Numbness & Tingling in your arms – Do you know about this common condition?

Do you get numbness and tingling in your shoulders, your arms or your hands? Or do you know someone who does?

You may not know that this can be caused by something called cervical radiculopathy. Cervical radiculopathy is an umbrella term for pain, numbness, tingling or irritation of the nerves that come out from the neck. 

First lets start with a mini anatomy lesson: 

In the neck, there are actually seven vertebrae, which allow for freedom of movement of the neck and support the head on your body.  Your spinal cord runs down from your brain and then become nerve roots, which exit out of the side of the vertebrae. Each of the nerve roots becomes a nerve, which will go to all of the organs, muscles and glands throughout your body. 

When cervical radiculopathy is occuring, the nerves that travel from the cervical spine (neck) travel down into your shoulder, to your arm, into your hand and down to the fingertips are getting compressed. 

There are a number of different factors that can cause compression to those nerve roots:

  1. Tight scalene muscles or neck muscles surrounding some of these nerves. 
  2. Misaligned facet or vertebral joint in the neck. 
  3. Disc herniation or disc protrusion posterior (back) and laterally (side) causing increased pressure, inflammation and irritation. 
  4. Bone spurring at the joint or arthritis (degenerative joint disease). 

Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy will show up in many different ways depending on the individual. Some will feel irritation or pain in their neck, tingling into their shoulder or hand, overall arm weakness or NO symptoms at all. More often than not, this was a silent underlying problem long before any symptoms were felt. 

Regarding symptomatology, it will differ depending on the location of the irritation and which nerve is affected. For example, a problem at C6 (6th spinal vertebrae) can affect your shoulder, biceps, wrist, thumb or your index finger. If there’s compression at C7, that can affect the triceps or your middle finger. If there’s compression at C8 that can affect your ring and pinky finger, the inside of the forearm and cause an inability to grasp. 

Remember, if you have neck pain, arm pain, numbness and tingling, it could be caused by a cervical radiculopathy or pressure on the nerves as they exit out of the neck.  

If you or someone you know are suffering with any of these symptoms, best thing to do is have it checked and examined by a qualified Chiropractor to determine the location and severity of the nerve pressure. X-rays or other advanced imaging would likely be important in your case to see the structural integrity of your spine. If you need help finding a Chiropractor or just have some questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Dr. Thom