Medical scientists have linked a type of blood clot in the wrist to housework — specifically repeatedly trying to pull a fitted bed sheet over the corner of a mattress — and other activities involving repetitive hand motions.
The condition, a severe form of carpal tunnel syndrome dubbed “sheet-fitting palsy,” is caused by the continuous flexing movement of the wrist and results in a tiny clot in the artery that cuts off blood flow to the hand and produces numbness or weakness.
In a report on the condition, published in the journal Clinical Neuromuscular Disease, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center neurologist Dr. Francis O. Walker and colleagues said it also strikes basketball players and people who do push-ups as exercise.
Walker’s report focused on the case of a fit and active 73-year-old woman, who consulted her doctor after suddenly finding she couldn't slip the last corner of a fitted sheet over a mattress. Sometimes she noticed a “pins and needles” feeling and numbness in her hand.
The woman’s doctor, Dr. Mary F. Lyles, said an examination revealed the woman had lost 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 Walker to perform nerve studies and image the hand using ultrasound.
He said the tests showed an "artery that had blood flow in it in the forearm, but not at the wrist where it was next to a swollen, injured, median nerve." The woman underwent surgery to relieve some of the pressure on the nerve, and gradually she recovered the full use of her hand, Walker said.