So I have been working hard on my vestibular therapy. And as a consequence, I have also needed physiotherapy because I do not have the best joint stability due to joint hypermobility syndrome. I have made great progress when it comes to my balance in the VRT (Vestibular therapy) and in motion tolerance (moving my head rapidly and moving my body rapidly without causing the world to spin). But not in other vestibular symptoms which might be due to vestibular migraine disease so I have increased migraine medication. So that is that situation.

However, during this time a spontaneous and rapid arm issue occurred.

Text: Abrupt Arm muscular weakness

Image: Woman arm folding and man holding her elbow for physio adjustment

Muscular arm ‘event’

So what initially happened was strange in-itself:

  1. My right arm had some insane parethesia (tingling)
  2. The hand which has nerve damage already had more intense parethesia with numbness and some mobility issues. The fingers were all slow and with little dexterity. Now, two of my fingers actually have mobility issues due to the nerve damage but the others do not.
  3. The entire arm was weak and heavy.

Obviously, this sort of sounds stroke/TIA like but I did do a stroke test in the mirror and it was fine. And I could hold the arm up fine. The arm didn’t want to rotate right. It felt worse lifting above the shoulder for sure. My elbow seemed restricted, given I am very double-jointed there. And the entire shoulder/shoulder blade area felt stiff/heavy/weird.

So if it wasn’t a TIA at that time I speculated it was a migraine issue. That is not the side of the body I get my auras and I do not often even get tactile auras anymore anyway (but always possible). And one can get migraine attacks on the other side of the body spontaneously, just happens.

The next day

Well, the next day eliminated that whole migraine aura idea because while the paresthesia was gone entirely, as was the extreme dexterity issues in my fingers, I was left with a very weird arm. It lacked all muscle endurance. The elbow, upper arm, rotator cuff, shoulder, and shoulder blade all had muscles that felt heavy, weak and limited my motion. But not painful in the least (beyond the normal fibromyalgia tender spots, of course).

I eliminated some possibilities

  • Physiotherapist could not find any indication at all of a pinched nerve. My doctor also said it wasn’t a pinched nerve but had no time to assess it due to how busy things are at the moment.
  • My neurologist reviewed my recent symptoms and said they do not sound like MS at all. Which is good news. He’s doing an MRI just in case- due diligence, I suppose. I am not losing actual strength in my limbs according to the sorts of tests they do. But functionally I am in my arm so maybe lacking endurance strength- but that doesn’t count.
  • He said it was not a TIA. I also didn’t think so but it’s best to be sure. Like I would know.

My neurologist did send me for a nerve test. That is because I have no clue what the actual hell is wrong with my arm so might as well test the nerve damage issue. Maybe that progressed? But I do not think that is the issue.

So I am clueless but actively trying to ‘fix’ it

I have no idea what happened to it but I am very determined to see what I can do and what I can’t. And when I can’t do something I am determined to find out specifically why I can’t. To that end, I am doing every sort of stretch exercise and physio exercise I have learned, past and present, for my neck, arms, shoulders and upper back.

My random exercise tools are depicted here. Some small exercise bands. And a regular can of soup I use as a weight.
My random exercise tools

Obviously, with fibromyalgia, I have to be careful with exercise. Push too hard and it really, really pushes back. But if I am careful with just a little bit I can poke around and test to see what is actually going on with my arm. I don’t have any weights and really I can’t even handle much weight so a can of soup works as a ‘weight’. For resistance, I have resistance bands- small ones and larger ones- I use the lowest level of both.

Things I can tell so far:

  • When I lift my shoulders in a high shrug and roll them back (which is a great stretch to release tension, by the way) I feel to muscles grind on the bone and the muscles remain tense. In fact, both sides that whole area is taunt. When I stand up, I can feel that area push me down, because it isn’t loosening up at all. But this area is not the area I’m having a problem with, so perhaps it tensed up in response for whatever happened to the arm. So I keep trying to ‘release’ it, but so far no luck.
  • I can’t fully rotate my right elbow. By that I mean, I am very double-jointed there and normally can rotate it quite a bit and crack it. I can’t and it feels weird. If I do a wall push-up- stand a foot or so away from the wall, hands on the wall and do a push up- I can feel/hear that joint ‘pop’ or the ligaments snapping over the joint.
  • The areas that ‘feel’ off- that is heavy, slow- are the rotator cuff, my upper arm, and the entire shoulder blade area. Every way I move my arm I can ‘feel’ those muscles. They don’t hurt at all but they feel very weird. Anything I do with my arm tires it out very fast. Even if I just hold it out straight, that in itself exhausts it fast. This makes it difficult to do things.
  • My hand is having nerve damage issues but I am not sure if that is because the whole arm is just weaker. So maybe that aggravated the existing nerve damage. So I am finding it hard to do things like use a can opener. Or use a whisk. Or stir batter.
  • I have had a few incidents of extreme parethesia since that first time- and again, no idea why. I do have bad parethesia in my legs which I assume is a fibromyalgia thing. This arm stuff, I am not sure since it comes with all this weakness and heavy thickness.

I think I don’t Have something but rather Did something but I really am clueless. My theory is that it is related to my neck because back in the day I had some issues with my neck from migraines that caused referred pain to my shoulder… every time I had a migraine I couldn’t rotate my shoulder. And since I have been doing these vestibular exercises which demand a lot of very rapid head movements, and my neck is always tense and in pain due to migraines, I could have easily ‘done’ something to have caused some sort of issue all the way down my arm. Something non-painful though, which I admit, is puzzling.

But I have learned over the course of a few decades all the stretches and physio exercises to deal with any potential issue I may have caused. So that is what I’m going to try. Mostly because I can’t see anyone else doing anything at the moment so I might as well really try my damndest to fix this issue. Or at the very least I will know a lot of details on what is going on if my doctor has the time to look into it sometime.

Of course, I do have the MRI and nerve test to clear potential issues there. better safe than sorry, of course.

Paresthesia and Fibromyalgia
Peripheral Neuropathy Awareness week
Chronic pain: My broken pain alarm system

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2 thoughts on “Weird symptoms: Abrupt arm muscular weakness

  1. Wishing you good luck as you find an answer. I’ve been battling unresolved nerve damage in my spine and vagus nerve as a result of an allergic reaction for years, of which no doctor could help. It actually effects my arms and makes my fingers twitch. Regardless of what’s the root, you may want to research your vagus nerve and ways to strengthen it. Might help? Hope you start healing soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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