Have you ever experienced numbness in either hand while performing your normal activities of daily living? Many people who develop hand, finger or arm numbness believe that it is normal for them and they’ll just have to accept such symptoms. Fortunately, there is a solution to minimize and possibly even eliminate most causes of hand and arm numbness. Your hand symptoms may be related to a condition in one of several locations in your upper extremity or your cervical spine (neck spine). There are actually more than 10 different possible sites of nerve entrapment in the arm and hand that may lead to numbness, tingling or burning symptoms into the upper extremity.
Nerve Impingement at the Wrist:
A common site of nerve entrapment is at the wrist. There are three major nerves that control the hand and they must pass through a narrow, constricted area in order to supply function to the hand. They are known as the median, ulnar and radial nerves. The median nerve is the one that is involved in a common condition you have certainly heard of before – carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition produces numbness into the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring finger. The ulnar nerve however, when compressed at the wrist will produce numbness into the pinky and half of the ring finger. This nerve may become compressed from external pressures such as on cyclists as they grasp the handle bars during a long bike ride.
The radial nerve may also become impinged at the wrist, which will produce numbness or pain at the back of the thumb and hand. Sometimes individuals with this condition find it difficult to wear a wrist watch. Golfers may be at risk of developing this condition due to improper biomechanics and cocking the wrist while swinging their club.
Nerve impingement at the Elbow:
The elbow is another possible site for nerve entrapment. When patients develop numbness related to an elbow condition it can often be related to an activity they commonly do during their normal daily routine. . Talking on the phone for extended periods of time may create a stretching force on the ulnar nerve near the elbow. This can produce numbness sensations into the pinky, ring finger and back of the hand. Sustained flexion of the elbow while holding the phone to your ear is the proposed cause of this type of nerve injury. Using hand tools that require repetitive rotation of the forearm and hand can also cause great stress to the elbow joint and connecting muscles and fascia. This may lead to compression of either the median or radial nerve at the region of the elbow.
Nerve Impingement at the Shoulder:
As the spinal nerves pass from the neck into the upper extremity they begin to merge together and form the individual main nerve trunks into the arm. There is an area that exists between the neck and shoulder known as the thoracic outlet. There are multiple overlapping muscles and interconnecting structures in the thoracic outlet creating several tiny compartments for these spinal nerves to pass through. Patients may develop a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome, which causes numbness and tingling sensations into the arm and hand. These individuals often find it difficult to work overhead or may even develop hand symptoms while doing things such as driving a vehicle or styling their hair.
The Solution to Arm and Hand Numbness:
We take great interest here at our chiropractic clinic in providing care to patients who suffer from a myriad of upper extremity conditions involving the hand, elbow and/or shoulder. Of course we will almost always adjust the cervical spine, and we will also adjust the shoulder, elbow and/or wrist as necessary to relieve nerve impingement and interference. All of the above mentioned nerve entrapment conditions respond remarkably well to specific chiropractic adjusting procedures to the neck, shoulder, elbow and hand. If you know of someone who suffers with arm or hand numbness, tingling, burning sensations or pain, we encourage you to tell them about us and we thank you for referring them for a chiropractic evaluation.