Deep upper back, down the inner arm, funny bone to numbness in the fingers

by Stacy
(Culpepper, VA )

Which fingers are affected?

Which fingers are affected?

The pain came on gradually and maximized with a deep upper back pain, pain down my inner left arm, sore funny bone and numbness at the tips of my fingers; the thumb is fine.

Now after about a week and a half the arm is just slightly sore, the fingers are slightly numb but the deep upper back pain remains. It is not constant but sneaks up on me, depending on my movement, just irritating my arm and fingers but really hurting my upper back. It feels like a nerve ending is dangling and if I move the wrong way it would make contact and hurt.

When I put my arm up on my head the numbness at my fingertips does seem to slow a bit but quickly returns.

Do I have a T1 or pinched nerve problem?

Hello Stacy,
The level is not quite clear, but it's more likely the C8 nerve root; that's not important. It's up to your chiropractor to determine exactly where the lesion is.

Thank you for a very clear description; now try and work out exactly which fingers. Prick them with a pin perhaps, comparing sides.

The deep upper back pain is usually affected by the C5 nerve root, but that doesn't fit with the pattern in your arm. It may be a rib that's causing the pain, rather than from your neck.

The fact that raising your arm brings some relief suggests it's in your neck; the so called Shoulder Abduction Relief sign.

Now do the Upper Limb Tension Test that you will find using the site search function at chiropractic help.

Do any movements of your neck hurt? If you turn to the left and look up, what happens?

Xrays of your cervical spine, including oblique views and, if you have insurance, an MRI would be a great help.

Let me know what transpires, keeping to this thread.

Dr B

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Dec 09, 2014
Good call
by: Stacy

Dr. B,

Just wanted to let you know that the numbness in my pointer and ring finger is almost gone. The pain when I tilt my head to the left also is much less. But the numbness in my pinky and adjacent finger remains along with slight discomfort up my arm which is exactly what you determined in your first response to me. (the C8 Dermatome)

Hello Stacy,
You don't actually say; have to been to a local chiropractor?

Either way, it's good that things are looking up; remember our fifty percent less pain rule. The pain goes away faster than it heals. Just be careful, don't carry heavy packages in that arm and try and avoid looking up.

Great news.

Dr b

Dec 01, 2014
Very Helpful
by: Stacy

Thank you very much for your response and I hope your response will help others as well as relieve my discomfort. It's off to find A Chiropractic doctor and a traction tool.
Thanks again.

Pleasure, let me know how you get on.

Dr B

Nov 26, 2014
Oops, pertinent info omitted
by: neck and arm pain

Thank you Dr. B
In your response you suggested some neck test and it reminded me about something that could be pretty important. About 14 years ago I had a near herniated disc in my neck. I received two of the allowed steroid shots in the neck and was able to dodge the pain and operation by watching what I lifted and not lifting anything over my head. At that time I had neck pain and numbness to my pointer finger. (I think it was around C5,C6 orC7) Could my current problem be my old problem returning or aggravating other things?

Note: All neck movement is painless except for tilting my head to the left which I had from the older problem.

Hello Stacy,
That tilting of your head causing pain is very significant; is it in your neck or arm?

Yes, this is almost the same problem rearing its ugly head; be very kind to your neck now. No sleeping on your tum, or sitting in a chair, and no heavy lifting with that arm.

A traction device, used lying down, at home, coupled with chiropractic adjustments can be very helpful.

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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