Tingling in hands and arms as well as chest ache

by shane
(London, U.K)



Dear Doctor, I would very much appreciate some advice for an issue that has really concerned me for a few years now.

More recent symptoms have been tingling and numbness in my left hand (ring finger and little pinkie finger only), along with a generalized aching in the upper left arm, intermittently while at rest.

These symptoms are predated by intermittent dull aching and pain on the left side of the chest, roughly where the heart/breastbone is I would say. This pain/aching in chest area regularly comes and goes and is unrelated to exertion, and normally occurs when I am at rest. It has occurred for a few years now. Sometimes the chest pain/ache is relatively strong and uncomfortable and at other times it is mild and barely noticeable.

My doctor in the past has guessed at a possible gastro/reflux related cause. GP examinations, resting ecg testing by the doc, as well as at my local hospital, have not uncovered anything abnormal. Chest Xray, examination and blood test at hospital also showed no abnormalities. I am a 42 year old male, light smoker (3-5 per day). Thank you for your time doctor and I look forward to hearing from you.

Dear Shane,
Run your fingers down your chest just on either side of the sternum; are one or more of the costo-sternal joints on the left signficantly more tender that those on the right? Is there a palpable lump? I suspect a condition called costochondritis, which if it worsens can turn into Tietze's syndrome. Use the Site Search function at Chiropractic Help to understand these terms.

There is often associated mid back, near the shoulder blade, discomfort or pain.

The pinkie and ring finger belong very specifically to the C8 dermatome; do you have any lower neck pain; any weakness in the hand such as in removing a tight bottle lid? If you turn your head to the left, and simultaneously look up, what happens?

This can also be caused by what is known as a 'thoracic outlet syndrome.' Then, when you get tingling and numbness in your hand, if you raise your hand above your head, it will usually get worse.

Conversely, from a pinched nerve in the neck, raising your arm brings relief.

Get help from a friend to do the 'upper limb tension test.' See below.

I'm simply throwing out thoughts; if you want useful help, then give me very specific answers to the questions above.

Dr B



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» Tingling in hands and arms as well as chest ache.




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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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