Pain, numbness, tingling in hands and arms

by Mike
(Phoenix, AZ)

Uncovertebral = joint of Luschka

Uncovertebral = joint of Luschka


»Pain, numbness, tingling in hands and arms

Hi, I am currently experiencing moderate to severe pain, numbness, and tingling in my hands and arms, primarily in those areas innervated by the ulnar nerve. My pinkie and ring fingers are numb off and on throughout the day, mostly when I use the computer (which I do all day 5 days a week at my job).

I also have numbness that comes and goes along the backs of my arms (triceps area), and aching sensations in my shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands. Driving also aggravates the pain.

The treatments that give me the most relief are heavy sedatives or hypnotics(such as Ambien), prescription muscle relaxants, and cervical traction. Lying down on my back on a hard surface also usually gives me some temporary respite from the pain.

Until recently, I have been self-manipulating my neck for approximately 10 years. I have Tourette Syndrome, and one of my tics involved violently cracking my neck. I don't remember how I initially picked up this tic, and I've known for a long time that it was risky, but due to the nature of Tourette Syndrome it has been extremely difficult to stop performing these motions.

I have finally overcome this habit through therapy and medication, but the pain persists. I recently had an MRI, which shows degenerative uncovertebral joint disease. Here is the MRI report:

FINDINGS: Cervical spinal cord is intact with no abnormal signal identified.

C2-3: Mild left neural foraminal encroachment due to uncovertebral joint degenerative disease. Minimal right encroachment as well.

C3-4: Moderate bilateral neural foraminal encroachment due to degenerative uncovertebral joint disease.

C4-5: Bilateral degenerative uncovertebral joint disease causing mild right greater than left neural foraminal encroachment. Broad-based disc bulge causes
mild canal narrowing.

C5-6: Degenerative uncovertebral joint disease and anterior osteophytic lipping. Mild left neural foraminal encroachment. Mild canal narrowing.

C6-7: Mild canal narrowing due to posterior osteophyte/disc complex and degenerative uncovertebral joint disease.

C7-T1: No significant canal or neural foraminal narrowing.

I have recently started seeing a chiropractic who is manipulating me 3x a week, with a massage beforehand. I am trying to determine what my chances are for recovery without surgery. I have only been seeing the chiropractic for a week so far, and have felt little or no relief so far. He is recommending aggressive cervical traction and pain management.

I'd appreciate your input, since your website contains more information pertinent to my specific situation than any other I've found so far. My chiropractor doesn't seem confident about whether my condition will improve under his care.

Hello Mike,
When chiropractic manipulation is done, the spine is distracted drawing the uncovertebral and facet joints apart; self manipulation means the hyaline cartilage lining these joints is graunched.

Also we recommend no more than perhaps 25 manipulations in a year, but you probably did that in a week.

It's worth giving your chiropractor a solid chance; don't expect miracles because usually this is a slow improvement. If you go on clicking your own neck, he definitely won't succeed. Nor will the surgeon.

You said traction helped, and I would go on with that. Have you got a home traction unit? I would recommend, they aren't expensive.

Good luck, let me know in a month or two how you are getting on. The upper limb tension test is a good objective measure of your progress.

Dr B


»Pain, numbness, tingling in hands and arms

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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