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Posted on 02-25-2014

I recently had a conversation with an out-of-state friend who related the following:  "I was thinking about calling you a couple months ago.  I had this horrible pain down my left arm and then I started to feel pain and a tingling sensation in my elbow.  When my fingers started to feel tingly and kind of numb I was convinced I must be having a heart attack.  I went  to the emergency room and was relieved to find out it wasn't a heart attack but they had no idea what it could be.  I went to see a neurologist, an orthopedist, and internist, etc.  They did all these different tests; blood tests, MRI's, CAT scans, etc.  I spent tons of time and money and no one could figure out the problem.  They gave me pain killers and muscle relaxants but nothing worked.  I wasn't able to sleep.  It was awful.  Finally I went to a local chiropractor.  Do you know what it was?  I had a "pinched" nerve in my neck.  After doing some traction and a few adjustments the pain, tingling, and numbness were gone!" Her last comment..."I should have called you right away!!  It would have saved me a lot in pain & suffering, time, and money!"

It's common for us to leap to the worst case scenario when we have unexplained pain.  And I cannot stress enough  that if you ever even suspect you may be  having a heart attack, go to the emergency room IMMEDIATELY or call 911.  If it is a heart attack, minutes count.

The question then is, why would you go to a Chiropractor if you have tingling and/or numbness in your elbow or fingers, or if you have a pain running down your arm?  The answer is because more often than not that pain, tingling, or numbness is caused by a nerve that is being irritated or pressed on in some way.  This is often referred to as a "pinched" nerve.  While a true pinched nerve, or compression lesion, is rare (causing only between 10-15% of spine related problems), the term "pinched" nerve is commonly  used because it is a descriptive way of explaining what occurs.

An easy way to picture what is happening is to think of your nerves as being like microscopic garden hoses.  Messages between your brain and all parts of your body run smoothly through this "hose".  Just as the flow of water slows or stops if you "pinch" a garden hose, so does the flow of information to and from your brain slow or stop.  This results in pain, tingling, and/or numbness.

One of the most  common areas for nerves to get "pinched" is the neck. Another common site is in the carpal tunnel.  This is an area in the wrist that all finger flexor tendons and the median nerve pass through.  The brain cannot distinguish between the beginning, middle, or end of the nerve.  It only registers that it is not receiving a signal from the hand, therefore the hand is where the tingly or numbness are found.

"Pinched" nerves can be caused by a herniated disc, bone spurs, or joint disease, but are most usually caused by nerve tissues irritated by the rubbing, stretching, or scraping of spinal joints (vertebra) that are out of place or alignment.  The initial irritation can be caused by such things as falls, car accidents, improper lifting, poor posture, sports injuries, sitting too long, repetitive work, sudden or violent movement, chemical exposure, emotional stress, or lack of exercise.  In the case of Carpal Tunnel the nerves usually get irritated because of a repetitive motion that causes the nerve to be rubbed over and over again in the same place.

By adjusting or returning the vertebrae in the neck to their proper position, chiropractic can relieve the pressure that is irritating the nerve.  Chiropractic manipulation of the wrist, elbow, and sometimes the upper back can relieve the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Several studies have shown chiropractic is just as effective as conventional medicine in the treatment of Carpal Tunnel without the need for injections or surgery.

Typically if the "pinched" nerve is in the neck the pain/tingling/numbness will be felt on the outside of the hand.  With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome the index and middle fingers, and sometimes the thumb are affected.

If you, or someone you know, experiences pain, tingling, or numbness is your arm, elbow, hand, fingers, etc., try Chiropractic first.  You could save thousands of dollars, hours of time, and the agony of uncertainty!

Call our office for a Chiropractic evaluation if you or anyone you know is experiencing ongoing arm, elbow,hand, or finger pain, tingling and/or numbness.

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