Numbness in thumb, index and middle finger.

by Robert
(Arizona)



I am a 53 year old man in good health. I sought chiropractic adjustment for tightness and muscle spasms in my rhomboids, and levator scapulae on the right side of the body along with adjustments to my lower back and hips. He also did some acupuncture on the area. Two hours after the adjustment I noticed my thumb, index finger and middle finger on the right arm becoming numb. I also began to have muscle spasms up and down the lower part of my arm in addition to my armpit and pectoral area. No localized pain in the neck area, but the same tightness in the Rhomboid area that I sought treatment for. I have never had any numbness symptoms in the past. I called my chiropractor and he agreed to see me the next day.

He said he has never had a reaction like mine from an adjustment and seemed genuinely concerned about my condition. He believed my symptoms could be similar to that as a stinger or a nerve stretch. and treat with ice and stretching. Which I have been doing.

It has been 9 days now since the original adjustment. Feeling has returned to my thumb, but the tip of my index and middle finger are still numb. The right side of the middle finger and left side of the index finger are numb. I have muscle spasms and tightness in my tricep, armpit and shoulder area. Still have tightness and cramp like pain in the Rhomboid area. Have no pain in the neck area.

Let me be crystal clear. I am not writing this as an indictment of chiropractic care. I have been receiving chiropractic care for over 25 years and have been helped with any and all back issues. In addition my Chiropractor has over 30 years experience an impeccable reputation as a gentle are giver and I have been his patient for close to 20 years. I really just seek any information to causes of the impingement and ideas about further treatment.

Hello Robert,
Thank you for your letter; you are a 'good' chiropractic patient who has had a reaction to treatment, and not gone overboard like so many do. It happens daily in a medical clinic that patients react to medication as you have once in 22 years to a chiropractic treatment; I respect you.

If you look at the above graphic you'll notice that your tingling is not in one of the dermatome patterns; rather it is more like the whole median nerve coverage. Is there any suggestion that it touches the ring finger?

If you turn to the right, and look up, does it produce any reaction in the lower neck, rhomboid region or arm?

Prick the fingers involved and compare hands; is there a distinct difference? More sensitive or less? Is there any feeling of weakness, particularly in the fingers or triceps? Do you know if there are any reflex changes?

Those muscles spasms in the arm that you mention; are they like little non painful twitches; they are called fasciculations.

Using the site search function at Chiropractic Help, type in upper limb tension test; with the assistance of a friend compare the tightness in the lower arm. Is there a distinct difference?

This is indeed not unlike a stinger; I wonder if in the needling he may have pricked the median nerve? If so, it will most likely gradually settle.

If any of the above tests raises any questions then I'd discuss them with your chiropractor; otherwise let a week or two pass, and I suspect these symptoms will pass.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B


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» Numbness in thumb, index and middle finger.







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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'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.



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