Right arm tingling and numbness radiating down to the thumb

by Carrie
(Greenville Ohio USA)

This is for a friend who has been suffering for about 4 months now and won't seek treatment. I thought if I was armed with some good info I can convince him to change his mind.

About 4 or 5 months ago an ache and numbness developed in his right elbow extending down thru the thumb. Tingling also occurred and seemed especially painful at night.

Since then the symptoms have traveled up his arm, above the elbow to the shoulder area. Laying on his back at night only increases the pain, and lying on his left side decreases it a little due to the right arm and shoulder being able to hang and moving forward a bit. But the dull ache and numbness and tingling still prevent any deep sleep...and actually some nights no sleep at all.

At about the same time the arm pain started, a simultaneous sinus/chest congestion issue was occurring. Coughing, sinus pressure and respiratory issues were preventing sleep as well.

My friend is a carpenter by trade and uses tools of the trade. He also is an active softball player and a decent athlete. He told me he fell directly on his shoulder this summer while playing ball, but thought nothing of it.

Any thoughts or ideas or advice you could give me to possibly point my friend in the right direction for treatment would be greatly, greatly appreciated!! Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this.

Hello Carrie, oh for more friends like you in the world. Nevertheless, you can lead a horse to water... your friend must himself choose to drink. You'll have to be wise, rather than trying to force the issue.

You make no mention of neck pain. So the first question is whether movements of his neck and particularly looking up and turning to the right provoke any neck pain, and tingling in the arm.

Secondly would you do the "upper limb tension test" on him; it's something you can do yourselves, and report to me what you find. Use the search this site function at Chiropractic Help.

Thirdly, you could take a pin and prick his arms and hands, comparing sides. Anything happening to the thumb usually affects the index finger too. Is there a difference?

And lastly, this condition can cause muscle weakness, usually the triceps muscle. Lying on his back, with a brick in his hand which he lifts to the ceiling, straightening the elbow, does the right arm tire more quickly? He could do press ups as well. Pinch the triceps muscles between your fingers; is there any obvious wasting?

You're right to be concerned. Nerve pain that continues for any length of time will cause these "hard" neurological signs eventually.

In short, a thorough examination, probably including x-rays of his neck are needed.

Be wise! Don't use the bulldozer.

I hope this contributes. Let me know how he gets on.

Dr B

» Right arm tingling and numbness radiating down to the thumb.

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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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