24 February 2010

Mystery Sprain

I somehow managed to sprain, or maybe just strain, something in my thumb. It's not the joint that connects the thumb to the hand. I think it may be the muscles/tendons connecting the two other joints. I'm not really sure how I managed to injure it, but I have a few guesses.

It started on Saturday. My shoulder had been twinging, and at roughly the same time, I felt some tingling in the tip of the left thumb. At the time, I figured something in my shoulder was just pinching a nerve. Then Sunday evening, the area between the two outer joints was very sore and tender. By Monday morning, it was noticeable swollen. I made a makeshift splint out of a chopstick (broken down closer to lenght) and the tape from my desk. This was a trifle odd-looking, but it kept the sore part from moving and reminded me not to use that thumb. After I got done teaching, I stopped at the dollar store. No real thumb splints there, but there was some self-sticking wrap (the kind often used when people donate blood) and a package of tongue depressors. From that, I was able to construct a splint that looked a bit more professional, and kept the thumb immobilized for most of the day, and most of Tuesday.

It's quite a bit better this morning, though I'll probably immobilize it before heading to work, and I think I've figured out part of the cause. I'm still missing a piece, though. On Saturday afternoon, I went to Westwood Discount (they get damaged/clearance/overstock goods, mainly, plus some stuff like you'd find at a dollar store) and didn't bother to get a basket. I was holding my items awkwardly, and my shoulder was complaining from it. I suspect I was using the left thumb to put pressure on something to keep it from falling and either overworked or overstretched something along the back of the thumb. As it wasn't swollen the next morning, it wasn't actually injured yet. That morning, I printed out some D&D tiles and spent some time cutting them out with an Exacto knife and a straight edge (tip: get a straight edge with cork backing; they don't slide nearly as much), and probably used that thumb to keep the ruler from sliding. As the pain didn't start until evening, either there was some final thing that sent it from "overused" to "sprained" or it was just very slow coming on. My bet is on the former, but I have no idea what the final trigger might have been.

Ah well. It wasn't a major sprain, since one of the described symptoms is "unable to pinch thumb and forefinger together." I could pinch, it was just painful to do so for very long.

I've discovered a list of things that are much easier to do with a functioning left thumb, now. "Putting contacts in" is at the top of the list. "Putting ice trays in the freezer" is next; I'm much less proficient at that with my right hand and spill a lot more water. "Adjusting the left strap of a backpack." "Wearing gloves." "Buttoning trousers." I'm sure there'd be even more if it were my right hand, however.

And I keep meaning to post some of my self-made dungeon tiles here... I've borrowed freely from stuff I've found, so I might as well add to the available resources with the ones I've made.


John said...

If you are interested, I have a workaround for the broken post-hiding thing.


John said...

I'm not sure why it works, but it does.

John said...

Nevermind, it seems to be working again.