Swollen above left clavicle and tingling left hand

Inter scalene triangle

Inter scalene triangle

Swollen above left clavicle and tingling left hand

Lets start with my profession. I am a professional wedding photographer and when I'm not shooting, I am sitting at my computer working on files. I am also a very restless sleeper and tend to favor sleeping on my left side.

A month ago, I was really sick with a cold. Severely congested, horrible cough and fever. After the 3rd day, a fellow photog noticed that my neck / trap / collarbone area was very swollen. I thought it might have been the way I was sleeping.

For 4 months my left hand has been 'falling asleep'. Tingling more than numb. Usually constant yet sometimes will stop. If I exercise it is worse. I hike in the mountains and find that my hand goes severely numb and tingling and then I feel a bit dizzy. I thought the dizzy was because I am a bit out of shape. (I am 5'3" and 129)

I have Celiac Disease and Hypothyroid (100mg synthroid daily). I am osteopenic.

Since yesterday I have noticed that behind my left ear, it is also starting to tingle.

My family doctor seemed quite concerned since my chest is also tight. My husband keeps telling me it is because my muscles are super tight from being stressed. I am in the middle of my busy season and am also a mother and wife trying to juggle everything. I just had a bunch of blood work done and on tuesday I am going for xrays of my C7 area, neck and supraclavular area as well as an ultra sound.

I am tired.

I have also noticed that my left eye swells (gets puffy under my eye). Goes away near the afternoon.

I have medium high blood pressure. I have a heart murmur but a crazy high heart rate these days. ie/ 133 over 91 with 78 bpm or 124 over 93 with 96 bpm

My neck cracks alot on its own. I have scoliosis and wore a back brace in my teen years for 4 years.

Dear F,
Firstly thank you for a concise, clear history. I wish everyone could write like you!

Your doctor is following the right course. Any swelling around the collarbone needs to be examined carefully. The brachial plexus of nerves pass through the area, hence the tingling in your arm.

Take note of exactly which part of your arm and hand tingles. Try pricking with a needle, comparing right and left.

Note whether placing your hand on your head relieves or increases the tingling.

Ask your doctor to check Adson's test for the pulse in the arm. Both the nerves and the artery to the arm pass through the Inter Scalene Triangle and it's important to know whether one or both are affected.

Carry your camera bag over the other shoulder. Don't carry heavy shopping bags with your left arm. If your neck cracks of itself don't be too concerned but don't pop it deliberately, it will only aggravate the problem. See the newsletter sent separately.

I'm not too concerned about your weight, your BMI is perfect, nor about your BP. The fluctuating heart rate is to do with your thyroid condition.

Your thyroid and parathyroid glands sit right there in that area too, so a consult with that specialist should be part of the examination.

I hope this has contributed something. Tired? Which mother, wife, housewife, busy job isn't? But perhaps your thyroid levels need to be checked. When did you last have two, or preferably three consecutive week's holiday?

Dr Barrie Lewis

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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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