Tingling in the head

Dear Dr.

Thanks for taking the time and reading my concern and I highly appreciate your advise.

I injured my lower back in October which lead to a slight bulge in the L3-L4 and L4-L5 of the spine. At the time my doctor advised exercises to close the bulge and nothing more.

However, since then my situation has gotten worse and I've started experiencing symptoms of sciatica - tingling in the legs, mild bands of nerve pain along the thighs, shin, pain in the lower back when I bend forward, etc - all of it triggered as soon as I sit in my office chair or on the floor.

In addition to these symptoms I experience tingling in the head (and sometimes in the face) as soon as I sit in my chair. Along with the tingling I also feel pressure exerted outward from within the top and side of the head. Tingling is also felt when I move my neck sideways while seated.

As soon as I get up from the chair and start moving around I feel better.

Based on the little knowledge I have about of the human nervous system, the sciatic nerve only runs down the lower body. Why would sitting and (possibly) irritating the sciatic nerve cause tingling in the head?

It appears that I have problems both in the lower back and the upper back, which worries me.

What would you advise me to do?

Warm Regards,

Hello Ranjit,
You almost certainly have two different problems, one in the lower back, and one in the neck.

In theory, it's possible for a condition called cervical spinal stenosis - a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck - to effect the legs, but it's unlikely. The fact that you get tingling in the legs when you bend forwards, and sit, points to the lower back.

When movements of your head and neck cause tingling in the arms, then you can be sure it's coming from your neck too.

Get X-rays of both your neck and back, and start looking for a doctor / chiropractor / physiotherapist who can address these problems.

The chair is often the biggest enemy. Try and sit less especially in the luxury comfortable chairs. And the car.

Ice is your best friend for pain, see our latest newsletter.

Do our lower back exercises EVERY morning before getting out of bed, but avoid any exercises that involving lifting the head - that will affect the neck condition adversely. Do them as often as possible.

I hope this contributes.

Dr. Barrie Lewis

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Sep 30, 2011
Tingling accompanies pressure in eyes/head
by: Anonymous

Dear Dr.B,

Thanks for your detailed response. I have started performing my exercises (a lot of stretching) in the morning and evening.

My neurologist has ordered a neck and servical MRI and I am eager to have it performed. In the meanwhile, I've been trying out different types of chair, seat and back cushions, and what have you.

Lately, in addition to the tingling in the head, I feel a lot of pressure in the head and the eyes when I am sitting. Perhaps blow flow is being cut off. This causes dizziness, mental fog and difficulty thinking and making speech.

Can an improper chair/bad posture cause pressure in the head and cut off blood flow?

Thanks for your insights. I appreciate it.


Dr. Barrie Lewis Dr. Barrie Lewis

Hello Ranjit,
You have to rely on your local neurologist for advice. Obviously I have no idea if you have a neck or brain problem, high blood pressure, or whether this mental fog is being caused by your medication. Beware of anti-cholinergic medication, they are known to cause exactly these symptoms.

Have you had cold water squirted in your ears, or the Hallpark-Dix test done, where your neck is extended and turned to the side? Tests for an inner ear problem, the most common cause of dizziness: BPPV Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.

Work with your local doctors, and if you can find a chiropractor...

Dr. Barrie Lewis

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