After three-plus years of trouble with repetitive stress injuries, and trying everything short of surgery, I may have actually figured out my problem. As I mentioned a couple months ago (chronic muscle and joint pain caused by vitamin deficiencies?), I went to a doctor for digestion issues, and she had me tested for food hidden allergies (something no other doctor had thought to do previously). I had positive responses for.. a lot. Here are the biggest offenders (which are in things most of us eat on a daily basis):
- gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley)
Based on these results and my symptoms, we (doctor and I) think it's likely that I have Celiac Disease (though I'd have to have a biopsy of the small intestine done to know for sure), which means eating gluten harms these little things in the small intestine called villi--they're what help you absorb nutrients from the food you eat. So, even though I have a good diet, my body hasn't been getting all the vitamins/minerals it needs for years. This leads to all sorts of problems (a lot of things like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, bone and joint paint, and chronic fatigue syndrome may actually be caused by Celiac Disease).
Because the symptoms can be different in different people and many aren't even obviously related to digestion, this is something that gets misdiagnosed a lot. The stats I've read estimate that as many as 1 in 133 people in the U.S. have Celiac Disease and many of them just don't know it. (Apparently it's especially common in those of Northern European descent.)
So, long story short, I'm now avoiding gluten (and my other allergens), which is inconvenient, but at least it's all you need to do to protect yourself and get better. From what I've read, it takes 3-6 months for the gut to heal. I'm already sleeping much better (digestion issues kept me up before), and I'm hoping this will turn out to finally fix my hands too.