Entrapment in the thoracic outlet may affect the blood and nerve supply.
Does raising your arm increase or relieve the symptoms?
Numbness in left arm, fingers and shoulder blade suggests a pinched nerve in the neck in the first instance.
For around 4/5 months I've been getting constant throbbing, numb like pain in my left arm with a pins and needles like sensation going into my fingers and thumb. The pain seems to be mostly around the inner forearm and around the funny bone like when you hit your funny bone and the electric shock type feeling.
I also have a constant dull pain in my left scapula especially noticeable at night when I'm laying in bed and when there is pressure applied upon it. I get occasional pain in the upper left chest also. In the past month or so I have noticed the pain also radiating into my upper arm where my bicep is. This pain occurs only on the left hand side and is the side which I don't use very much.
I'm an electrician and do a lot of twisting and turning and around 10 years ago I broke my left wrist and have had several electric shocks in the past but I am not sure if that has anything to do with it.
I've had an x-ray done of my left upper chest and left scapula which both came back fine. I have been waiting nearly 3 months for a referral to the orthopaedic department of the hospital but am not sure if this is the proper way to go. Please help as this pain is starting to wear me down and get in the way of my daily lifestyle now.
Hello William, Symptoms radiating to both the hand and the midback, suggests the source is somewhere in the lower neck, or what is called the thoracic outlet. With the former, the neck, the symptoms in your arm are likely to be relieved when raised above your head, but an impingement in the thoracic outlet worsens when working up high. Which is it?
Take note of exactly which fingers are affected; this is critical to a correct diagnosis. Carpal tunnel syndrome for example will affect the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.
Then, does turning your head to the left, and then looking up provoke any symptoms in the midback or arm? This is called Spurling's sign.
Ask your wife to help you do the upper limb tension test; this would confirm you have a pinched nerve in the neck. The triceps muscle is likely to become weak; watch out for that; elbow extension as in doing pressups. Was there any change in the reflexes when your doctor examined you?
Try pricking your arm, and comparing with the right, using a pin; is there a significant difference.
That upper chest pain; is there any tenderness, or a lump where the ribs or collarbone meet the sternum? Compare right and left.
The last test is a difficult one for you to do, but you might try. Locate the pulse in your left wrist with your right fingers; now turn your head to the left, look up and take in a deep breath; does it affect the pulse; does the pulse return when you breathe out and return your head to the neutral position?
It's called Adson's test. Use the 'Site search' in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help to find terms like these explained.
With your left elbow against your side, grasp your wrist with your right hand, and pull outwards. Is it as strong as your right arm?
I would recommend an x-ray of your neck, including the oblique views. Let me know if these tests turn up anything interesting.
you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend.
Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.
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've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's 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's 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 painfree.
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's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.
5. Mr T is a wise man; he's 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 walk 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.
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. Xrays 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 year 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's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.
12. Mr D is a 38 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 couldn't 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 shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.
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.
Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's 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 chiropractors do.
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'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.
MONTHLY NEWSLETTER. Signed up yet? It's free. BACK ISSUES
"Wow, fantastic newsletter." Dr Leah Remeika-Dugan DC
Issue #50: Make time for breakfast / Scrambled eggs and parsley
Issue #49: Consulting a locum / Green salad /Eggs Florentine
Issue #48: Hips and the sacroiliac joints/ Bacon and eggs
Issue #47: Life without medication/ Eight coloured foods
Issue #46: Lower backs and ankles/ kaempferol and cancer prevention
Issue #45: Tingling, weakness and malaise/ vitamin B1
Issue #44: Applying general chiropractic principles to the hand / Omega-3
Issue #43: Art and science of chiropractic / Kale
Issue #42: Tum sleeping / Flaxseed
Issue #41: Adult potty training / Beetroot constipation
Issue #40: Ominous lumbar signs / Too much medication?
Issue #39: Swapping chiropractors / Butter is back
Issue #38: Making a correct diagnosis / Make your own pesto in five minutes.
Issue #37: Have your wisdom teeth out in the chair
Issue #06: Safety on the Stairs / Ginger
Issue #05: Safety in the home / Red foods
Issue #04: Whiplash and the Joints of Luschka / Parsley
Issue #03: How to stop falling / Danger of a low fat diet
Issue #01: Tingling in the arms and hands / Apples
(PS. If you find them irrelevant to your needs or an exercise in tedium, one click will UNsubscribe you.)
This site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or manage any illness. Please consult your chiropractor.
The information is to the best of my ability at the time of writing accurate and correct. Queries, comments and corrections are very welcome.