Hank Blalock’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Texas Rangers infielder Hank Blalock has been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome after experiencing numbness in his right hand early in the week. Rangers trainer Jamie Reed said it isn’t unusual for a player to suffer from carpal tunnel. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory that should alleviate the condition and give Blalock as chance to play again by Sunday. “I was able to play with it the last few days in Arizona and I wasn’t going to say anything,” Blalock said. “But it’s an issue. The last four nights I woke up with numbness in my right wrist and pain in my right hand.

One year ago, Blalock underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, and missed most the season. He said it is medically impossible to have a recurrence of that condition after the operation he had to correct it.

The Disabled List Informer (a fantasy baseball blog written by a Physical Therapist) offers this analysis:

Hank Blalock has been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in his right wrist. This is a peculiar diagnosis, in my opinion – especially after having surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) in the same arm in the recent past, as well as being involved in a car accident in which he sustained whiplash to the Cervical spine.

Is it possible that he does, in fact, have CTS? Sure it is. Given his history, he might also be suffering from some proximal nerve compression issues (either at the neck or in the Brachial Plexus) stemming from the aforementioned injury and surgery.

Double Crush Syndrome occurs when a more proximal nerve compression or irritation lessens the threshold for pain and irritation of the distal aspects of the nerve (in this case, wrist at the Carpal Tunnel).

CTS is commonly misdiagnosed. In a large percentage of cases of people with CTS, a more proximal Cervical pathology is also present (some sources say over 70%). What we need to know is the location of his symptoms, i.e. is the pain/numbness in certain fingers or one side of the hand or the other. CTS affects mainly the palmar aspect of the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and sometimes the medial half of the ring finger (and dorsal tips of fingers 1-4). If the symptoms are not in these areas, then it is not CTS.

In any event, regardless of diagnosis, a nerve problem is not something that goes away in a couple of days, as they are suggesting.

Blalock, for his part, just sounds frustrated: “I feel like I lead the league in syndromes,” he said.

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.

3 Comments:

  1. I read a very similar blog to this one: http://hankblalock.wordpress.com/

    saying that maybe the Rangers should stop just giving him injections and actually get him proper treatment.

  2. There are non surgical treatments for thoracic outlet syndrome that work very well. Here is a presentation I did on that very subject at the 12th Annual World Congress on Anti-aging Medicine, Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada, December 4, 2004

    Presentation on Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
    by Dr James Stoxen DC

    http://www.teamdoctors.org/english/Dr_James_Stoxen_Team_Doctors_Thoracic_Outlet_Syndrome_World_Congress_Anti_Aging.htm

  3. Very interesting, and informative articles. I only looked over the first two sections of Dr. James Stoxen’s Presentation of Thoratic Syndrome. Could I be understanding this correctly? Sometimes CTS is actually a incorrect diagnosis, and the culprit may be Thoratic Outlet syndrome (TOS)? Is there more of a chance of CTS really being TOS if the pain radiates from the hands into the rotator cuf region? Or am I totally off base here?

    Thanks for your time, again I am far from a physician. I just like reading, and learning new material.

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