Hand Numbness & Arm pain
Hand numbness and arm pain, tingling or weakness can prevent normal functions of daily life. Learn more about how the arms, hands and fingers can be affected and the solutions for these problems.
what are arm pain and hand numbness?
Arm pain or hand numbness are not a medical conditions themselves, but rather a symptom of another problem (in the same way a fever is a symptom of a problem, such as infection).
why does it happen – arm pain & hand numbness?
Due to the location of the symptoms, many physicians assume the problem starts locally, such as in the surrounding muscles or other parts of the arm. This lead to treatments and procedures to treat those local structures, such as carpal tunnel surgery or shoulder surgery. In some cases pain medications or nerve blocks were used to inhibit the painful pathways. These procedures can offer short-term relief, but will not help long-term without addressing the cause.
Arm pain & Hand numbness causes?
What about hand tremors?
Hand tremors are unintentional movement of the hands. This presents as hand shaking or hand trembling. Tremors are usually caused by problems with areas of the brain that control movements, particularly at the brainstem, located in the upper neck.
This may be as action tremors or resting tremors. They may start less obvious and worsen over time. This may lead to a difficulty in lifting items, carrying, hobbies, work and activities with their children. Tremors can accompany arm pain and numbness, especially when left untreated.
Current treatment includes medication but doesn’t get to the underlying cause of hand tremors.
Numbness in fingers & Tingling sensation?
The nerves from the neck supply all parts off the shoulder, arm and hands. They then pass down to the fingers, with different fingers indicating different parts of the arm or neck which may be injured. Think of the nerves like train tracks, but instead of trains running along the tracks, it is information going from the brain (controlling the limb, such as movements or to heal injuries) or to the brain (reporting changes and sensations in the arm, such as feelings or pain).
If these pathways are broken down, it is not just arm pain or hand numbness that occurs. It can also be numbness in the fingers or a tingling sensation in the fingers. This numbness or tingling in the fingers (as well as pain or weakness), may not affect all the fingers but only certain ones, such as the thumb or the small pinky finger.
This numbness in the fingers can result in clumsy movements and increased incidence of accidents. A tingling sensation in the fingers can become annoying and make it difficult to perform normal tasks. Both a tingling sensation or numbness in the fingers can be a sign of a problem in the neck, especially if there has been no trauma or injury in the rest of the arm. This may start from poor postures or old traumas to the neck.
Triggers for Arm Pain & hand numbness
For many cases of hand pain or arm numbness there is a physical trigger. This could be a fall, whiplash, injury, car accident or other insult to the neck, head, arm or hand. This damages the nerves (especially in the upper neck) making them more susceptible to producing symptoms, including those in the upper limb. Once there has been this injury, there can be triggers, such as:
Stress –numbness, weakness, tingling and pain in the arm or hand can follow times of higher stress. In these instances the brain works hard on the stressful event and arm symptoms can result.
Specific head movements – moving the head in certain ways can pinch the nerve in the neck which control the arm and hand, triggering an attack. This can also happen after injuries to the neck or head.
Medications – while these may not cause arm symptoms, they may trigger the pre-existing problem.
Exercise & Exertion – whether the nerve is being pinched or a muscle has been damaged, exercise can worsen the problem by incurring more damage onto the already injured nerves.
Hand numbness and arm pain diagnosis?
For most patients with arm symptoms, the first visit is to the GP and then a possible referral to a physiotherapist or possibly an orthopaedic surgeon.
Tests may include CT scans, MRI’s and nerve conduction studies. The doctor or physiotherapist will first exclude serious problems. If nothing is found the treatment options are fairly limited, with the only option being exercises, stretches or possibly surgery depending on the cause.
This may offer some temporary relief but wont correct the cause, particularly if it is due to a pinched nerve in the neck.
Once serious diseases have been ruled out, there should be a thorough assessment of the upper neck, where the brain-stem and cranial nerve centres are located (the nerves which pass into the arm and hand).
For pinched nerves, the focus must be on the brain stem and nerve system to fix the problem and give a long term solution.
Current Arm Pain and Hand nubness treatment
Where the armpain and hand numbness are chronic (long term) the treatment must assess and treat any underlying problems in the nerve system.
Arm pain exercises
How can chiropractic help Arm pain & hand numbness?
If the dizziness is worsened by the position of the head this is particularly indicative of an Upper Cervical Subluxation. Upper Cervical Chiropractic care is particularly effective at helping arm pain and hand numbness, as it specialises in the upper neck where the cranial nerve centres are located.
Chiropractic patients experience less pain, better strength and sensation, returning to normal activities, such as work and playing with their children.
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