Tingling/Burning/Freezing Hands

by Diane

I have had this problem now going on a year and my doctor keeps running test after test with no results.

I have arthritis in my neck for about 3 years now but this last year my right shoulderblade burns something awful and is inflamed a lot. Then it started going down my arm and my elbow is super sensitive and then there is the burning-freezing-tingling-swelling of my right hand.

If I grab my wrist and I guess cut off the blood supply it helps but I cant hold it 24 hours a day. The doctor has ran a MRI, X-rays, Nerve Conduction test and nothing. He sent me to an orthopedic who tried cortisone shot and it did not help then he suggested PT, still nothing.

After I went to acupuncturist which helped a little. I have went for several deep tissue massages and they say my shoulder is in knots and cannot work it out. Then I went to a chiropractor and he said I had an uneven pelvic bone and his adjustments helped for about a day and half then came right back. Now I am scheduled to see a neurosurgeon and he wants to start running all these test again....HELP.

I am at my wits end. I use cold compresses daily and starting to believe that I will never find out what is wrong.

Hello Diane,
I can understand your frustration. The key factor is the swelling in your right hand; that suggests that this is almost certainly not a pinched nerve type condition. This is far more likely to be vascular in nature. Is there any change in the colour of your fingers when you have an attack? Do they particularly go white, and then red? Which fingers are affected? If so, ask your doctor if Reynaud's syndrome has been considered.

That doesn't mean to say you can't also have a problem neck, AND a nerve condition. In fact the pain in the shoulderblade is very typical of a lower neck dorsal scapula nerve condition, but it could also be in your shoulder or midback-rib subluxation.

Ask too if Adson's test has been done.

Did you chiropractor only deal with the pelvis, or did he also adjust your neck, midback and hand? Did you have a course of treatment, or just a couple?

Let me know and we can take this further.

Dr B

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Nov 27, 2015
tingling, burning, numbness in hand and fingers.
by: Anonymous

Diane, I found your problem being the same with me. I am seeing a chiropractor 2x a week for about 6 months now. It has helped me with my neck injuries, but the hands, fingers and far arm pain, tingling and burning, swelling, etc. have not been easy to relieve. I started searching on TOS and am going to bring this up with my doctor as I am 95% sure that this is my problem. Soooo, I have found your conversation very helpful for me and suggest you try massage to alleviate the symptoms in your extremities. Thank you and Dr. B for pointing me in this direction. Hope you will find some relief soon. Nancy K.

Thanks for your comment, Nancy.

If there's swelling in the arm one must always look further; pinched nerves won't do that.

TOS is a possibility. It's diagnosed with Adson's test.

Dr b

Jun 05, 2015
tingling burning freezing hands
by: Diane

Well, I went and had the epidural and all my pain was gone for almost 48 hours; then it all came back. I then went to a Neurosurgeon and he thought "carpal tunnel" so after I showed him all my test results from MRI/Nerve Conduction he said that he wanted another one.

So $2000.00 later since no insurance and the surgeon says that it is a rotary cuff tendinopathy and that I should see a orthopedic.

I can't imagine this would make my hand burn, freeze and shooting pains from my elbow all the way to my wrist. In the last year I have gained excessive weight only in my chest area. I have tried every way in the world to lose it. I am 5'4 and weigh 140, but my bra size went from 34C to a 36D.

Strange question, could this cause my posture to change and especially the way I hold my shoulders because I am so self conscious about it that would make my entire arm hurt. I am self diagnosing here just wanting a little relief. It has been almost a year and no one seems to know what is really wrong.

Thank you so much for your time and attention to this. You have to be a caring doctor to try to help all that you do.

Hello Diane,
Perhaps it's time to get out of the neuro and orthopedic worlds and see a general physician specialist. This is certainly not typical of a rotary cuff tendinopathy and, because it's affecting all fingers, not typical of a nerve root impingement in the neck.

140 pounds, I presume, not kilograms, is not wildly excessive but the increase in your breast size does raise questions. Perhaps an endocrinologist and a dietician to look at your diet. Breast enlargement puts a lot of stress on the shoulders and neck and may well be a contributory factor.

Learn about the meaning of glycemic index. It's all about those foods that cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, which is then stored as fat.

Keep thinking, talking to folk, scouring the internet because to date, it would appear to me, the experts have missed the boat. And I'm just as uncertain.

Have you seen an experienced, thorough chiropractor? That's always an option.

Keep in touch.

Dr B

May 15, 2015
Tingling/Burning/Freezing Hands
by: Diane

Dr. B.
The results of my MRI has came back that I have a bulging disc c6-c7 and the doctor has requested that I go for an epidural shot. Do you think this will help? Could that be the reason I am having so much problems and keep getting worse instead of better?

Hello Diane,
You have to go with the clinician on the ground who has all the facts and has examined you. But that doesn't mean that you can't think, ask questions and talk to others.

A bulging disc and one level is most unlikely to affect your whole hand. The C6-c7 nerve root supplies primarily the middle finger.

And this hot/cold and swelling just sounds atypical to me.

What I would be looking for is changes in reflexes, skin sensitivity, muscle weakness, a positive upper limb tension test, compression tests, Adsons and Spurling's sign.

Then one puts the whole together and makes a diagnosis. It's well documented that many normal people with no pain at all have bulging discs; it's known as an incidental finding, and not what is causing your pain.

I'm being the Devil's advocate here, and if you repeat all this to the specialist he's likely to be highly irritated, so be warned!

You must follow your own gut feel. You can always ask for a second opinion, discuss it with your GP, for example.

I'm afraid I really don't know what the problem is, but I have a feeling that bulging disc is not what's causing your problem.

Let me know please what transpires.

Dr B

May 04, 2015
tinglinh/burning/freesing hands
by: Doris

I have a really dumb question? I am embarrassed to ask my doctor.
I have gained a lot of weight in my breast going from a 34C to a 38D. Could this cause symptoms of TOS?

Hello Doris,
It is possible because it puts a huge strain on your neck and shoulders. And increases the risk of breast cancer.

Whatever, get those pounds off; you don't need them, there are enough troubles in this life, without adding all the risks associated with significant weight gain.

Read up on the meaning of glycemic index, or GI. Avoiding high GI foods is by far the easiest way to lose weight.

The classic sign of TOS is tingling in the pinkie and ring finger when you raise your hands above your head for a period, as in hanging the washing. It can affect the other fingers too, just less commonly. The simple examination is called Adson's test.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B

May 04, 2015
To Dr. B
by: Diane

Dr. B...Thank you for taking the time for me.

No color changes in my hand. It's just cold/hot (like when you are outside too long and it goes numb and then run hot water over it). therefore I cannot tell which fingers it affects because my whole hand hurts.

As to the Adson test they have not ran that one yet. I will ask though.

The chiro adjusted my neck, back and my arm. Then he did some kind of machine that popped really loud around my neck for the circulation stating that would help the cold, which it did...for about a day. I went to the chiro for a month twice a week then started thinking it must be something else.

I just went back to my family doctor this morning and begged to do something and he wants to run another MRI stating he thinks that it has to do with my neck and if not the next thing would be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Hello Diane,
If you raise your hands above your head as in hanging the washing, does it bring on the symptoms? If you're in the middle of an attack, and you raise your arms, does it have any effect? Lessen or increase the burning?

Adson's test can be done in about two minutes, but unless one has done it many times, it's difficult to be conclusive. Find the test by using the search function at Chiropractic Help. you can even try it yourself, but it's not easy. Find a strong radial pulse in the wrist with the other hand. Then turn your head to the same side, look up and take in a deep breath. Does it affect the pulse?

My gut feeling is that this is not TOS, nor a pinched nerve in the neck, because it affects the whole hand. There are a lot of medical conditions like causalgia that affect the circulation to the hand. It's going to take an experienced clinician to figure it out. If you squeeze your fingers during an attack, are they very tender?

On the other hand, if the chiropractic treatment definitely affected the pain, albeit for a short time, it would suggest that is where the problem lies.

I'm sorry not to be more helpful. Keep looking. And let me know please when you have a diagnosis. My curiosity is aroused! Doesn't help you, but perhaps you can help me to help others.

Dr B

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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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