Arms, fingers, and leg sleep or ache day and night

by Chris

Is this where your thigh aches?

Is this where your thigh aches?

Arms, fingers, and leg sleep or ache day and night demands a thorough examination.

I am 35 and have always been in good health. For about 6 months, I've had an issue where my left thigh aches while sitting. This is particularly noticeable in my car, as I often drive 1hr+ at a time. This only occasionally happens to right thigh, but both legs are restless when I try to sleep.

Now, just about week ago, after working fences hucking a chainsaw, barbed wire and tools through the woods, my arms and all fingers (but especially the middle, ring, and pinky) began to ache and fall asleep while doing normal, everyday tasks.

The most odd thing is that the arm and finger tips opposite of the side I sleep on will go to sleep, waking me up. I went to a Licensed Massage Therapist, and later to a Chiropractor explaining my issues, but I am sitting here awake at 2am because it is not any better after treatment. Now it is happening when I lay on my back as well. I can get no real relief. Can you help?

A man after my own heart, Chris. I too yesterday put up a fence, welded a gate and used the chainsaw. But these are heavy activities and a good stretching regimen before and perhaps after is important.

Pain in the upper thigh requires careful analysis; it can be from the lower back, either the sciatic (back of thigh) or front of thigh from the femoral nerve. So too it can be a pinched nerve in the groin causing what's known as meralgia paresthetica; see the distribution above of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Lightly rub your fingers down the thigh, and prick with a needle; is the difference as compared to the right leg?

Then sometimes upper thigh pain can be caused by a hip condition; is it painful and stiff in your pull your knee to the chest?

These are all very treatable, but the right diagnosis, and hence the pertinent treatment is vital. Did you have the feeling you were carefully and thoroughly examined?

Most likely these are two separate conditions.

The middle, ring finger and pinkie is a slightly unusual distribution. When they start to ache and tingle, does raising your hand above your head increase or lessen the symptoms? Testing for a thoracic outlet syndrome is more difficult. The pulse in the wrist lessens with certain specific movements; both the nerves and the artery may be affected in the interscalene triangle.

Do movements of your neck provoke anything in the lower cervical spine or arm, especially turning and then looking up?

The upper limb tension test which you can do at home will tell if it's a pinched nerve in the spine.

Rome wasn't built in a day; it takes a course of treatment to address these things; miracles we do at once but the impossible takes a little longer!

There is nothing unusual about the upper arm being affected when sleeping; it stretches out the brachial plexus. You don't sleep on your tum do you? A common cause of tingling in the arms.

I hope this all contributes to your conundrum. You'll find a lot of information at Chiropractic Help if you browse. If all else fails, see a neurologist; it's very unlikely to be something 'central' but it does happen.

Dr B

» Arms, fingers, and leg sleep or ache day and night

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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 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.

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Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

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.

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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.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.