Sciatica / mid-upper right back pain and numbness/tingling right arm.

by Jim breneman
(Rhinelander, WI 54501)

I have been having issues with sciatica for almost a year. For the past 2 months have been going to a chiropractor because of the sciatic pain. He did an xray and told me that my L5 and S1 have a 28 gap with normal being 5. He said this was compressing the nerves and causing the pain.

After about 2 months of adjustments twice a week, I now have severe pain and a knot in the upper back, rhomboid area along with this pain I now have numbness, pain and tingling that runs down my entire right arm even into my fingers.

My chiropractor believes this numbness is unrelated to the pain in my upper back. He says this is from C4 and C5 in my neck. I have been out of work the past 2 days and have another appointment scheduled for tomorrow.

I am concerned that he has caused the pain in my back, and the numbness in my arm. If I lay completely flat the numbness subsides somewhat but the second i sit up or stand my arm goes numb again. What injury do I have and what would the correct treatment be ???

Hello Jim,
You're in a tough place.
Let's take these one at a time. The sciatica, pain down your leg, is it improving? Do you also have pain in your lower back? Think back, did your chiropractor raise your leg (probably lying on your back) in the beginning? Did it hurt in your leg? back? Can you remember how high?

Do two tests for me:

Bend slowly forwards, then backwards, then to the side. Do you get pain in the back, is the sensation, tightness, tingling in the legs the same? Does it hurt in the naughty leg?

Sit in a kitchen chair and do the Slump test for sciatica ... Does it hurt, or feel very tight in your leg?

The new pains? Did you have any midback, neck, arm issues prior to consulting the chiropractor? Old injuries?

Did he also adjust your midback and/or neck whilst treating the lower back? Every time? Occasionally? Did you have pain after the treatment?

Turn your neck to the right and then look up. Any neck arm pain ...?

Go to Search this site … and type in Upper Limb Tension Test. Do the test and let me know the result.

There are two schools of thought in chiropractic. One adjusts only the problem area, in your case the lower back. The second 'full spine' who will adjust other parts of the spine, especially if they find subluxations there.

I hover between the two, personally. Both have their merits, but I have in the past also hurt people, causing problems. It's not nice to visit a doctor and go home with a problem you didn't previously have! It's known as Chiropractic Iatrogenic Illness.

My best advice: Phone and ask the secretary to make an extended appointment. Tell her you have some important things you want to discuss.

Talk about it freely and honestly. If he is evasive and doesn't want to listen, then my advice is to go elsewhere.

It's a situation I've faced many times. There isn't a doctor alive who hasn't been involved in iatrogenic illness - doctor-caused disease. It's a nightmare in Medicine with a quarter of a million Americans actually dying of it every year. Iatrogenic illness ... It affects us in Chiropractic too.

This too will pass! I hope.

I hope this contributes.

Dr. Barrie Lewis

By the way, are you doing any lower back exercises ...? I would recommend. Ask your chiro which would suit you best.

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