WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Nov. 8, 2012 What do a tight, fitted bed sheet and a blood clot in the wrist have in common? Both are associated with a condition called sheet fitting palsy. True to its name, the palsy is reported in those who spend a long period of time repeatedly trying to pull a fitted bed sheet over the corner of a mattress. But it has also been reported in basketball players and in those who do push-ups as exercise.
The injury is caused by the continuous flexing movement of the wrist and results in a tiny stroke in the artery to the hand. The resulting clot cuts off blood flow to the median nerve and produces symptoms that include numbness or weakness.
A case study was described recently by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center neurologist Francis O. Walker, M.D., and colleagues, and published in the September edition of the journal, Clinical Neuromuscular Disease.
The case involved a fit and active 73-year-old woman, who was a bit miffed last fall when she had to depend on her granddaughter to help her with some housework. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't slip the last corner of a fitted sheet over a mattress. Sometimes she noticed a 'pins and needles' feeling in her hand, but didn't think anything of it. After shaking her hand for a while, the numbness would go away.
A few weeks later, facing the fitted sheet task without her granddaughter to help her, the woman tried for some time to move the sheet over the mattress without success. When she moved her hand from the sheet her thumb dropped down, limp. That's when she called her doctor, Mary F. Lyles, M.D.
On examination, Lyles saw that her patient had lost most of the ability to perform simple tasks such as tying a shoelace or buttoning a sleeve with her right hand. Suspecting acute carpel tunnel syndrome, Lyles called on neurologist Walker to perform nerve conduction studies and image the hand using ultrasound. Few physicians have s
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Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center