Tingling in fingers one and two

Tingling in fingers one and two belongs specifically to the C6 nerve root; typical is lower arm pain radiating into the thumb and pointer.

Paresthesias can be a vague ache but, when a nerve root in the neck is pinched, the symptoms can be very specific and severe. Arm pain is a common complaint in the chiropractic clinic.

When you have these symptoms in the upper extremity and first two digits then we know exactly where the problem is. There should be no talk of carpal tunnel syndrome which will also affect the middle finger and usually the ring finger too; a wrist operation will do nothing to relieve the discomfort. The problem is exhibited precisely in the C6 dermatome.

Derm meaning skin; that patch of skin innervated by the C6 nerve root. The problem almost certainly lies in the neck between the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae.

Tingling in fingers one and two

The highly sensitive nerve root of a cervical spinal nerve emerges between numerous structures that can affect it:

Joint of Luschka.

The hyaline cartilage in all these structures is highly dependent on movement within the joints to provide normal nutrition.

Spinal fixations caused by injury, poor posture, weak muscles, sleeping on the tum will have a very detrimental affect on the nerve root causing, in this instance, tingling in the thumb and index finger.

As the cartilage, starved of nutrition and oxygen, begins to release toxic waste products of degeneration, not only the nerve root is irritated, but the joint begins to develop osteoarthritis.

Muscles causing arm pain

Many of the shoulder muscles and the capsule of the shoulder joint, are innervated by the C6 nerve. Not only does tingling in fingers one and two begin, but the shoulder becomes weak and vulnerable as the rotator cuff muscles waste resulting in many of the shoulder syndromes like frozen shoulder ...

The arm pain can be severe and may appear muscular in origin, but frequently the underlying problem is in the lower neck or in the interscalene triangle; notice how many nerves and the artery pass through this area.

The muscle most usually affected is the triceps which extends the elbow. Try doing press ups. Does the affected upper arm tire much more quickly?

Interscalene triangle.

Chiropractic Help

Whilst there is a place for the limited use of anti inflammatory drugs in the treatment of these arm pain and tingling syndromes, it should be viewed as symptom treatment.

This is not essentially an inflammatory process.

In the view of chiropractic it's vital to treat the cause, not the symptoms. Get that fixated joint that is causing the tingling in fingers one and two moving again.

Whilst no treatment is perfectly safe, no one dies from the chiropractic adjustment of the lower cervical spine, and certainly people can and certainly do bleed to death from taking anti inflammatory drugs for an extended period. Watch the stool for black blood.

But, yes, cervical manipulation of a herniated disc may not be successful in reducing the nerve root pressure in severe cases, but it will only very  rarely aggravate the problem.

Tingling in the thumb and index finger

Upper Limb Tension Test

You can do the relatively simple Upper Limb Tension Test for a pinched nerve at home, though the interpretation of the results requires some experience.

Neurological diseases

There is today a growing plethora of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, or MS, which cause bizarre symptoms not unlikely the tingling in fingers one and two that we have been considering.

No one is certain of the causes but, in my opinion, it's almost certainly related to vast array of chemicals being added to our foods, and the removal of vital minerals by the food processing industry.

Take simply the degradation of healthy whole wheat into white flour, or the hydrogenation of oils and use of margarine, for example; or the chemical process to remove the caffeine from coffee. The list is endless.

Get back to the foods that granny served, and not the crap mother bought from the supermarket. Start perhaps by considering the whole issue of smart bran.

Index finger sprain

If there is any swelling of the joints in the first two fingers, or a history of trauma, then that two may cause tingling in one or both fingers; then it's usually clear that it has nothing to do with the cervical spine, though a fall on the hand can injure the neck too. Testing the ranges of motion of the neck, and doing the upper limb tension test will help to rule out a spinal injury causing the tingling in fingers one and two.

Index finger sprain is a potentially disabling injury too.

Useful links

Interesting questions from readers

» Tingling in fingers one and two

Contact me directly right here.

I receive many questions at Chiropractic Help. It might be help for a spinal condition, but it could also be about a failed Carpal Tunnel operation, or some such thing.

I will do that by answering your questions personally, but it will be converted to a Web Page so others can benefit from your questions. Omit your surname if you like.

However, do understand that, in the main, I'm going to be directing you (should it be pertinent) to a Chiropractor in your neck of the woods. I'll respond to all reasonable inquiries, but please be specific, and give some details: which fingers, what increases the pain, and relieves it, injuries, do x-rays show anything, does placing your arm on your head relieve or increase tingling in the arm... without these sort of details, I'm unable to give a sensible answer.

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There is no charge for this service, however if you find my answer useful, you might like to consider purchasing my latest book, Stones in my Clog. Gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a Chiropractor. It's only $2.99. Use the site search function.

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Interesting questions from readers

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 have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is 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 is 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 pain-free. 

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 is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has 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 stroll 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; he has a short leg.

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. X-rays 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 few months 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 is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year 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 could not 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 should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

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Interesting questions from visitors

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Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is 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.

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More interesting questions from readers

Brachial plexus

The brachial plexus of nerves that supply the arm.

Chiropractic first poster.
The inter scalene triangle through which the nerves to the arm must pass.
Diagram showing how the thoracic outlet can cause arm pain.
Thoracic outlet surgery is a very delicate business.

Arm pain

1. Shoulder

Shoulder pain.

Frozen Shoulder

A man with a frozen shoulder.

Rotator cuff

The muscles involved in a rotator cuff strain.

"My thumb, forefinger and middle finger went weak after cuff surgery."

"Hello John, I take it you've been back to the surgeon.

It's probably temporary inflammation of the median nerve, but of course could be worse... I'm afraid I don't think chiropractic has anything to offer at this stage.

Once everything has healed up, if you don't get the strength back, or your fingers remain numb and tingly, then I'd consult a local chiro to see if there is also a problem in your neck or the first rib.

Dr B"

Letter from reader looking for advice.

Rotator cuff surgery.

2. Elbow

Path of the radial nerve.

Elbow pain

The tennis elbow muscles.

3. Wrist

The median nerve entrapment sites.
Diagram showing how the pronator teres muscle can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

How bad is your arm shoulder hand pain?