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腕枕症候群の恐ろしさが分かる4つの事実

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恋人や妻に腕枕をして寝た翌朝、起きてみたら腕が痺れている…こういった症状を腕枕症候群と呼び、そのシチュエーションから通称“ハネムーン症候群”“サタデーナイト症候群”などとも呼ばれています。

しかし、そんな甘~い名称とは裏腹に、腕枕症候群は恐ろしい現象であるということをご存知でしょうか。対処を間違えば、腕の痺れと一生付き合っていかなかればならない可能性があるのです。また、「自分は独り者だから大丈夫!」と言う方でも油断は禁物。実は、腕枕症候群は誰にでも起き得るものなのです。

本記事では、腕枕症候群について詳しく解説するとともに、その恐ろしさが分かる4つの事実をご紹介します。パートナーがいる方もいない方も、ぜひ本記事をご一読なさってみてください。

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腕枕症候群とは

驚く

腕枕症候群とは、医学的には橈骨神経麻痺といいます。橈骨神経が一定の時間続けて圧迫を受けることで損傷し、身体の動きや感覚に麻痺が生じてしまうのです。

橈骨神経は腕の付け根から指先まで走っている重要な神経です。まっすぐというよりは、腕の骨に沿ってゆるやかに巻きついているような感じをイメージしてもらえると分かりやすいでしょう。

橈骨神経は以下のような身体の働きを司っています。

  • 肘関節を伸ばす動き
  • 肘関節を縮める動き
  • 手首・手指を伸ばす動き
  • 人差し指と親指間の水かき部分の感覚

腕枕症候群は、この部分に麻痺や感覚障害が生じることなのです。

腕枕症候群の症状

腕枕症候群が起こると、以下のような症状が現れます。

  • 手首に力が入らない:手首から先がだらんと垂れ下がってしまう
  • 指を伸ばせなくなり、ペンなどが上手く持てない:指を曲げることは可能
  • 手首から先が痺れる
  • 人差し指と親指間の水かき部分の感覚がなくなる

こういった症状が出ると「脳梗塞の前兆では?」と思われる方が多いようですが、脳梗塞のような半身の痺れが見られない点が腕枕症候群の特徴です。

橈骨神経が圧迫されやすい部分

腕全体に走っている橈骨神経ですが、腕枕症候群が起きやすいのは以下の部分の圧迫によるものです。

  • 脇の下
  • 上腕の外側

これらの部分は筋肉が薄く、外からの圧迫刺激が神経に伝わりやすい環境のために麻痺が起こります。腕枕では、上腕の外側が頭の重さによって圧迫されて橈骨神経が麻痺してしまうのです。この部分は鍛えにくい筋肉なので、力こぶが出るような男性でも過信は禁物ですよ。

腕枕症候群の恐ろしさ

「腕枕をして夜寝なければいいんでしょ?」「ちょっと痺れるだけでしょ?」とお思いの方、そうではありません。ここでは、腕枕症候群の意外な恐ろしさについてご説明します。

一人寝でも起こる

意外なことに、腕枕症候群は一人で寝ていても起こります。このような姿勢で寝てしまうことがある人は、習慣を改める必要があります。

  • 席に着いたまま、腕に頭を乗せて突っ伏して寝る:昼寝・仮眠など
  • 腕を組んだまま寝る:移動中など
  • 椅子の背もたれや電車のポールなどを脇の下に挟んで寝る

一人寝で腕枕症候群が起こる場合は、おもに仮眠や昼寝、または飲酒して思わず眠ってしまった…というようなケースが多いようです。

15分のうたた寝でも起こる

神経組織は、私たちが思っているよりも繊細なものです。たったの15分程度、職場のデスクで仮眠を取っただけでも橈骨神経が損傷してしまうことがあります。

頭の重さは、体重の約10%と言われています。5~7kgというと、軽めのボウリングの球くらいの重さです。普段頭の重さを感じることはそうありませんが、こうして見ると意外に重量がありますね。

ほんの少し寝るだけだから大丈夫、と油断していると、思わぬところで腕枕症候群を引き起こしてしまうことになります。

即効性の治療法がない

腕枕症候群に対する即効性の治療方法は、未だ確立されていません。橈骨神経が切れていない限りは、神経が自然に元通りに再生するのを待つだけです。神経の再生を手助けする一環としてビタミン剤の処方や温熱療法や鍼治療などが行われることもありますが、劇的な治療期間の短縮は見られません。

また、神経が再生するまでの期間に筋肉が衰えるのを防ぐためのリハビリを行ったり、手首から先が固まってしまわないように器具を装着する場合もあります。

治らない場合もある

「腕枕症候群になったけれど、数時間で痺れが治まった」という人は非常にラッキーです。実は腕枕症候群は、軽い場合でも完治にかかる時間は約1ヶ月、平均して1~3ヶ月ほどで治るケースが多いのです。

ケースバイケースですが、ひどい場合は完治するのに数ヶ月かかってしまうことも。橈骨神経の損傷程度によっては、麻痺が生涯残ることもあります。

また、特に利き手に症状が出てしまった場合、事態は深刻です。思うようにペンも握れない、箸も使えないまま数か月過ごすというのは、不便であると同時に精神的にも辛いことです。麻痺が一生残る、というのは何としても避けたい事態ですね。

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まとめ:症状が続く場合は病院へ

本記事では、腕枕症候群の概要と、その恐ろしさを物語る4つの事実をご紹介してきました。ここで、もう一度それらについておさらいしましょう。

  • 一人寝でも起こる
  • 15分のうたた寝でも起こる
  • 即効性の治療法がない
  • 治らない場合もある

腕枕症候群は、神経の損傷による症状であるため、重篤な場合は早めの治療が重要です。自己判断で損傷した神経を放置しておくと、本当は数か月で治まる症状が慢性的なものになってしまうこともあります。2~3日症状が続くようであれば、整形外科を受診するようにしてください。

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