Numbness tingling pins and needle pain down my right arm to hand and fingers after rotator cuff surgery

by Joe martinez
(Orlando Florida )

An enlarged uncinate process begins to irritate the spinal nerve.

An enlarged uncinate process begins to irritate the spinal nerve.

I had right rotator cuff surgery, a severe rupture like a 98% tear. After 8 months of PT, I started a work reconditioning program design to mimic heavy lifting and pushing, reaching and stacking of heavy luggage as a airline employee working on aircraft.

After a few months of strength and work reconditioning I complained to PT about pain in rhomboids right side. Was told to stretch a lot and ice. Two days later pain increased with neck stiffness and pain running down my right shoulder to the triceps area but still continued to exercise with weight program.

After a week neck stiffness increased and pain going down right shoulder to tricep area continued. Exercises stopped, 2 weeks after that I started getting tingling and numbing sensation with pins and needles like feeling going down the triceps area, over to the forearm and ending in my right hand and fingers.

What would you think caused that? It's intermittent and relief comes when I shake arm and place point to the right or putting right arm on my lap. Month later no stiff neck, no shoulder tricep area pain, just crazy pins and needles, arm and right hand going numb. Please help. I have been referred to a neck and spine specialist. Why?

Hello Joe,
You have been referred to a neck specialist because this is a typical cervical spine issue.

I'm speculating obviously but the course of events might run like this. First an old whiplash that was not well managed at the time; degenerative stiffness and immobilisation arthritis gradually set in, affecting the joints of Luschka.

The uncinate process becomes enlarged and begins to irritate one or more nerves that supply the arm and rhomboid area; and ache and weakness slowly progresses in the shoulder affecting in your case the rotator cuff. One of the muscles rupture, probably with the help of a cortisone injection which weakens the tendon.

The shoulder is treated, but the underlying cause of the whole business still has not been addressed; pain and tingling in the arm develop.

Does this sound familiar, or am I way off course? The first step is an x-ray, probably followed by an MRI of your lower neck.

Then, having seen the surgeon for his opinion, you have to decide whether to go Medicine, or give Chiropractic a chance; much depends on the extent of the injury in the cervical spine as to whether a course of adjustments would help. Identify precisely which fingers are affected.

Dr B


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» Numbness tingling pins and needle pain down my right arm to hand and fingers after rotator cuff surgery




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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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