Tingling and numbness from elbow to tips of fingers especially thumb and pointer

Thumb and pointer finger

Thumb and pointer finger

Thumb and pointer finger
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Shoulder abduction relief sign.

2 months ago I had a lot of pain in the right shoulder that went into my arm. I had one massage thinking if I could relax the muscles it might relieve the pressure on my nerve. I thought I had a pinched nerve in my shoulder.

Then we went on vacation and I found it very difficult sitting on a plane as my shoulder pain got quite severe. Then the pain, tingling and numbness moved into my hand, for a while it felt like the whole hand. In Mexico I picked up a box of prednisone tabs and after one 20mg tablet the pain lessened to a point where I could sleep and enjoy our cruise. I took 10 mg of prednisone the next two days and after that I had only tingling and numbness in my arm from the elbow down to the tip of my thumb and pointer finger.

Now at times I have it in my whole hand as well as my little finger. I have rheumatoid arthritis so am not sure this has something to do with that as well. The tingling and numbness gets severe enough that when I try to pick something up I nearly drop it. It does lessen when I put my arm up. Not sure what to do about this.

You make no mention of neck pain. Does turning your head to the right, and then simultaneously looking up provoke anything? This is called Spurling's sign; you can find out more by using the site search function at Chiropractic Help.

The thumb and pointer belong very specifically to the C6 nerve root, so there's a great likelihood this is coming from your neck. This is confirmed by the fact that putting your arm up relieves the pain; the 'shoulder abduction relief' sign. This is not likely to be primarily a shoulder problem.

However, if you have no neck pain and Spurling's test is negative, and because it seems to affect your whole hand, I'd also be looking at a 'thoracic outlet syndrome', but this is less likely.

This is where the rheumatoid arthritis comes in; generalised inflammation and swelling. It's an autoimmune disease that calls for a radical change of diet; my recommendation is you become a health food junkie because RA can be a crippling illness.

In particular look up the meaning of resistant starch and retrogradation of starch; this is vitally important as carbs then reach the colon instead of being digested producing glucose.

In the colon they instead are fermented forming healthy short chain fatty acids like butyrate that are strongly anti inflammatory.

Start getting used to the idea that refined carbohydrate, white rice, russet potatoes, anything but 100% wholemeal bread, are killers for you; they will and already are crippling your body. I'm making assumptions and if I'm totally off beam, my apologies.

It's hard making such a radical change in diet; but just consider the alternative. Pain, lots of it, and worse disability.

I would get an x-ray of your neck, including oblique views. Let me know what they show.

Dr B




  1. Chiropractic Help
  2. Tingling in arms and hands
  3. Tingling in fingers one and two
  4. Tingling and numbness from elbow to tips of fingers especially thumb and pointer

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Chiropractic help Questions (Neck pain).





The EU law insists that we must place the following statement on our site, though we do not use cookies. “Our advertisers use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. They may also share information from your device with their social media, advertising and analytics partners.”


Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.


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.



Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?


Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.


You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.