February 23, 2013

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

What is the difference between Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Let's actually start at the other end of this. How are they similar? Why are they put in the same train of thought at all? Simply put: They share symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome can trigger the following symptoms:

1. Sensation of  burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers 

2. Fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent

3. Symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, since many people sleep with flexed wrists

4. One may wake up feeling the need to "shake out" the hand or wrist

5. As symptoms worsen, people might feel tingling during the day

6. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks 

7. In chronic and/or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away

8. Some people are unable to tell between hot and cold by touch

Using NINDS as a source again, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) can be broken down into three categories. Each of which have common symptoms of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. 

Neurogenic TOS has a characteristic sign, called the Gilliatt-Sumner hand, in which there is severe wasting in the fleshy base of the thumb.  Other symptoms include paresthesias (pins and needles sensation or numbness) in the fingers and hand, change in hand color, hand coldness, or dull aching pain in the neck, shoulder, and armpit. 

Venous TOS features pallor, a weak or absent pulse in the affected arm, which also may be cool to the touch and appear paler than the unaffected arm.  Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, aching, swelling of the extremity and fingers, and weakness of the neck or arm.

Arterial TOS most prominently features change in color and cold sensitivity in the hands and fingers, swelling, heaviness, paresthesias and poor blood circulation in the arms, hands, and fingers.

It should be stated that the symptoms listed above for both CTS and TOS are not an exhaustive list, but a list of most common findings. 

How are the different? 

February 19, 2013

Missing Massage

It's been about 6 months since I gave a full massage. This is the longest span of time I have ever gone without giving a session since I became a massage therapist.  I have enjoyed having fingernails. And the manicures of colored paint that come with them. I have enjoyed not having to wash sheets constantly. I have enjoyed being able to swim in the ocean in-between chapters of studying. I have appreciated not having to check my schedule to plan any little thing. I like listening to loud, brassy, beat thumping music in the middle of the day. I like riding my new green old lady tricycle to the store whenever the mood strikes. I am amused by my friends subtle (and not so subtle) strategies to try and get a bit of massage out of me while visiting.  I do not miss the feeling my right hip gets when I need to schedule a day of rest. I also don't miss having to balance a budget every night before bed. 

I miss massaging. I miss my Brooklyn clients. I miss having a day filled with personalities and challenges. I miss the smells of my aromatherapy oils. I miss how complete even an hour of caring for someone feels. I miss Peter Kater and Yo Yo Ma being my working soundtrack. I miss the potential and presence of touch. I miss the connection of therapeutic work. I miss having a day that is totally about trying to help others feel better. I miss being helpful in the way massage therapists help. 

My transcripts from The Swedish Institute: College of Health Sciences are submitted, the New York State Department is sending my license verification to Florida and my application is being processed. The final piece, the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination, is scheduled for the beginning of March. Bit by bit, putting it together. 

I have started to look for a treatment space (photos and more posts about that adventure will be coming soon!). I have also been brainstorming…how does one launch a company in a new town? A town where you only know a handful of people. How do you market yourself in a brand new place without friends or family there to help you cut the ribbon to your new office? We (my super supportive husband and I) have some ideas up our sleeves. Like any new venture - we won't know if they are GOOD ideas until we try them out! 

Needless to say, I am excited to be almost ready to plant some Mending Hands seeds in this seaside town of Sarasota. I thank all of you for your consistent support and will be inviting you to an interwebs celebration party when I am up and running!

I look forward to sharing more of this adventures as I grow and hope to have plenty of good things to report as times goes by. Soon, I will be back to massaging and that will be wonderful!

Image of the shelf in my laundry room. YES! I have a laundry room now :-)