Tingling hand (initially mainly thumb and forefinger)

by Giles
(Tipton, UK)

C6 dermatome

C6 dermatome

Tingling hand (initially mainly thumb and forefinger but now in all fingers)

I am an otherwise fit healthy 36 year old non-smoking male.

In October 2013 I moved house. My move involved a great deal of heavy lifting which I did a great deal of myself. In fact, as I had some friends helping me, I deliberately took up the heaviest boxes myself. Some of which my wife said she packed for 2 people to carry. I carried nearly all of these myself. During the end of the day I started stepping down from the tailgate of the truck without properly lowering it. So, in effect, I was dropping a short distance while carrying boxes. At the very end of the day my leg started to give way under me with the strain.

Shortly after this move I noticed a numb patch on my left arm and tingling in my left hand. The tingling was located in the thumb, and forefinger in the main with numb patched on my wrist and over my thumb too. I assumed it was as a result of my heavy lifting and waited 6 weeks for it to go away. It didn't disappear.

6 weeks later I visited my GP who x-rayed my neck (all fine), took bloods (all fine) and then sent me to a neurological consultant.

The neurological consultant conducted a Nerve Conduction Study Test which came back normal for a test for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the nerves along my arm. The test results were all normal, however, the way the arm nerve test was carried out seemed to be conducted by a junior doctor/trainee who seemed unsure of herself as the senior nurse was constantly 'badgering' her to get things right. I am therefore uncertain of the reliability of these results in my mind. (This is not a gripe, but an observation of the way the test was conducted)

Slowly the numb patch on my arm receded and has now gone. The numbness on my wrist has gone and the numbness over my thumb has mainly disappeared with the odd reoccurrence.

However, the numbness and tingling in my fingers continues. It comes and goes in intensity. At best the symptoms are slight pins and needles at the end of my finger tips. At their very best they are nearly 100% fine, but not quite. They were very good after I went on holiday last summer, but quickly returned. They have also recently been very good, but have suddenly gone backward as well. I am in a cycle of 'its getting better' then - 'oh no, it isn't'.

Lifting seems to make the symptoms worse. At first, when I looked down, (chin on chest)
the tingling in the thumb and forefinger would get worse. That is still the case today as I type now, but less so than at first. When I run, after 30 mins of running, my symptoms worsen. After 45 mins running I know that they will be 'bad again'

Recently I have noticed some tingling in the ring and little finger with a recent 'bad' time. However, this has been the first time it had ever gone to my little finger and is virtually never tingling. Sometimes I find it hard to differentiate the tingle in my ring and index finger, but it is definitely primarily worse in my thumb and forefinger.

Heat pads on my neck seem to make it worse and I have noticed that the cold seems to help my symptoms. So, a walk in the cold, relieves the tingling in my hand. Walking seems to help it too.

Thank you for your help - it is really appreciated as this is starting to get me down as I have no diagnosis and no prospect of knowing how to help myself, or indeed, even if I can.

Hello Giles,
So, you've had this for 18 months now. I'd like you to start with three tests please.

1. Turn your head to the left, and then look up. Ask your wife to stand behind you, place both hands on your head and GENTLY press down. What happens? Please be as specific as you can in all your answers. A wonderful, concise report that you wrote, by the way.

2. Look up the Upper Limb Tension Test by using the search function at Chiropractic Help. Do the test with your wife's help.

3. Does placing your hand on your head, or working above your head, relieve or aggravate the tingling? Do this when it's very prominent, say after a 45 minute run.

Keep to this thread please.

Dr B

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Nov 28, 2016
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Tingling fingers
by: Crystal

On October 24th I was in a minor auto accident, while driving a company vehicle; I was ok until later that night I started feeling sore, and the next few days worse.

I finally got into the doctor 3 days later, xrays were done and they said they seemed fine; I have been getting treated at a chiropractor for my lower back. It's horrible and makes me cry just about every time, it's not getting better at all.

Two weeks ago the Dr had to send a referral for authorization through workers' compensation to get my neck treated through the same chiro. They have YET to receive the info from workers comp to authorize the treatment; anyway, my neck, and left shoulder are killing me, I can barely move my neck to the left and can barely bend it looking down, and up, it hurts tremendously, the past week I've noticed some major tingling in my fingers, all of them on my left hand, but mostly my thumb and pointer, which goes down to the side of my hand; any answers?

I haven't gotten an MRI yet, asking for one tomorrow.

Hello Crystal,
Let's start with your lower back; when it's not responding then I recommend you start some lower back exercises; you'll find some at the chiropractic help site, but best to ask your chiropractor.

The thumb and pointer belong very specifically to the C6 dermatome; you've had a neck injury clearly. Obviously you have to go through the process of scans, a full examination and treatment; and, yes, neck pain hurts a lot.

Not sure what to add, except to say that MVAs almost always leave their mark; have you had any previous injuries?

Dr B

Jun 03, 2016
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Numbness and tingling in left hand all day and right only when I wake up
by: Nick

I feel like I have the same problem in my left hand but when I wake up in the morning my right hand falls asleep for a couple of minutes but then is fine. Is this the same problem?

You'll need to give me a lot more details, Nick. Which fingers, for example, and do you have neck pain? How long, what caused it and what provokes the pain.

Dr B

Apr 17, 2015
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MRI Result
by: Giles Coghlan

Thank you for your help -

I now have the results of the MRI scan which I received yesterday.

The scan result (skipping the normal bits) says 'Their are minor posterior disc bulges at levels C5/C6 and C6/C7, but there are no significant disc protrusions or osteophytic disc bars'.

The conclusion reads :' Multilevel cervical and upper thoracic mild disc degeneration, but no disc protrusions. No Nerve root or spinal canal compromise'.

My doctor has noted that the neck exercises I have been doing have been helping relieve symptoms of tingling, so has prescribed a muscle relaxant as an aid to this . ( Methocarbamol 750mg).

He says my outlook is unknown at this stage - could get better , could get worse. I feel relieved to have a cause for my tingling, but sad at the same time as my life has been affected by these symptoms.

I would like to thank you for your website and time, which led me to the exact cause of my complaint, and inspired me to start exercises which has lessened my symptoms.

Kind regards,

Giles

Hello Giles,
The MRI is better than expected, but nevertheless significant. What's good is there is no frank pinching of the nerve; the lack of movement between the joints is releasing noxious chemicals that are irritating the nerves.

Although the research is weak, I find that in combination with chiropractic treatment, a cervical traction unit will help. Get one that stretches your neck lying down, not sitting, and lie in it for about 20 minutes every day, slowly increasing the weight. They're not particularly expensive; your doctor might even prescribe it. It's not unpleasant; turn on some music and enjoy the relaxation.

Get onto an anti inflammatory diet; omega 3 and olive oil are a good place to start. Use the search function at Chiropractic Help. Hot peppers, including the seeds and placenta, are oddly anti inflammatory too.

Time to find a skilled and experienced local chiropractor?

Dr B

Feb 24, 2015
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A further note
by: Anonymous

Apologies for the strung out nature of my reply, but I have one further observation to make -

About 2 months after I first noticed my symptoms I noticed that I would have a crunching sound that occasionally came from my neck. It sounded like grinding your teeth, but it came from my neck area.

This 'crunching' soon stopped, probably by about 4/5 months into my symptoms, and has never recurred since then...

I am not sure of any significance to this , if any, but I thought it was worth detailing down.

Thank you,

G

It probably is significant, Giles. It means that there is some osteoarthritis developing from an old injury. Read more about immobilisation arthritis at Chiropractic Help. Start by adding cold water fish like salmon regularly to the diet; freshly ground flaxseed is good too. See the anti inflammatory omega 3 page.

Dr B

Feb 22, 2015
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Answers to questions 1 and 2
by: Anonymous

1. I noticed no increase in symptoms when I turn my head to the left and look up. When my wife added gentle pressure to my I similarly noticed no difference

2. I did the upper Limb extension test and similarly noticed no difference in symptoms.

Addendum : Since I have last posted I have been using some neck stretches, and shoulder blade 'stretches' - These seem to be helping as my symptoms are feeling 'very good' during the day , but returning during the night.

However, I visited my GP here who has now booked me in for an MRI scan of my neck.

I also further considered the one action that I have which creates a worsening and increase of my tingling, specifically, moving my head forward. I can report that moving my head down (chin towards chest ) and to the left - makes the symptoms much worse (loud nerve reaction in hand). Conversely, moving my head in the mirror opposite direction (up and to the right) brought some relief.

Hello again Giles,
It's good to hear you are going to have an MRI; that will probably reveal all. At this stage there's nothing clear to me.

One last test, and it's difficult. Find your wrist pulse in both arms with your other hand; if you turn your head and look up, and simultaneously take in a deep breath, does it change the strength of your pulse? It's called Adson's test.

It's most unlikely to be carpal tunnel syndrome by the way; that would also go into the middle finger and usually the ring too.

Would you type in the MRI report please when you have it.

Dr B

Feb 17, 2015
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Answer to question 3
by: Anonymous

I have the answer to question 3 and I will wait for my wife to return from her parents this weekend to answer questions 1 and 2.

Went to gym with my symptoms feeling ‘good’, with only a slight tingle. After 30 mins running the tingling in my left hand became pronounced and after 45 mins running at 10.5 kph my left hand was ‘bad’ with tingling in my thumb, forefinger and numbness over my thumb and extending over the inside of my wrist and up the forearm. I then placed my hands above my head and there was no significant difference in my symptoms. There was certainly no relief and if it did get any worse it was difficult to notice much difference. It certainly wasn’t pronounced although when I did it earlier in the day, without running there did seem to be a very slight enhanced tingle, but this was leaving my hand up in the air for 30 + seconds.

About 60 mins after my run my hand was back to feeling ‘good’.

Other observations I have had - Sneezing and coughing does briefly enhance the symptoms.

Working above my head did seem to make it worse after I was helping push a christimas tree up in a loft around Christmas time. This triggered a ‘bad’ few days.

Also, I did some upper body weights including some bicep curls and pectoral work which made my symptoms ‘bad’ again (about 10 days ago now). I will not be repeating these upper body weights again.

Thankyou

I think it best to wait until we have the results of the other questions so we can see the whole picture. Again, please be specific as you were with these.

Dr B


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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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