Right arm tingling and numbness radiating down to the thumb

by Carrie
(Greenville Ohio USA)

This is for a friend who has been suffering for about 4 months now and won't seek treatment. I thought if I was armed with some good info I can convince him to change his mind.

About 4 or 5 months ago an ache and numbness developed in his right elbow extending down thru the thumb. Tingling also occurred and seemed especially painful at night.

Since then the symptoms have traveled up his arm, above the elbow to the shoulder area. Laying on his back at night only increases the pain, and lying on his left side decreases it a little due to the right arm and shoulder being able to hang and moving forward a bit. But the dull ache and numbness and tingling still prevent any deep sleep...and actually some nights no sleep at all.

At about the same time the arm pain started, a simultaneous sinus/chest congestion issue was occurring. Coughing, sinus pressure and respiratory issues were preventing sleep as well.

My friend is a carpenter by trade and uses tools of the trade. He also is an active softball player and a decent athlete. He told me he fell directly on his shoulder this summer while playing ball, but thought nothing of it.

Any thoughts or ideas or advice you could give me to possibly point my friend in the right direction for treatment would be greatly, greatly appreciated!! Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this.

Hello Carrie, oh for more friends like you in the world. Nevertheless, you can lead a horse to water... your friend must himself choose to drink. You'll have to be wise, rather than trying to force the issue.

You make no mention of neck pain. So the first question is whether movements of his neck and particularly looking up and turning to the right provoke any neck pain, and tingling in the arm.

Secondly would you do the "upper limb tension test" on him; it's something you can do yourselves, and report to me what you find. Use the search this site function at Chiropractic Help.

Thirdly, you could take a pin and prick his arms and hands, comparing sides. Anything happening to the thumb usually affects the index finger too. Is there a difference?

And lastly, this condition can cause muscle weakness, usually the triceps muscle. Lying on his back, with a brick in his hand which he lifts to the ceiling, straightening the elbow, does the right arm tire more quickly? He could do press ups as well. Pinch the triceps muscles between your fingers; is there any obvious wasting?

You're right to be concerned. Nerve pain that continues for any length of time will cause these "hard" neurological signs eventually.

In short, a thorough examination, probably including x-rays of his neck are needed.

Be wise! Don't use the bulldozer.

I hope this contributes. Let me know how he gets on.

Dr B

» Right arm tingling and numbness radiating down to the thumb.

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