Left hand contracture

Posted by brando920 @brando920, Sep 1, 2019

I’ve been dealing with a contracture left hand cents September 10 2016 I’ve tried physical therapy, ot therapy & pain medicine & they can’t came up with a disease or telling me what the cause of it but I have increased muscle tone I can’t bend the arm I have numbness

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Bless your heart I'll pray for you, I've been burning,stabbing,numbness,on my left side from the waist up and the pain is unbearable everyday so I know about nerve pain! They say I have Chiari malformation and want to cut a whole in my head and I'm freaking out! My husband is against it, but my husbands not in pain! What do you think?


Hi, @brando920 – that must be difficult with no answers as to why this left hand contracture is happening. I am not at all a doctor, but I did see this information on mayoclinic.org that reminded me of what you are describing – maybe something to run by your personal physician https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dupuytrens-contracture/symptoms-causes/syc-20371943

I'd like to bring in @jenniferhunter and @hopeful33250 for any input they may have on your situation from their own neurologic experiences.

Did the PT or OT affect the situation at all, brando920?


@brando920 If I'm understanding your description, you are unable to bend your arm at the elbow and the forearm is solid feeling with increased muscle tone? and this is causing numbness in your arm or hand? I'm also guessing that traditional physical therapy of strengthening or forced range of motion didn't help. What I suggest is to try myofascial release, and you may be able do some of it yourself.

When there is a problem like an injury, the body braces to try to protect itself. Over time, the muscles start to get stuck together as the fascia gets tight. I have had this situation because of thoracic outlet syndrome and a whiplash neck injury that happened years ago and I still catch myself raising my shoulder involuntarily. My therapist does myofascial release and when she began, she could not feel the separate muscles in my neck, and it didn't move correctly, and the tightness extends into the chest wall. I have been doing MFR for this for several years, during which time, I developed cervical spinal stenosis and had spine surgery. I am back to working on the TOS again in therapy. She described it to me as wearing a straight jacket and because my chest muscles were tight, it affected my ability to expand my rib cage to breathe. Your situation sounds similar, but in a different location. There is probably a compressed nerve causing the muscle tension and it might be compressed because of tight fascia or scar tissue from an injury or something else like a mass putting pressure on the nerve. You may want to see a neurologist to try to determine the source of a nerve problem and MRI imaging might be ordered depending on the exam with a neurologist.

With MFR, you don't need to know exactly where a problem is, and you start releasing the tight layers of fascia and work through them. It is like the layers of an onion and you find more layers the deeper you get. A good manual MFR therapist can feel with their hands where the tension is and how it travels through your body. MFR work is a gentle stretch and you hold it and wait for the fascia to start to slide. As it changes, the therapist may change the angle of the stretch and keep holding for 20 minutes. The results can be dramatic and I would encourage you to try this. Look for an expert level MFR therapist trained in the John Barnes methods. One thing my PT does with me is to stretch my arms by pulling with 2 people holding my wrists as I lay on my back on the table. This can open up tight chest muscle and stretch all the way to the wrists. It's a gentle sustained pull, and you can try that with a couple friends. If it hurts, stop. These stretches should go just to the barrier of resistance and hold it there and wait. You friends should just lean rather than exerting themselves to pull on your arms. Pay attention and you will become aware and feel it when tissue starts to slide. It might feel like a tingle. Be patient. It takes a long time to work through a problem that developed over years.

A compression of a nerve anywhere along it's path can cause problems even if the pain is felt further down the path. I have this because of thoracic outlet syndrome where the nerve bundles get compressed under the collarbone or under the pec minor muscle in the chest near the arm pit and it has caused numbness if my arms and hand, spontaneous muscle contractions (twitching) and cramping in my palm. The bending of my elbow has also increased symptoms because it stretches the ulnar nerve a bit that is called the "funny bone" and this is the nerve involved when I see the pinky side of my palm contract. Nerves can also be compressed where they exit the spine in-between the vertebrae. The dermatome map shows the area on the surface of the body in relation to which spinal nerve innervates that part of the body, and it might be a clue to follow the path of a specific nerve to find the point of compression. Here is a dermatome map. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermatome_(anatomy)#/media/File:Gray812and814.PNG

Here is our discussion on MFR where there is a lot more information. MFR has helped me a lot to recover normal movement and helped make my spine surgery easier for the doctor and made by recovery easier because the muscles had less tension. It helped recovery and helps break the tightness of the surgical scar tissue in the fascia. There is a provider search at https://myofascialrelease.com/find-a-therapist/
Here is our discussion about MFR with a lot of links and information.


Hello @brando920, I would like to welcome you to Connect. I am so sorry to hear of this problem with contracture. I can only imagine how much it must impact your life and your ability to take care of yourself.

You said in your post that you have been experiencing this problem since 2016. Has it been getting worse or has it stayed the same? Were there any injuries prior to this problem like falls, auto or work accidents, etc.?

I'm also wondering if you have been able to get a second opinion from a multi-disciplinary health system like a university medical school or a facility like Mayo Clinic.

As you are comfortable doing so, please share more about yourself. At Connect we care and would like to encourage and support you in your journey.


Hello @brando920

It has been a few months since you first posted about the hand contractures. I hope you are doing better.

Have you found anything that has helped?

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