(Keywords: tingling in arms and hands, tingling in feet and legs, chiropractic, dermatome, slipped disk, arm pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome)
PS. This is a long and important page at Chiropractic Help. Pour a strong cup of tea, get comfortable...
Tingling is primarily a sign of nerve irritation or damage. That could be in the brain or spinal cord, but more usually it is in the neck, or trapped between the first rib and collar bone, or somewhere in the arm, for example at the "funny bone", or in the forearm by the two bellies of the Pronator Teres muscle as occurs in the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Take special note which fingers are tingling. The tongue? Around the lips? Do movement of the neck provoke the pain and/ or tingling? What about raising your arms in the air? Does it increase or relieve the tingling?
Tingling in arms and hands, as a general rule of thumb! sorry to be puny, is not something for which your doctor or chiropractor are likely to recommend you rush off and make a consultation. Having said that, an unknown symptom never experienced before needs to be taken more seriously.
Down the left arm, sweating and nauseous? Get to the ER! Heart attack ...
However, neurological symptoms like tingling need to be attended to with greater concern. The neurological system is the most sensitive structure in the body, and early warnings are best heeded sooner rather than later. A young friend recently had a totally unexpected stroke, and is permanently blind in one eye. "Why didn't you come sooner," complained the neurologist. For six weeks he had been getting warning signs.
It's a hard decision: when must you rush off to the doctor or chiropractor, and when can you safely see if this too won't pass of itself. Inner wisdom is needed. When in doubt...
The situation needs also be assessed wisely. If you are healthy, and you wake up with tingling in your arm, I suggest you ignore it! But if you have a known heart condition, and the tingling is in your left arm, then obviously you shouldn't ignore it.
Likewise, if you have had a TIA before, or have high blood pressure or diabetes, then tingling should be considered in a most serious light.
For you, on a chiropractic website, more important is that, should you have had pain in your neck (or back, for that matter) for several days and now tingling in your arm or leg begins, then it is of the utmost importance that you immediately consult your chiropractor.
First, take note of what relieves and aggravates the tingling and pain. Does looking up hurt? Where? In the neck? In the pinkie? Does turning your head and then simutaneously looking up hurt? Again, where? Stretching out your arm? Putting your hand on your head?
Dermatomes, patches of skin belong to a specific nerve root.
A dermatomal pattern occurs when a nerve root is irritated in the neck, giving far more specific tingling (or pain) in the arm. For example,
In the C5 dermatome the tingling is felt on the side of the upper arm, and perhaps the side of the lower arm (the thumb side). Sometimes you may have tingling in arms and hands, bilaterally, but that is more typical of another condition. If it affects the motor nerve, then you will be prone to tennis elbow, and weakened Biceps and Deltoid muscles.
In the early stages of an irritated nerve in the neck, the skin becomes hyper-sensitive (more sensitive, if you rub your arm, or try pricking it with a pin), but later if you neglect the tingling it will become numb.
New research has demonstrated that the cartilage in the small joints in the neck are dependent on movement for the their nutrition. Fixations within these joints starve the cartilage of oxygen and nutrients, and cause the build up of noxious waste products. These may irritate the nerve, causing tingling in the arm.
Arthritic changes within the foramen where the nerve emerges is another cause of tingling and pain in the arm. It occurs after a poorly managed whiplash, damaging the tiny joints of Luschka. It could also be caused by a slipped disk in neck ...
Classically you may have pain in the lower arm and tingling in fingers one and two, the thumb and forefinger. In more serious cases the tingling is associated with a deep, numbing ache in arm, often worse at night.
Tip: Try sleeping with your hand under your head, or under the pillow.
The C7 and C8 nerves emerge from the lower neck, and will cause tingling in the middle finger (C7) and the ring and little finger (C8).
The most common muscle affected in a neck condition is the triceps,
an elbow extensor, usually when the nerve root is severely irritated.
Doing press-ups will be difficult - that arm will tire very quickly. The Triceps is innervated primarily by C6-C7-C8 nerve roots.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome never affects the pinkie, an important diagnostic point.
However, Cervical ribs and the First Rib syndrome (part of the so-called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) will often cause tingling in the ring finger and pinkie, which is NOT from the spine per se. Adson's test makes the diagnosis.
More about this subluxated first rib. It's a not uncommon cause of pain and tingling in arms and hands. The condition is called a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) in which the artery and nerve may be pinched in a triangle below the collarbone. The tingling is usually of a diffuse nature, rather than to one particular part of the arm (known as a dermatomal pattern). Working with your hands above your shoulders (hanging washing) is immediately very fatiguing as both blood and nerve supply are limited. In other words, not just in one single dermatome, like your thumb and forefinger, the C6 dermatome, for example, is affected.
Adson's test confirms the the tingling comes from an irritation within the Inter Scalene Triangle rather than a nerve root impingement. See the video at Adsons test ... but this is not a test to be done at home. It requires a great deal of experience to interpret the results.
Lesions of the T1 dermatome often cause pain in the upper midback - around the shoulder blade, sometimes to the front of the chest, and down the inner upper arm. Deep upper back pain ...
Tingling in arms and hands is not the only sensation that may be caused. You may also have numbness, weakness and arm pain ... The pain is of a deep aching nature, and can be very severe, and is often worst at night.
Placing your arm on your head, the so-called Shoulder Abduction Relief sign, or making a windmill motion with your arm may relieve the tingling in arms and hands.
For more information about neck pain anatomy ...
or the affect of neck pain and
tingling in the arm on society, click on these links. If you are eager to know about chiropractic treatment of tingling in arms and hands,
click here: neck pain treatment ...
You will notice there are variations in various dermatomal atlases. Some for example place the index finger in the C7 dermatome. More usually the index finger belongs to C6...
The definitive test for a pinched nerve in the neck is the upper limb tension test which places increasing stretch on the nerve roots. You can do this test at home to see if think you may have a pinched nerve, follow the link to YouTube.
After a test called Spurlings (which I don't recommend you do at home as it can increase the pain and tingling in arms and hands) the ULTT is probably the most commonly used test in my clinic, and you can test yourself.
Tingling and pain in the arms and hands raises a great deal of anxiety and concern. You can submit questions via Chiropractic Help Questions forum lower down.
Tingling in the finger tips and toes, and around the lips, coupled with anxiety and fatigue, and muscle cramps are signs of a fairly rare condition called Hypoparathryoidism. It's also a serious cause of osteoporosis.
Stiff joints in the neck are probably the most common cause of tingling
in the arms and hands. These are the result of an injury (for example
Whiplash Chiropractic ...)
or an improper movement or position. We are often consulted my people
with neck pain after sleeping in the upright position for example, or
having a child sitting astride the neck. For more about joint fixations,
or subluxations as we chiropractors call them,
Click here: Chiropractic subluxation ...
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another fairly common cause of tingling in the arms and hands. It usually starts in the thumb, index and middle finger, sometimes the ring finger but NEVER into the pinkie. It may extend into the arm, and then the other arm. It's always wise to simply start with these Carpal Tunnel exercises if there's merely tingling in the lower arm and hand.
Of course the general principles of the arms apply also to the legs. Irritated nerves in the lumbar spine by a
The most common sciatica refers to the outside of the foot and the small toe. If there is weakness you will have difficulty standing on one foot and raising your heel or great toe from the ground. For more about tingling in feet and legs ...
Researchers at the University of Canberra, Australia (reported in the medical journal Neurology (February 8, 2011) have found two things, tested independently, to help prevent MS.
People living in the south of Australia were 32% more
vulnerable that those in the north. This isn't new, people in the far
northern European and American states are also more vulnerable to MS.
Whilst Medicine would advise taking vitamin D pills, in Chiropractic we
advise a regular walk in the sun (with a hat) and more shellfish. You
can read about it here in this Mussel Facts page:
Mussel facts ...
Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.
Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Pose a question ...
Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question ....
Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no X-rays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.