The last time I went to see an orthopedic doctor in spring 2021, it felt like a complete waste of time other than the exercise I got walking to and from the office. The staff seemed nonchalant. The doctor barely spent five minutes with me, nor did she seem to know anything about my cubital tunnel syndrome. They took an x-ray of my spine, but never bothered doing one of my hands or arms… you know, the area where I was actually having pain. I wondered in my head how orthopedic doctors got paid so much to do so little; is that what happens when you spend an insane amount on medical school tuition — you just get paid a lot to do absolutely nothing to genuinely care for patients…?! What a reward! That idiot doctor sent me to a neurologist to do some nerve testing to see if I had any nerve damage. I did not, and that neurologist sent my results to that doctor… And of course, she never followed up. I never even got a copy of my results.
This time, I got referred by my OB-GYN to an orthopedic doctor, specifically someone who specializes in hand and wrist, which makes sense given why I want to see this specialist at all. I quickly Googled the guy’s name, and not only is he apparently an award-winning physician, but he also seems to get good reviews from patients in terms of his bedside manner and general competence. So I went, and everything went really efficiently, from checking in, filling out paperwork, discussing my condition with the medical assistants, getting a (gasp) hand and arm x-ray, and the doctor came in pretty quickly. He asked me how I was feeling, discussed my condition as he examined me, tested some points for pain (well, pretty much everywhere), and then demonstrated how the tendons, ligaments, and bones are all connected and what had gone wrong with me. He also talked about how pregnancy and postpartum fluid retention makes pregnant and postpartum women more susceptible to de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. He said his wife had the same condition, albeit earlier than I did, in her third trimester of pregnancy, and how he administered the same shot for her. He discussed our options, mainly being the cortisone/steroid shot, potential risks (there are traces of this detected in breast milk, as he did ask if I was still breastfeeding). As suspected, my right side is far worse and stiffer than my left. He didn’t seem that concerned with my left side but did express he was worried about my right. He said we’d start with one cortisone shot today. In 6-8 weeks, if it’s still not 100 percent, we’d do another shot. And if that didn’t do the trick, surgery would be our last and most serious option. I really hope we don’t have to come to that.
So I got the shot in my right wrist, and yes, it hurt like hell for about 3 seconds, after the doctor gave me a cooling numbing spray. It immediately felt looser, which is what he said he expected, but he also said I may experience a flare up of pain after the numbing spray wears off after 2-3 hours. But in 24-48 hours, I should experience immediate relief. I had the option to do my left side, as well, but decided to hold off a week or two to see how my right side fared… plus, I don’t want to be incapacitated in BOTH hands — I’d feel totally useless. They told me not to do any heavy lifting for the next 2-4 days, but to try to lightly move my right thumb as much as possible to regain mobility in the tendon.
Fingers crossed that this all works, as who the heck wants to get surgery, even if it’s outpatient??