with carpel tunnel for 12+years and kept it under control.

    A few months ago after about a year of spending 80+hr/wk in the shop(still mostly manual lathe/mill work). I started waking up with numb fingers/hands or whole forearm, sometimes left, sometimes right, or both, but its usually 4 fingers and pinky doesn't seem numb. Then I got a little bit caught up and did some easy/light work for a few weeks and it stopped for a about month or so. Then I got into moving the shop this last month and its gotten a lot worse. Moving/lifting a lot of heavier things, a lot of scrubbing/cleaning, etc and now I'm running out of ways to move my arms around to get the tingling to stop.

    I really don't think its heart related, only early/mid 30's, half decent shape, pretty sure if I was to have a heart attack it would be over with by now... still gonna get checked in the next little while if it doesn't ease up with the move being almost over. I'll try to do a few less hours in the shop to see if it recovers, its definitely time for a few work process and life changes.

    Anyone else have something like that probably related to over use of their hands/arms?, maybe a light spinal cord damage somewhere or just tendons overworked? A few weeks ago I had 1 guy who moves metal all day mention not having felt his hands in years, but I didn't dig into it to find out more.

    thanks for your input!

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    Welcome to the old age club!

    I've fought the numbness and tingling for years, even after I got out of the shop full time. It's all around the carpel tunnel which you can't "keep under control". You're bending your wrists when you sleep. That's an easy one to stop. Go to a sporting goods store that sells bowling accessories. Get yourself 2 bowling gloves, the ones designed to keep your wrist straight. I had to wear them for about 2 years before I "learned" how to sleep. I've know a couple of guys that wear them at work. It's not a permanent fix, but you should be able to avoid surgery for a while.

    I was going to have CT surgery before I retired, but cancer got in the way. I still fight the numbness to this day!
    JR

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    Curious what you mean by being careful with and keeping carpel tunnel under control.

    3 (three!) guys in my machine shop have had surgery for carpel tunnel. All of them have mentioned to me on separate occasions waking up in the middle of the night with arms and hands completely numb because of it.

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    Not saying this is your issue.....just something I have been told by a couple of guys who I have known who spent their lives machining. They both have told me that the 2 worst things to do to your hands is cranking/hitting/torqueing on the handle of a Kurt (or similar) vise......get the knob of that handle in the palm of your hand and push day after day...no good. And using the dead blow hammer like a sledge....buy a bigger hammer and hit it once.

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    I've had the same issues related to sleep position and even daytime position on occasion. I'm nearly twice your age but it seems related to temporarily cutting off circulation either by trapping the limb under my head while sleeping or my bicep putting pressure on the forearm if I lean against the arm of a chair with my arm bent tightly (yes, I do often fall asleep in a chair in the later evening).

    The numbness goes away after I remove the pressure and circulation checks have shown as normal so I think it is similar to "my foot went asleep" which happens also to many even in childhood if abnormal pressure is applied.

    Hope this helps.

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    I feel your pain SND

    It might also be trapped nerves etc etc etc (I'm no medic ) in your shoulders, .....IME most Chiropracters will tell you the shoulder is a diabolical joint because of it's wide range of movement, which can cause problems that show themselves lower down the arms and hands.

    So it could be worth getting that checked out as well.

    FWIW my guy Michael @ Creative Chiropractic | Norfolk keeps my tingles and numbness at bay.

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    If it is a repetitive motion injury, it could be caused by your work motions (ergonomics). The best thing to do is stop the repetitive motion, make the work station conform to your body. I don't know anyone who came through CT surgery that improved, many never went back to work as the surgery destroyed them. You are way too young for this to happen.

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    No harm in getting your back checked out... Pinched nerves or irritated nerves in your back can cause issues all over your body. My right hand,leg (mainly hamstring area) and left shoulder vary from either pain or the numb feeling you mention. Leg gets the pain mainly and hand the numbness. Mine is caused from my lower back. Took numerous x-rays,scans, nerve testing to figure it out. If I sleep in an awkward position, which is quite often, then it is the norm to get a numb hand and pain shooting up my leg.

    It was mainly caused from me being an idiot when I was in my early twenties and lifting things that were too heavy in the shop and then torturing it more by playing action soccer on a hard surface and just living through the pain without getting it checked out. Then one day I lifted something, not too heavy but just like an idiot, and was stuck in an L shape because of pain. My lower spine is a bit curved so me abusing it lead to it pinching all kinds of nerves. I have learnt how to manage it in many ways and hardly have a major problem, my leg was the worst and I always thought that it was a messed up muscle but it was all back related, unless I am being an idiot... Was on meds for a while but went off them. Only really get strong anti-inflammatory when I have been an idiot maybe once or twice a year and a few injections in my butt. Come to think of it that has been a lot less frequent over the past few years.

    Note how often I have called myself an IDIOT, folks dont realise how much it takes from your body to be on your feet the whole day. I jokingly tell my friends that they shouldn't tell me that they have had a tough day at the office till they come and work in a shop for a few months. Look after yourself man, I am also in my early/mid thirties and after our generation I don't see too many guys raising their hands to become machinists.

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    I wake with numb arms/hands/fingers occasionally, I am also in my thirties. Can't really find a pattern to it, pretty sure it's not work or health related. I think I am just lying awkwardly on them when I sleep. Feeling returns rapidly after becoming aware of it and moving my arm around vigorously.

    Pretty unnerving though when you wake up like that...

    Edit: didn't read your OP carefully enough, didn't notice the part about numbness through the day. I've never experienced that so have nothing to offer, sorry.

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    For what its worth.. My numbness story.. I screwed up my left shoulder doing something stupid (heavy)
    about 8 years ago.

    Now, either my shoulder hurts like hell and I can't raise my arm over my head and my hand is fine..
    OR my shoulder is fine and my pinky finger and ring finger get a little numb..

    I'll take the little bit of numbness in the fingers over the huge pain in the shoulder any day..

    I also slept on my right arm in just the wrong way last night, and while half asleep raised my arm
    and it fell down and I punched myself square in the nose.

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    Yup. Numb right pinky and ring finger. Limited range of motion in my right shoulder. I have no strength in my right arm when it gets above level.

    Dealt with it a few years ago with a chiropractor and physiotherapist, and it went away/got better, a bit. But the last year it's been coming back worse than ever. Doctor said he wanted to hold off on surgery because I was young (30 at the time). Need to go back and see him (or a different one) again.

    If I'm off work for extended periods of time (long weekend) it gets a bit better, but first time I reach for that jog handle on the control it's back instantly.

    I'm actually contemplating a career change somewhat because of it.

    Whoever decided machine controls should be at chest level and vertical is a dick. Horizontal or a slight angle at waist level would be a much better choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by D Dubeau View Post

    Whoever decided machine controls should be at chest level and vertical is a dick. Horizontal or a slight angle at waist level would be a much better choice.
    I have also though about that... I am 6'5-6 and I sometimes wonder why on some machines I need to raise my arm up so high just to punch a few buttons. Get's tedious and actually quite strenuous when punching in a program finger cam style.

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    If you have access to insurance and medical care (Oh, right - Canada), see a doctor asap. No point AT ALL waiting, faster you get some answers the sooner you can resolve them, or at least learn ways to mitigate the damage.

    I'm almost sixty and haven't had the numbness you speak of, but then, the last thirty-plus years have been mostly CNC, not manual work. I did recently start getting signs of arthritis, but it's a little more age-appropriate I expect.

    One thing you could try if you have access to a decent FLIR-type thermal imager (not just a infrared thermometer) is to take readings of your hands just after you wake up (don't drop the imager - they're expensive!), and then a couple times during the day to see if there's a blood flow relationship to the numbness. I'm not a doctor (duh), but if your heart is slowing more than ideal during sleep and pumping too little blood it could affect functioning of extremities.

    The other thing to check is whether increasing your sleep environment temperature improves blood flow, as when your room gets colder at night blood will be restricted to the extremities. If this sounds possible, get a mattress heating pad, and maybe an additional blanket to allow for a warmer sleep without having to pump-up the room temp (much cheaper and faster to adjust). Not too warm, that can make sleeping more difficult itself.

    Still should get yourself to a doctor...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRIowa View Post
    Welcome to the old age club!
    Can I decline my membership, or at least stop paying dues?

    I was going to have CT surgery before I retired, but cancer got in the way. I still fight the numbness to this day!
    JR
    Hope the cancer fight is going well, I'd trade some hand ailments over that any day...

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    It might also be peripheral neuropathy. Get checked for diabetes. Just because the reason is “obvious,” don’t overlook other possibilities.

    i have it in both feet.

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    I had numbness in my hands and arms for a number of years. Then I guess the situation peaked when I ruptured my biceps tendon in my right arm. This turned out to be a long painful ordeal. Recovery was a year till the doctor told me I was good to go. But it was really another year before I started to really get it back. It's amazing how much muscle you lose if you don't use it for a year.

    Now I never experience that numbness like I used to. I think time healed quite a bit. But I've also started doing things quite a bit different than I used to. Mostly out of fear for another injury.

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    That's a real tough question to reply to but my answer is "maybe". I was a tool and die maker for a couple of decades and that meant most of the day was spent on the manual surface grinder. The repetitive motion of back/forth on the table while cranking on the saddle and down-feed should have left me with CT. All the years before that were as a manual machinist and heavy lifting. I never had any issues that lasted beyond immediate injury. I've been doing just computer/CAD work for the last 10 years and have (lately) developed a creeping numbness in 3 fingers of the right hand. I suppose it could be CT but why hadn't it showed up before that? I do suspect it had something to do with a multi-month session of working on a car in the garage where I laid on my right shoulder a lot in a cramped condition. I would suggest that whatever is afflicting you that you get it checked out as it's not likely to get better, it will get worse. I've not known anybody that had favorable results from surgery so I'd seek out a real massage therapist, not the rub-n-tug type. Real therapeutic massage will likely hurt so if it doesn't the therapist is likely from one of the massage disciplines that won't help you. It's not very expensive, non-invasive, and can possibly sort things out in a few sessions. The real therapists aren't always easy to find but well worth the money paid. The abuse we put our bodies through adds up over the years. You're a machine, the hoses and wires get pinched by the frame over the decades and have to periodically be set back in the proper location.

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    I had similar issues for a long while. It turned out to be the muscles in my forearms squeezing nerves. The muscles were overdeveloped from strenuous hand use. Putting pressure on them while sleeping would make my hand go to sleep, and get numb while holding something. You can probably find and area to squeeze in the fleshy part of your forearm that will affect your hand. Seeing massage therapists for soft tissue work made it go away for me. Find someone big and strong who knows what they are doing and let them have their way with your arms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    Can I decline my membership, or at least stop paying dues?...
    Action ;- Your request has been read and processed.

    Decision taken ;- Request denied.

    Conclusion ;- Tough titty.



























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    just happened last night. couple other times too.


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