Azalea’s “Ask an Orthopedist” service allows anyone to submit orthopedic questions online. Recently, a patient reached out with this issue involving a previous injury:
Question: Eleven years ago I had plates and screws put in my left ulna and radius due to a very serious break. The doctor who had done the surgery told me that I would never be able to remove the plates due to how significant the injury was.
Well I have never really had much problem with it, until about a week ago when I started getting really sharp stinging pains and muscle failure through the ulna side and every now and then I am unable to completely close or squeeze with my had.
It hurts throughout the day but I manage to carry on with my daily tasks, but at night while I’m asleep I will get this sharp shooting pain through my arm as if someone had just hit me with a bat. If I attempt to rub or apply pressure to the area even a slight touch it makes my arm go numb from my elbow to my ring finger. I would really like to figure out what this might be and how to fix it so if anyone can help I would greatly appreciate it thank you.
Answer: It sounds as if you are having some irritation of the ulnar nerve – the nerve you hit when you hit your “funny bone” and your hand tingles. There could be some association with your previous surgery if one of the screws has backed out a little and is causing the irritation, but most of the time the problem stems from the elbow region. I would recommend an appointment with an orthopedist for an evaluation and x-rays.
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