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Yet another simple problem with a complex cause

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

WARNING: This story could freak some readers out, a minor-symptom-turned-out-to-be-cancer story, real nightmare fuel (and not just for hypochondriacs). So I will preface this, loudly and clearly, by saying that I am sharing it because I genuinely think it’s a good “teachable moment,” useful enough to justify the risk.

Physical therapist Michelle Morrow on the tingling in her right hand and forearm:

“My symptoms mimicked cubital tunnel syndrome very well and even had an acute onset after overuse.”

But it was not a common neuropathy. It was a brain tumour. 😬 Yet another case of a “simple” musculoskeletal problem that was the tip of a central/systemic iceberg.

So what’s the teachable moment? Why share a story like this, when it really could make some readers worry excessively about their tingles? The point is to combat the plague of oversimplification in sports/pain medicine, where simplistic “mechanical” diagnoses constantly drown out the messier physiological factors that are often the real story. Very few of those causes are ominous, of course, but it is the scary ones that make the most vivid examples. They remind us to think a little bigger than the traditional bogeymen of musculoskeletal medicine: posture, scar tissue, spasms, spinal alignment and such.

PainSci Member Login » Submit your email to unlock member content. If you can’t remember/access your registration email, please contact me. ~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher