Numbness in different fingers on both hands

by Julie
(California )

Numbness in different fingers on both hands suggests degenerative change at two different levels.

Hello Doctor.

My name is Julie and I had a question about some numbness I've been experiencing. I'm moderately concerned that it might be related to my c-spine.

Before I start with that, here is a little background. I've been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease due to multiple herniations in my lumbar spine that had occurred at separate events. L4-L5 herniated in 2002 but spontaneously resolved and L5-S1 herniated in 2005 leading to a collapsed disc that had to be fused with an ALIF. That fusion fractured and was re-fused with a PLIF in 2014.

Now for the now symptoms. In my right hand I lose sensation in my 4th and 5th digits. The numbness extends up the forearm along the side of those fingers before migrating into the inside of my elbow at the bend. It goes away after that. In my left hand, the thumb and index finger lose sensation and it goes up into my wrist, ending a few inches above the joint. Sleeping often aggravates the numbness as does laying on my stomach propped up by my elbows as I play with my phone.

As far as actual pain, I don't really have any with the exception of in my shoulder muscles near my neck that extends up the sides of my neck along the back are incredibly stiff and multiple knots have been found in massage. Rubbing them provides temporary relief, but the spasms always returns within less than an hour. My c-spine is often stiff and when I move it, putting my ear to each shoulder you can hear it "cracking". Sometimes this relieves the the numbness, but not always.

There has been no trauma to my neck. The herniations in my spine occurred when I was a floor nurse but since the first fusion I now have a desk job where I sit with my neck tilted up watching multiple monitors for 12 hour shifts. I've adjusted my workspace to the full limits of the limited ergonomic capabilities I have available.

Does this sound like something a chiropractor could help with or is this something that I need to fight with getting a referral to an orthopedic doctor? Obviously I worry that this might be the DDD I spoke of, but the idea of starting down that path again is unpleasant at best.

Thank you for your time.

Hello Julie,
I'm afraid I think it likely that you have the same DDD in your neck; either forgotten trauma, but if you have it in the lower back too, then I wonder about your diet.

Interesting research from Harvard on the value of a bouillon made from chicken bones, harvesting the cartilage for your own joints; use it to make a soup. Find the link from the Site Search in the nav bar.

The pattern of numbness fits classically with the C6 and C8 dermatomes; you probably have degenerative change in the joints of Luschka in the lower cervical spine.

We treat the problem daily but I won't pretend it's easy; every case is a challenge, particularly when you have it at two levels.

The thing to look out for is Spurling's sign; turn your head to the side, and look up; does it go down the arm immediately?

Start by getting some x-rays, including obliques.

I wouldn't lie on your tum; it will aggravate your lower back too; are you doing daily back exercises? If not, the next lower back op is on the way. Find them in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B


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