When strange symptoms strike, it’s only natural to want to get to the bottom of the sensations that are throwing you off balance. This is precisely how people feel when they experience pain, tingling, and numbness in their arms and hands. In many cases, strange sensations that run up and down the arms and hands are often connected to underlying dysfunctions or injuries in other parts of the body. The upper back is one of the most common culprits. If you’re trying to diagnose pain, numbness, and tingling in your arms and hands, it’s important to look at your symptoms from a whole-body perspective to get to the root of the issue. A chiropractor can help you do just that! Before you make an appointment, take a look at some likely causes behind your symptoms.

When Arm and Hand Pain Begin in Your Back

Why is an injury in your upper back so closely connected with tingling or pain in the extremities? The simple answer is that the central nervous system is like a “nerve” superhighway that sends signals along interconnected roots. One of the most common causes of pain and tingling in the arms and hands is something called a herniated cervical disc. If a nerve root in your neck or upper back becomes inflamed, the nerve signals will travel down the shoulder to reach the arm and hand.

Another common cause of arm and hand pain is something called foraminal stenosis. This is a fancy way of describing a nerve impingement that occurs at a nerve root in the spinal canal. A telltale sign of foraminal stenosis is a weakness that cascades down the shoulders to reach the arms, hands, and fingers.

Back issues that cause pain, tingling, and weakness in the arms and hands can stem from many causes. In some cases, this is a “compression” injury caused by pressure and misalignment within your upper back. In other cases, you may have a blockage or misalignment in the spine that was caused by a fall or collision.

What If the Pain Isn’t Originating in Your Back?

While issues with the arms and hands often have origins in the upper back, this isn’t a forgone conclusion. It’s important to look at every possibility when diagnosing the problem. A pinched nerve is a common cause of arm and hand tingling. Pinched nerves can occur anywhere that a misalignment in bone or soft tissue structures can occur. This includes:

  • Spinal tissue
  • Shoulder bone
  • Elbow bone
  • Muscles

It’s important to locate the nerve that is being pinched when coming up with a plan for addressing your symptoms. If you use your arms and hands repetitively for things like sports, household chores, or work duties, there may be an obvious answer. Common conditions like tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can both produce pain, tingling and numbness that will radiate up and down the arm to reach your extremities. In fact, these conditions can impact everything from range of motion to grip. Take a look at the telltale signs of several conditions that are linked with arm and hand pain.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow occurs when tendons in the elbow become overloaded from strain and usage. While this injury is common among tennis players, anyone who carries out repetitive motions using their arms and wrists is at risk. That includes people who sort items, lift items, assemble items or handle equipment. Tennis elbow is especially common among painters, plumbers, butchers, and gardeners. Even navigating a computer mouse every day can put a person at risk for tennis elbow. Pain from tennis elbow tends to show up right at the bony joint at the outside of your elbow. However, this condition is famous for causing radiating pain and loss of mobility throughout the forearm and wrist. The weakness and loss of function can be so severe that some people are unable to grip cups or turn doorknobs.

Golfer’s Elbow

Like tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow occurs when the elbow becomes overloaded from strain and usage. In addition to impacting golfers, this condition is common among anyone who uses their arms and hands to carry out repetitive motions. Unlike tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow creates pain on the inside portion of the elbow instead of the outside. However, the pain often radiates throughout the forearm and wrist in a way that’s similar to what’s experienced with tennis elbow.

Muscle Knots

Muscle knots are also notorious for creating pain and numbness that radiate down to the hands and fingers. Muscle knots are becoming more common as people adopt sedentary lifestyles because the rigidity and loss of flexibility that is commonly caused by sitting for long periods of time increase the risk of developing knotted, tight muscles. Repetitive motions that include typing at a keyboard can also induce muscle knots. Additionally, intense exercise can also cause muscle knots in overused muscles. In the chiropractic world, a muscle knot is referred to as a trigger point. Treatments like trigger-point therapy and massage can help to release the knot to restore function to hands and arms. During trigger-point therapy, specific techniques are used to stretch and release the muscle to allow it to “loosen.”

Getting to the Bottom of Arm and Hand Tingling

Experiencing numbness and tingling in your extremities can be worrisome. The good news is that many of the underlying causes of odd sensations and dysfunction in the extremities can be easily reversed using manual adjustments to remove subluxations, repair herniated discs, correct pinched nerves or relax trigger points in your muscles. However, it’s essential to rule out any serious underlying causes of tingling and pain that are not related to musculoskeletal tissue. When you visit a chiropractor, we’re focused on ruling out the following underlying causes:

Any drooping or loss of function that accompanies tingling and pain in your extremities could indicate that you’re having a stroke. This is why it’s so important to seek immediate medical care from a doctor if your symptoms match stroke symptoms. If your pain and tingling are not connected to a medical emergency, a chiropractor can use a variety of imaging techniques and reflex tests to determine what’s behind the tingling and pain throughout your extremities.

How Do Chiropractors Treat Tingling and Numbness in the Arms and Hands?

There are several different approaches to treating tingling and numbness in the extremities. The first step is to figure out where the pressure or blockage is originating from in your body. If the root cause is a subluxation in your upper back, manual stimulation can be applied to reverse the blockage to restore proper function to the spinal column. If the cause is a herniated disc, the disc can be manually moved back into place to stop the inflammation. If the issue is a pinched nerve or knotted muscle, manual techniques can also be applied to eliminate the pressure that is causing the sensations of pain, tingling, and dullness to radiate into the arms and hands. Chiropractors can also provide treatments that incorporate everything from therapeutic massage to injury-preventing stretching. Advanced techniques for speeding up tissue healing and cellular regeneration at the site of an injury can also help some patients to enjoy restored function in their arms and hands faster.

Lastly, chiropractors look at lifestyle factors when helping patients to avoid future injuries. If your current symptoms are linked with things like overuse or poor posture, you can learn ways to avoid creating unnecessary strain. In many cases, simply learning best practices for sitting behind a computer desk can help people to avoid future injuries once a subluxation or misaligned disc is corrected.

DE Integrative is here to help you if you’re experiencing numbness, tingling, and pain in your arms and hands. We’ll work with you to identify the origins of the nerve signals that are creating these unsettling sensations. Give us a call today to book an appointment.