My adventure with CuTS (part 1)
For the past two and a half years, I've been noticing very interesting sensations in my right pinky, much like when you hit your funny bone. Sometimes it would be numb, sometimes tingly, and rarely, but most disturbingly, I would feel small lines of shooting pain in my right arm. Needless to say this put a bit of a "damper" on life as a pianist.
After visiting my local doctor and getting an inconclusive nerve conduction test, I decided to look farther afield and see if I could find a nerve specialist who had experience dealing with performers. Fortunately, Texas has one of the best supply of specialists anywhere, and I found a surgeon in Houston who quickly diagnosed me with Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (CuTS) and prescribed a series of physical therapy exercises in the hopes of containing the issue.
CuTS, essentially, is a compressed nerve in your elbow, resulting in the aforementioned "funny-bone" sensations. If left untreated, it can eventually result in constant pain and loss of strength and function in the fingers.
The physical therapy worked for a while, but this semester my CuTS returned with a vengeance. After another consultation with our specialist, we've decided to undergo "cubital tunnel release" surgery, which will relieve the pressure on the nerve and hopefully fix the problem before it progresses too far. This type of surgery is an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia, and assuming that everything goes according to plan, I'll be back in commission in two or three weeks.
From here, I'll post periodic updates for those of you interested in the process. It's a bit off the track from my normal topics, but I hope a few of you will find it interesting. As a sports fan as well as a musician, I find it very interesting that we think nothing at all of athletes coming back from multiple (major!) surgeries, but addressing performance-related injury is still a very uncomfortable topic in the music world. Hopefully this experience will help to build awareness and confidence among other musicians with similar injuries.
Anyway, here we go! I'm writing this on the morning of my surgery, so as soon as I'm lucid enough to write down the next part of the story I'll be back with part 2.