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Arthritis and Rheumatism

What Kind of Doctor Should be Consulted for Increasing Pain and Stiffness?

01/03/2008

Question:

I have been a healthy male, 68 years of age, until late August, when I developed a stiffness in my right hand and tingling in my fingers. Since that time it has gotten progressively worse with stifness and numbness in both hands. I am no longer able to fall asleep without wakening up to extreme numbness in my fingers. I am seeing my family physician. An EGT showed a C6 radiculopathy, and a ulnar neuropathy on the right side and a bilateral carpal tunnel blockage. He believes that I have degenerative arthiritis and is focusing on the need for carpal tunnel surgery. I am concerned that there may be a more systemic problem. My question is what kind of doctor should I see to determine if there is a more fundmental or underlying cause of my rapidly growing problems?

Answer:

C6 radiculopathy and ulnar neuropathy along with carpal tunnel syndrome appear to be reasonable causes of your symptoms. The C6 radiculopathy is probably due to degenerative arthritis or disc disease of your cervical spine. The carpal tunnel syndrome is most likely primarily responsible for your symptoms given it's both sides while the other findings are only on the right side. A neurologist may be helpful in clarifying these neurological symptoms i.e. tingling/numbness.

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Response by:

Johnny  Su, MD Johnny Su, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University