Running & Swelling of Hands

I find that the slight swinging of my hands when running seems to pump them up with blood; until they get so swollen they look like fat blotchy sausages, which I can’t bend. I must have had RSI coming on for years, because I used to suffer with this when I was doing half and full marathons – the only time I ever heard of anyone else having it though was when another woman runner wrote to a running magazine describing exactly the same thing and asking had anyone else had it? I wish I had known then that it was a circulation problem caused by my thoracic outlet syndrome probably, and had written to ask her if she was a keyboard operator.

Comment 1: Interesting. I know what you mean about the pumping up sensation. I only get a slight increase in “unpleasant awareness” (can’t really call it pain) in my wrists – which is where a lot of my RSI pain is – during the first couple or so miles, after which time everything settles down (usual endorphins taking over?). After a run I generally feel fine for hours/days – with the shoulder and arms being much freer, looser and generally less painful than before. Which is nice.

Comment 2: Sounds horrible! I have never been a runner and couldn’t now anyway (foot & knee probs). However, it only takes an afternoon out with daughter shopping to set my arms off or even as a car passenger on a long trip! I basically find I’m not so bad if I support them. Hence shoulder bag round neck at right height to support arm/s and small pillows in car to support arms and lessen the vibration! My fingers tend to swell a bit, but nothing to the extent of yours, but then: different problems.

Comment 3: This one stroke a chord with me as for a long time I have been trying to explain to my doctor that similar effect on my hands and he could not understand why it should do so. (I quickly learned by his attitudes that he had no time for my “illness and that perhaps I should go away for a 2-week holiday to feel better”. I started suffering with RSI in my left hand and arm in Dec’98 after 2 months of extensive typing to a deadline. A month later my Rheumatologist thought he would try a cortisone injection (painless in itself) in my left wrist, but with disastrous effect resulting quickly and diagnosed as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD. (In fact I checked much later on internet from medical records that people do get RSD from that procedure and my 2 doctor relatives in France confirmed it to me from the tests I had done there. I also have been diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

My RSD -seems- to have gone since October’99 but I am left with RSI in upper limbs, chest, shoulders and neck until the present time. To this day I still cannot do simple exercises and simple stretches flare up my pain as well as swelling in my hands, especially between both indexes and middle fingers. The veins on the back of my hands come up to the surface and my hands become a colour similar to lead or “blue”. It would feel as if I caught my hands in a door frame. Has anyone had these symptoms? Because when I say so to the doctor he looks at me as if this never exists. (I think this is very sad, don’t you?) I cannot walk for more that 20 minutes before my hands swell again and get painful and my fingers become tight and stiff and at times I feel as if my left arm is going to fall off. Sorry for the length of reading but perhaps someone can reassure me I’m not seeing things!

Comment 4: My hands would become swollen whenever I exercised with weights. The same feeling of not being able to bend the fingers or make a fist. I told my doctor that my hands felt so swollen that when I looked down at them I should see hands the size of baseball gloves. This he seemed to be able to relate to TK.


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