Dear Ask The Doctor: My husband is experiencing left hand weakness for about a week now. He is currently out of town for his job, so it's difficult to get him to go to the doctor. Tonight he said he had difficulty opening a metal potato chip clip. He has no other symptoms. He was doing some physical labor last week at work and we assumed he must have strained some muscles, but since it is not improving, I am very concerned. My questions are: 1. since this has gone on nearly continuously for over a week, would this exclude the possibility of it being TIA related? There has been no numbness, pain, or any other symptoms. 2. He currently has an infection in a tooth but it's in the right lower jaw, not the left. Could this be linked to the hand weakness in any way? Thank you for your time and response.
Dear Patient: If your husband does not have any previous history of TIA, stroke, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, blood disease, cardiac disease, or high blood pressure, it is not likely that this may be a TIA episode. In the view that he was doing physical labor as you stated, this may be related to an overuse or repetitive movements of the hands, it would be important to rule out a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Lack of aerobic exercise (along with increased Body Mass Index) is a risk factor for the development of CTS and should be addressed. Overuse of legal drugs (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol) can contribute to CTS and should therefore be reduced. And It is not likely that the tooth infection may be linked to the hand weakness.