TOS - C8 - extreme pain!

by Elle
(Canada)


TOS - C8 - extreme pain!

Years ago, I was diagnosed with TOS contributed by 3 car accidents from behind and whiplash.

Over the years I have had numbness in my fingers, pain in my elbow, neck pain, shoulder pain and lower back pain - all on my left side (pain in my upper chest as well).

I can't turn my head, touch my ear to my shoulder, left or right side or tilt my head backwards.

I have pain in my jaw as well (I do have TMJ on left side so perhaps this pain just irritates it).

The amount of pain I was in a month ago took me to hospital for pain medication and an xray. The xray showed no bone spurs but the doctor feels that I have issues within C8.

This time, I hadn't been thinking and picked up a heavy bag with my left hand and felt a "tearing sensation" up my arm and then directly into my neck, down my shoulder and straight to lower back, my leg is also paining right now and my foot is numb. Could this really be pinched nerve(s)?

Hello Elle,
There are three separate, but perhaps interconnected things going on here.

Firstly, what's needed is to be sure that you have TOS and not a pinched C8 nerve root. Both produce pain running down the arm, both to the little finger.

But in TOS the arm pain and tingling in the fingers is increased by raising your arm as in hanging the washing. Both the artery and the nerves are affected.

Whereas, with a pinched nerve root, placing your hand on your head RELIEVES the pain. The so-called Shoulder Abduction Relief sign.

And in a pinched nerve root, the Upper Limb Tension Test will be very positive. Try this test at home.

So, which sounds more familiar?

The definitive test for TOS is the Adsons test but it's a difficult test to do objectively. Unless your doctor / chiropractor has done the test many times it's very difficult to be sure whether it's positive or not. Lots of false positives. Positive test in quite normal people.

In the presence of a positive Shoulder Abduction Relief, negative Adsons test and pain running down the arm when you turn your head to the left and simultaneously look up, I would recommend an MRI to be sure there's no disc prolapse.

Opposition of the thumb and little finger will often be weak. Or the triceps muscle depending on the nerve.

If you prick your arms with a pin, any sensory difference, right and left?

The jaw joint pain is probably unrelated, though it often causes UPPER neck pain and very severe facial pain and/or migraine headaches. TMJ anatomy ... try poking your finger into the pteryggoid pocket and seeing if the lateral pteryggoid muscle is EXTREMELY tender.


You can do the Slump test for sciatica at home. Try it.

These are all conditions that face the chiropractor every day, Elle, but none are easy and whilst I now treat them all fairly confidently, for the first 10-15 years that were often a nightmare.

So don't feel alone. You are hurting. Talk to friends and fam and your doctor and get the name of an experienced thorough chiro in your neck of the woods.

Good luck, let us know in a month or two how you are getting on. Get back to me if you want clarification;

Perhaps print this out and take to your chiro for discussion purposes.

Find a good chiropractor may be your next step.

Go from TOS - C8 - extreme pain! to Chiropractic Tips …

I hope this has contributed. Like to read? If so, this is my second book of chiropractic anecdotes, available on Amazon for $2.99. Bats in my Belfry … Chiropractic anecdotes from the coalface.

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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