Severe pain radiating down upper arm to pointer finger and thumb

by Jane

Severe pain radiating down upper arm to lower arm with some tingling in pointer finger and thumb

I'm 54 have a scoliosis. I also have a vertebrae between my shoulder blades that is painful to touch. For the past few weeks I've been experiencing severe pain and burning in my shoulder running down the front of my upper arm, into my lower arm and the tingling is in the lower arm and thumb and pointer finger. I'm fine if I am sitting (slumping) in my recliner, but if I get up and do anything with that arm, like reach for something, its excruciating.

It does seem to get worse when I'm looking up or at what I'm reaching for. If I keep my head down close to my chest it is not as bad.

I've been going to a new chiropractor, but so far it hasn't helped. It is so painful to lay on my stomach on his adjustment table, as well as on my back. I haven't been able to lay on my back for more than an hour or so for years because it becomes very painful, but this pain is in my arm.

I'm kind of feeling at the end of my rope. I can't have an MRI because of staples from a surgery in 1978. I do think this is coming from my neck as I've had a mild form of it before, but it went away with adjustments. It also helps temporarily if I do neck traction at home. It's never been this bad, or lasted this long. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Hello Jane,
Does raising your arm, putting in on your head, sleeping with your hand under your head relieve the pain? Shoulder Abduction Relief sign ...

I'm afraid you have the classic symptoms of pinched C6 nerve root, and it's difficult no matter treatment you go for.

The signs are pain with looking up, and stretching out your arm.

I take it some X-rays have been taken. What do they show? Could you type in the report? Better still if you have the computer skills attach copies of the X-rays. Take photos with your camera, and then simply attach the file. Send to Contact if necessary.

A few suggestions:
1. Don't carry anything heavy with arm. Shopping, pots...

2. Try to avoid looking up, and especially turning right and looking up.

3. Lying face down on chiropractic table: put the naughty hand on the head rest, rather than hanging down.

4. Lying face up on chiropractic table: cushion under your head, perhaps two.

5. Daily home traction, I find the lying down kind usually the best. With a pillow under your head. Classically up to 7kg, depending on a number of factors, but you may be able to slowly increase on that. Talk to your chiro.

6. This I can't tell you as proven fact, but I find less treatment is better rather than more. Intensive, frequent manipulation may increase the pain. Occasional chiropractic adjustments, probably with your head turned to the left is often the best, but not always.

The big question is whether you have a slipped disc, or uncovertebral joint Luschka degeneration.

Be patient, give your chiro a good chance, at least another month. You may need to see a neurosurgeon.

I wish I could you miracle words of advice. I can't. It's a difficult condition at the best of times, made more difficult in your case by the scoliosis.

Send me X-rays, answer the questions and keep us abreast of your progress. Good luck and God bless.

Dr B

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