Understanding Extremity Numbness, Tingling & Pain
Extremity numbness, tingling, or pain is often indicative of a nerve problem that must be examined by a qualified healthcare practitioner. The underlying cause of these symptoms (which can manifest in your arms, legs, hands, or feet) may be prolonged pressure on one or more nerves—a temporary problem that often quickly self-resolves. In other cases, especially when symptoms linger, numbness, tingling or pain in your extremities may signal the presence of a more systemic health problem that requires proper (and prompt) attention from a healthcare professional.
Possible causes of nerve injury and extremity symptoms may include any of the following: diabetes, alcoholism, nutritional deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B12), infection, and serious injury. Damage to the nerves outside your spine is known as peripheral neuropathy, and it is a common health problem among Americans. Musculoskeletal problems can cause extremity numbness, tingling, and pain, too. In fact, problems such as spinal disc herniations, nerve impingement syndromes, and degenerative changes in the spine are among the most common causes of extremity symptoms. Dr. Mike Sorensen (chiropractor Redmond Oregon) can evaluate your extremity problems and suggest effective treatment approaches based on your unique health circumstances.
Common Causes of Numbness and Tingling
This section explores the most common causes of extremity numbness, tingling, and pain seen and treated in Dr. Sorensen’s chiropractic clinic:
- Spinal Disc Herniations: A rupture of your spinal disc can lead to extremity symptoms when a portion of the damaged disc protrudes into the intervertebral foramen (the opening through which your spinal nerve roots—offshoots of your spinal cord—exit your spinal column) and puts pressure on one of your nerve roots. Some of the most common factors that may contribute to spinal disc herniations include lifting heavy objects with poor form, twisting your torso while lifting, and performing certain repetitive movements.
- Nerve Impingement Syndrome: A nerve impingement syndrome occurs when the nerves that run through your arms and legs become compressed or irritated as they travel through tight spaces (often near major joints, such as the shoulder and elbow). Indeed, the shoulder and elbow are common locations for nerve impingement, but so too are the collar bone, wrist, and ankle. Trigger points—tight balls or bands of muscle tissue that are tender when pressed—may also cause nerve impingement and the resulting symptoms.
- Spinal Degeneration: Degenerative changes throughout the spine may also lead to extremity numbness, tingling, and pain. The openings through which spinal nerve roots exit the spine are a common location of degeneration and a place where bone spurs (also known as osteophytes) can form. Bone spurs can affect nerve roots in the same way that disc herniations do; that is, by compressing or irritating the nerve root and impairing its function.
- Diabetes: Diabetes is a health problem that involves prolonged elevated blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can, over time, cause nerve damage. Most diabetics who suffer nerve damage first notice tingling and other symptoms in the feet, and then later in the hands and arms. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of diabetics suffer mild to severe nerve damage, and a large number of adults with undiagnosed diabetes exhibit signs of extremity nerve damage.
How Can Chiropractic Help?
Chiropractic care is an effective way to address extremity symptoms, especially numbness, tingling, and pain caused by a musculoskeletal problem. Dr. Mike Sorensen, a leading Redmond Oregon chiropractor, may use any of the following therapies to treat the underlying cause of your extremity numbness, tingling, and pain:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Soft tissue work
- Trigger point therapy
- Home care activities (including stretching, strengthening, and postural exercises)
If your extremity symptoms are caused by a whole body problem (e.g., diabetes), Dr. Sorensen will counsel you on healthy lifestyle habits to minimize further nerve damage. He will also provide you with helpful community resources to assist your healing.