upper right back pain with numbness and pain down to the pinkie

Relief, or worse?

Relief, or worse?

I have very severe upper back pain; way over 10 and way past many doses of ibuprofens/naproxen, heat/cold and tiger balms over the last week; in the middle and to the right.

It radiates down to my right arm and there is numbness and pain on the outer side of my arm to my little finger. It hurts to raise my arm but not so much while keeping my arm perpendicular to my body but not outstretched works to relieve. I cannot tilt my neck back without excruciating pain.

If I lean back on my chair, I need to be stiff and use my lower back muscles entirely or I will suffer. The pain is excruciating in the evening and night.
I just went to see a nurse urgently. I cried when trying to log roll down on my left side and lie down for her to examine; so she could not examine me lying down. I wake up several times at night if I even roll over a bit towards the middle or my right. So not very good sleep either. I also have nausea and am eating poorly but the nurse thinks it might be the level of pain. I dread evenings and sleeping, even if it's on a chair now because lying down is a painful procedure.

She prescribed a muscle relaxant to take at night because it's obvious that I am not sleeping well. She did not do x rays because she thinks its connected to a prior diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis that I have in both my hands and for which I take plaquenil and feels ok/no pain unless I use my thumbs but it's bearable. She had me bend over and that I can do, so no broken bones.

I am generally an active person, do martial arts regularly for many years and stretch to feel good. I am 42 yrs old female. Last week when the pain started suddenly in the night, I had not been active for a week due to work, so not an injury. Thank you for any advice. I am very afraid also because I have never had back ache or so much pain, something I am checked for a lot because of the hand issue.

The two big features here are pain on extending your neck and the tingling and pain radiating to the C8 dermatome.

Here are two particular tests I'd like you to do.

1. Look up, already painful, then rotate your head and neck to the right side. What EXACTLY do you feel. Do it gently.

2. Using the search function in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help, type in upper limb tension test. Let me know what the result is.

This is one of the most painful and difficult conditions faced by any doctor. Don't feel you are being a baby; it's extremely sore.

Have you had any old injuries to your neck?

When the pain is bad, raise your arm above your head. Do you get relief, or is it worse?

Let me know.

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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