Many people suffer tingling or numbness in their arms, legs, hands, and feet, which is often described as “pins and needles,” or thought of in terms of our extremities “going to sleep.” In fact, tingling and numbness in the limbs is the most common complaint—after back and neck pain—that I hear in my office.
These symptoms can be caused by something as simple as an incorrect sleep posture, sitting with your legs crossed, or by holding your arms above your head for prolonged periods of time. However, when it occurs frequently or for a long time, it can be indicative of a bigger problem. This type of tingling is primarily a sign of nerve irritation or damage that might originate in the spinal cord or brain stem, although it usually comes from pinched nerves in the neck or upper rib vertebra in cases of arm tingling, or compression in those of the lower back when symptoms present in the legs and feet. It is not always accompanied by neck or back pain however, so it doesn’t always occur to my patients that a chiropractic adjustment might be the cure for what ails them.
Furthermore, in cases of hand and finger numbness, patients often erroneously assume they have carpal tunnel syndrome. The mistake here is assuming the problem originates in the wrist, thereby ignoring any blockages that may be occurring further “upstream.” One way to determine if carpal tunnel is to blame is to make note whether you’re symptomatic in the pinky finger (1); carpal tunnel doesn’t present in the pinky, so if you have sensation in that finger, something else is at fault.
To better understand how a visit to your Chiropractor can help you find the underlying cause of your numbness and tingling, it helps to envision the entire circulatory and nervous system. When you look at the anatomy of our arms and legs, you can see that the nerves and blood vessels in our extremities travel quite a long distance from their point of origin. For example, the nerves in your arm originate in your neck and end in your fingers. If you think of these nerve pathways as a river, your neck would be the reservoir. In a healthy body, this river flows smoothly from the reservoir to all the surrounding areas. But anytime nerve impingement occurs—think of a tree falling across the river and blocking its flow—the nerve signals and blood flow received by your extremities is restricted, causing numbness and that familiar feeling of pins and needles.
It is commonly believed that Chiropractic medicine deals solely with the spine, when in fact it deals with the entire nervous system. There are numerous places in the body where the flow of the “river” can become impeded, and a Chiropractor can find where that blockage is occurring. If you’re experiencing tingling or numbness in your extremities, make an appointment today for a consultation. I’ll examine the limb thoroughly in order to determine the cause of your symptoms and ensure that there are no irregularities “further upstream.”