RSI and general anaesthetic

Two weeks ago I had a general anesthetic (to have my wisdom teeth removed – I spare you the details of what else they did to my mouth) which lasted for about an hour. When I came round the whole of my left arm was tingling, fortunately this stopped after a couple of minutes. However I was left with my left hand feeling a bit ‘odd’. Eventually the ‘odd’ feeling faded away, except when I went to bed, lying down seemed to start it up again, or maybe it was just the lack of other nerve input that made me aware of it. After four days it got a bit worse so I went to see my GP, then an osteopath.

My GP explained that when you have a general anesthetic they feed a tube through your nose then down into your lungs to supply the anesthetic gas/oxygen mixture. When they feed the tube in, they tip your head right back to line up the airways. As you are already unconscious and so completely limp you cannot ‘protect’ your neck in the normal way. As a result I suffered a slight injury to one of the joints in my neck. The osteopath I went to see ‘crunched’ my neck and managed to get rid of the ‘odd’ feeling immediately. He said there was a problem with both sides of the joint in my neck, as I had RSI mainly in the left side it was probably responsible for me getting the problem in just the left arm, rather than in both arms. Hopefully the problem is now fixed.

Apart from the above problem the muscles in my shoulders felt a lot more relaxed than usual for a couple of days after the anesthetic. The physio I know who treats a lot of RSI sufferers says that as most people with RSI have a neck problem, to some extent, they are prone to having problems like this. So the moral of this tale is: if you have RSI you should warn the anesthetist that you have a potential neck problem. You should also warn the surgeon that leaning on your arms is not a good idea, either.


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