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Partial loss of use of left hand
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Partial loss of use of left hand

Yesterday half my left hand suddenly went numb.  Mainly affects my 2 smaller fingers.  Not completely paralyzed, I can move my fingers, but they don't "go where I tell them"; I can flex them, but can't completely straighten them.  This is extremely distressing, as I make a substantial portion of my living as a musician (I'm a guitarist) - I had to cancel a studio session today, as I am unable to play.

Could this be related to stenosis of the neck?  I was diagnosed several years ago, after I was rear-ended in a car accident - I've had neck and shoulder stiffness ever since.

A couple other issues which may be related:
Strange headaches started in January, appeared in an arch above and around my left ear.  Antibiotics (RX'd for 'sinus infection') had no affect, meanwhile a "cold/numb patch" appeared on the outer side of my left calf.  Dr dismissed the cold patch ("some peripheral neuropathy is normal at your age, ignore it..." - went away within a week) and prescribed Soma 350mg for neck pain (speculating the headache might be connected to my stenosis).  My wife read about Soma side-effects and begged me not to take it, so I tried another Dr, who prescribed physical therapy.  Some stretching exercises and the headaches went away.  (came back a few months later, and re-occur from time to time, less severe & only lasting a few minutes)

PLUS, intermittent itching on the sole of my left foot;
brief numbness in left palm and fingers 3 weeks ago (lasted about 1/2 hour);
numbness outer half of left foot about a week ago (lasted 3 or 4 days);
ocular migraines and "flashing lights" in peripheral vision (I've had these for years)

Then there's the (unrelated?) 4-month-still-undiagnosed swollen ankle condition (including persistent 'wet' feeling both ankles) described here: http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Arthritis/painful-swollen-ankles/show/1737031

Help?
Avatar_dr_m_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.

Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Sorry to hear that the numbness has affected your job and quality of life. From the distribution of numbness you are describing in your left hand, one differential to consider is an ulnar compressive neuropathy.
The ulnar nerve supplies innervation to muscles in the forearm and hand and provides sensation over the medial half of the fourth and the entire fifth digit of the hand (which you are describing), the ulnar part of the palm, and the ulnar portion of the posterior aspect of the hand.
The most common site of entrapment is at or near the elbow region, especially in either the region of the cubital tunnel, also known as the ulnar groove. The second most likely location of entrapment is at or near the wrist, especially in the area of the anatomic structure called Guyon's canal. However, entrapment can occur in the forearm between these 2 regions, below the wrist within the hand, or above the elbow.
If mild, then symptoms just involve numbness or tingling in the site of distribution of the ulnar nerve as described above. However, if compression gets worse then it can affect hand grip strength.
Given your history of car accident and pathology of the neck, another diagnosis to consider is a compressive cervical radiculopathy which can give sensory changes in your arms, however more often the more proximal parts of the arm are usually involved, not just the hand.
From the brief description you give of the headache, it is insufficient to give a diagnosis but you may just have migraines with visual auras. Likely they are unrelated to your left hand numbness but I am not sure.
You may benefit by seeing a neurologist so that he/she can do a neurological exam on your left hand.
Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck
3 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks, I saw a neurologist, who said pretty much the same thing.  They did an EMG (gave me a series of unpleasant electric shocks) and verified the problem was my ulnar nerve in my elbow.  (Still don't know about the other symptoms, but they appear to be unrelated)

He told me to avoid leaning on my elbow and other activities that stress the nerve (such as sleeping with my elbow bent).  The condition has greatly improved over the past couple weeks, I'm able to play guitar again, for a few minutes at a time.  Dr said I should fully recover over the next few months.  
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Glad to hear that. Take care
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