So many 'symptoms' so may questions

by Danielle
(Virginia)


So I have recently gone to my navy medical for help and they basically tell me I am fine; the usual answer. I have had a neck issue for several months now; previously had a shoulder surgery which they said "your neck has been over worked and will go back to normal when your recovery from shoulder surgery is completed".

So I am now at 8 months after surgery and have began to get worse on my neck. Sometimes I can't feel my face, it feels numb and drooping but I can feel my fingers touching my cheeks and mouth.

Also I have weird sensations down my arms; it's pain but at the same time numbness and tingling. And the worst one of all is if I tilt my head to the right I feel "normal" but as soon as I tilt it left I can feel the blood drain as if I had my body flipped upside down.

I have had a kink in my neck for about 8 months and I know it's hitting some nerve but not which ones. I have the MRI readout if you would like it. I am in desperate need of help!

Hello Danielle,
You need to find someone skilled in doing Adson's test. It's quite subjective so only a person who does it regularly will know the difference between what is normal, and what is not.

The blood supply to your arm passes through a narrow space called the interscalene triangle, along with the nerves. If they are being pinched in that area, usually by a subluxated first rib, then if you tilt your head to the side, rotate and look up, and simultaneously take in a deep breath, then the pulse in your wrist lessens and even ceases; it will feel as though your arm is starved or drained of blood. There are other variations of this test that I won't go into. It's called a thoracic outlet syndrome.

However, this may be more complicated than that; the sensory nerve to your face doesn't come from your neck. The trigeminal is a cranial nerve, so the facial numbness has nothing to do with your spine. Do you have any jaw joint, or TMJ, issues?

Neither of these areas of entrapment would show up on an MRI of your cervical spine.

Then that tilting of your neck is also very similar to what is known as Spurling's sign; that certainly is an entrapment in the cervical spine with immediate referral to the arm.

Your shoulder may be normal, but there's obviously something else going on. My advice is to see a neurologist who can examine you more thoroughly. In short it's complex and will take a skilled and committed neurologist, or chiropractor with a strong background in neurology, to work it all out.

The search function at Chiropractic Help will enable you to find out more about these terms; it's in the navigation bar on your left.

Good luck, I hope this has contributed. Let me know when you have a diagnosis that is clearly correct and suggested course of action.

As a rule of thumb trust those able to examine you rather than some unknown quantity on the web. There's no harm using your own brain and doing a bit of your own search though; particularly when you feel you're being given the run around.

Dr B



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