My upper cervical neck, shoulder, down the arm with tingling and numbness is all on the left side, not on the right.

by George G
(Syracuse NY USA)

Ever had x-rays of your neck?

Ever had x-rays of your neck?

Three weeks ago while sleeping against propped pillows, I was awakened by excruciating pain on the left side of my neck, all over the front of my shoulder, upper inside of the shoulder blade, collar bone leading down my arm into my left hand accompanied with sweating on this one side of my upper torso. The pain was so intense, and sensitive to the touch that I wasn't sure if I broke something, was having a stroke or heart attack.

With struggle for about 15 minutes, I sat up but the pain and tingling were intense while feeling the law of gravity attempting to intensify the pain and sweating. I sat in the dark with tears caused by the struggle and pain. My mobile phone was near me, so I called 911 for help. While the 911 operator spoke with me, I used my dresser bureau as a right side support to stand up and get to my living room on the same floor. I sat down on the living room couch, still on the phone with 911 operator.

About 20 minutes later Metro Ambulance arrives. Nearest hospital, four blocks from my home. At the hospital, I was given an EKG for probable heart attack. No heart attack. And then without any further tests, the ER doctor only told me to be still, stop complaining about the pain, it's only a muscle spasm. The doctor wrote a non-refill prescription for Naproxen(500 mg)and Valium(500mg) to be taken 2x daily with food. I was there in the ER for almost 6 hours with no pain medication, a rude nurse mandating insurance information that came in about 3 hours after I arrived there.

Finally I was given one capsule Naproxen and sent home. The medication is finished and I still suffer with this pain and tingling. I have researched this ailment, found your website and it is a treasure! Any advice? I would greatly appreciate it.

A little more background please, George. Why were you sleeping propped up against pillows? There's a likelihood that your head would start to go into strange positions whilst sleeping.

Do you have any history of neck pain; any tingling in the arm before? Have you had any significant old injuries to your neck.

Did anyone examine your neck at the ER?

Two more questions: please answer as accurately as you can.

1. When you are having tingling in the arm, raise it above your head; do the paresthesias increase, or are they reduced?

2. When you turn your head to the left, and then look up, what happens.

Let me know, sticking to this thread.

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.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

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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.