Ask the Doctors: Bondage and Tingling Hands

Dear Good Vibes:

I’m new to bondage. After a particularly long and intense session this last Saturday, my hands were tingly and numb. I moved them around and they felt better, so I didn’t think anything of it, and didn’t tell my “top”, who had shown me such a fantastic time, that there was any problem.

It’s been 72 hours now, and the outside of my left thumb is still mostly numb, as is a patch on my right hand. I posted to a forum on kink, and people said that that was a bad sign, could be permanent, and that I needed to see a doctor right away.

I have full dexterity, range of motion, and strength. Even after working out at the gym, the numbness continues. I’ve read about neuropathy online, but it doesn’t help much.

My guess is that the doc would explain what nerve damage is, give me a time-line for when, if not better, it will probably be permanent, recommend soaking it in cold water then hot water to jump-start circulation, and then send me on my way. If this is true, you could tell me these things and I could save the money.

So what do you think? Is this a cause for great concern, and is there anything simple that I can do?

Since this is a medical question, I checked in with Dr. Robert Lawrence, a long-time supporter and friend of GV. According to him, when extremities tingle, you’re risking nerve damage. So if that happens, you need to stop what you’re doing and reset the tension on the bondage. Tingling and numbness can also become cumulative, as in carpal tunnel syndrome.

The fact that both of your hands have numb areas is also a concern. When both sides have tingling or numbness, it can be a sign of an injury to the spine, which can show up in the extremities (at the other end of the nerve). If your head was bent forward or back for an extended time, that could be the cause of the problem. If that’s the case, get checked out by a doctor.

However, what you’re experiencing could certainly be caused by tight wrist or upper arm bondage affecting the radial nerve. Once the nerve is damaged, it could easily be further damaged by the same activity, so you’ll need to be careful. It’s probably a good idea to find other ways to have fun, at least until your hands are better. Healing time can vary a lot- nerves take a while to recover and some injuries never fully heal.

It’s hard for me to give you specific advice about how to proceed, and that’s not just because I have a PhD, not an MD. Without knowing more about the exact injury, it’s hard to say what you could do. I’d suggest getting evaluated by a doctor or a chiropractor so you can figure out what to do.

For future reference (and for other readers), unpadded restraints and handcuffs are notoriously likely to cause these sorts of problems, which is why GV doesn’t carry them. It’s also important for the top to check and see how circulation in hands and feet are doing. Folks who are interested in bondage can check out our bondage how-to books. Our workshop program often includes classes on bondage, too.


We’re dedicated to getting you the information you need about sex, pleasure and your health. If you have any questions, please email our staff experts, Dr. Carol Queen and Dr. Charlie Glickman, at education@goodvibes.com! For product-related questions, please email or call our customer service staff at customerservice@goodvibes.com.

 

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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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