Science-- there's something for everyone

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beware of clean sheets


Ever find yourself struggling to pull an overly tight sheet onto a mattress? If so, you could be setting yourself up for a type of nerve damage. Francis Walker, Mary Lyles and Zhongyu Li of Wake Forest University School of Medicine document a case of a 73 year-old woman developing this condition after spending over an hour wrestling with her sheets.

You may be familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, in which repetitive motions, such as the wrist flexing required for typing, cause pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. People with this syndrome may have pain or numbness in their hands or arms. However, overuse of the wrist can also result in blood clots that block those critical nerves. These clots impair the functioning of the hand and may need to be surgically repaired. Yanking on so-called fitted sheets is apparently a possible, though rather unusual cause of this problem. The woman in the case study developed clots in her wrist that prevented her from performing normal actions with her hand. Luckily, surgery and a year of physical therapy reversed the problem.

I knew there was a good reason not to change my sheets that often. Now to convince my family that we should all be using sleeping bags.


Walker, F., Lyles, M., & Li, Z. (2012). Sheet Fitting Palsy Journal of Clinical Neuromuscular Disease, 14 (1), 48-50 DOI: 10.1097/CND.0b013e31826506ff