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Backpacking nerve injury

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Backpacking nerve injury

Postby J ney » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:15 pm

Just coming off a few days in Ansel Adams wilderness (TR coming) and I have a pretty disconcerting injury that I wanted to share.

I was climbing Ritter (Clyde Variation) on Saturday with a heavier than normal pack (had my 4x5 camera gear with me so probably around 30#)... The climb went fine though longer than anticipated at 12 hours from start to finish and I had no acute falls or twinges. Came back in the evening and found my right arm to be severely tired and weak (thought it was just from some harsh braking on the glissade down). Went to bed and woke up to continued weakness and that was when I noted the injury:

Signs/Symptoms: numbness on the radial forearm from the thumb to elbow and weakness in the bicep (i could not get any tone in my bicep muscle). I had full range of motion and no pain... Just numbness in the forearm and weakness in bicep.

I still had to backpack out from lake ediza with my full 45# which I was able to do with little issue though I'm sure it did not help the situation.

I woke up this morning with only a minor improvement (I could get some tone in my bicep but that went away). I have an appt with my doctor tomorrow morning and hopefully will have some imaging done. Based on my limited research (and chatting with some backpacking friends) it seems like the worst case scenario would be an impingement of the musculocutaneous nerve coming from the bracial plexus (lower cervical spine) which has been termed "pack palsy" or "rucksack palsy". We'll see... Hopefully a cortisone shot and a little rest will help it out and I'll be more judicious of my loads next time (maybe there's a reason why you don't see many LF cameras on summits :))

Has anyone experienced something similar? Interested in hearing thoughts.



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Backpacking nerve injury

Postby J ney » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:32 pm

Additionally - for those interested - my pack is an osprey variant 52 that I have used for several trips (though never this heavy on a peak ascent). I'm usually very aware of adjusting my straps but I I think the suspension of this pack doesn't do too well at high weights.

And I'm an otherwise healthy 30-something person.
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Re: Backpacking nerve injury

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:39 pm

J ney,

Good luck on the results, and hope that they turn out negative for any type of
nerve impingement!
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Re: Backpacking nerve injury

Postby Vaca Russ » Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:20 am

J ney wrote:Has anyone experienced something similar? Interested in hearing thoughts.
J Ney,

The exact same thing (except my left arm) happened to me on our recent Shasta climb. I noticed the numbness right after I started the very long glissade down the slope. I did carry a very big pack the two days before, but I often carry a very heavy pack ( I train every day with up to 40 pounds).

I think is was caused by a straining of the muscles in left arm while braking with my ice ax down the steep slope. :nod: Half way down the mountain I switched arms and tried to brake more with my feet (the slope was also less severe). This happened on Sunday 6/8 and my arm has not yet fully recovered.

I didn't seek medical attention because I have Kaiser and my Dr. would just tell me to "rest my arm". :D

I hope your arm gets better young man! Good Luck!!

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Backpacking nerve injury

Postby J ney » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:23 am

Thanks Mav and Russ!! Just wrapped up with the MD and I have electromyography / nerve conduction study tomorrow. Also prescribed 500mg of naprosyn. It seems to be getting mildly better but still a ways to go.
Stay tuned :)
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