Burning Pain Neck Shoulders Arms now Legs and Feet

by Kelly
(New Brunswick Canada)

Carpal tunnel never affects the pinkie

Carpal tunnel never affects the pinkie

It all began in March - after 2 months of working on a large project at a laptop for 45 hours a week, and lifting weights at the gym a few evenings a week, I started to feel a tingly burning sensation at the back of my neck (near where cervical and thoracic meet) and down my right arm. I'd stretch, shake it out, and keep working. It would come and go only when I was working. Fast forward to three months later, and it's constant. New computer setup that is ergonomic, way less working, but no help. And particularly bad while I'm trying to sleep, particularly in the arm and hand. Tingling, burning, pins and needles. I assume carpal tunnel, so I go to physio.

Then left arm begins too. They aren't sure what to do. Then I start to feel pressure at the base of my skull and occipital-like headaches. Then just a constant sense of my neck feeling tired. Then a constant buzzing in both wrists. Then buzzy sensations in my feet.

In October I had a MRI of my brain and cervical spine. All clear. X-rays show mild scoliosis of thoracic and lumbar spine and mild arthritis in neck. But apparently doesn't explain symptoms. Symptoms get so intense during driving that I try to stop all driving. Sitting makes them worse too. Try massage, osteopath, chiropractor, acupuncture. Chiropractor thinks maybe mild spinal cord compression from posture. Massage therapist thinks thoracic outlet for upper body but no clue about lower.

December brings sciatic-like pain in buttocks, calves, and feet along with the rest of the symptoms. Sacral pain as well. Tingling in lower face. Burning pain (like a hot poker) on back. Sometimes like a bee sting. Sometimes like a mosquito bite. No motor differences to speak of. Massage therapist comments that there are many active trigger points in neck, back, and glutes. But no luck getting anything to let go.

Neurologist appointment with EMG coming up. Feeling scared and hopeless. One year ago I was a healthy 30 year old without an ache or pain to speak of. Now I am unable to recognize the life I had.

Hello Kelly,
I understand your distress; it's justified. It's okay to feel scared, because it is scary, but try not to get angry.

It's good that you're seeing a neurologist; this is clearly central in nature, meaning it's not likely to be a pinched nerve in your neck or lower back. Ask him to check again on the MRI where the spinal cord emerges from the foramen magnum.

Whilst chiropractic, massage and physiotherapy might help with some of the symptoms, what's needed is a diagnosis.

When you have a nervous system that's angry for some unexplained reason, I always recommend going back to the basics; take a three week holiday; get some regular gentle exercise like walking and swimming; take a good long look at your diet; are you getting the mandatory 8-10 coloured foods every day and how much junk are you eating?

Start reading up on phytochemical foods, for example the oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil for its anti inflammatory effect, and start eating only breads made with 100% whole meal; nuts and seeds. I could go on.

In short, become something of a healthnut, but avoid the health nut neurosis. Talk to God, and look at your relationships.

It's vague I know, but I hope contributes in some small way. Please let me know when a diagnosis is made.

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 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.

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.

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.