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Pins and needles are those funny feelings which I think we can all relate to having had at one time or another. You wake up and your hand has gone numb. You get a warm prickly feeling in your fingers as the feeling in the fingers slowly comes back alive.
This funny feeling can either be funny or it may make you feel concerned about what is happening to you.
Many people have experienced tingling or numbness in their hands, arms, legs and feet. “Pins and Needles” or “Going to Sleep” are two of the common phrases associated with this symptom. These symptoms can occur while sleeping, sitting for prolonged periods or during periods where you might have to hold your arm over your head for long periods (like changing a lightbulb, or styling your hair). When someone has frequent tingling or numbness in the hands they’ll often diagnose themselves (or a careless doctor may diagnose them) with carpal tunnel syndrome. Frequently this diagnosis is incorrect, and the causes for numbness and tingling are numerous.
There are numerous places in the body your nerves can become restricted before reaching the wrist/hand/fingers or ankle/foot/toes. One common misunderstanding of Chiropractic care is assuming it is all about the spine. Chiropractors are really treating the nervous system – the core of this system being the spine. But by properly examining your symptoms, and by conducting a full exam of the causes, a Chiropractor can more accurately determine where in your nervous system a blockage is occurring – whether in the spine, or along the ribs, upper arm, elbow or wrist or hip, leg, knee or ankle.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
The cause of pins and needles in the arms lays often in the shoulder girdle. If the space in this area is diminished it often puts pressure on the large nerve (brachialis). This is known as the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. This gives the typical tingling in the hands, often on both sides (especially at night). Problem of this condition is that it often is not recognized or incorrectly diagnosed. The cause is sought in the neck and therefore treatment fails.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The main, the most (in)famous and tedious nerve impingement IN the arm is the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. With this condition the nerve (median nerve) in the wrist is pinched because there is not enough space under a ligament which runs over the wrist. This gives a tingling or painful feeling in particular thumb, index and middle finger or even loss of strength in the hand. If the impingement is caused by a mal position of the wrist bones or an irritation in the wrist, chiropractic manipulation and specific techniques can create space for the nerve, with stunning results. Often a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is given while an impingement in the neck / shoulder is causing the symptoms.
Double crush syndrome is not uncommonly seen in clinical practice. It was first described by Upton and McComas and published in Lancet in 1973. They found in 81/115 cases of carpal tunnel syndrome that there were associated neural lesions in the neck as well.
Proper diagnosis requires precise and extensive examination of the problem. In some cases, surgery is necessary, but often too soon with the wrong diagnosis and too often with bad results. If you’re experiencing tingling, a chiropractor is your best bet to examine the entire length of the affected limb and determine exactly the cause of your symptoms.
A Chiropractor’s job is to find the source of nerve irritation and apply the appropriate method to relieve the pressure. This will restore your nerve flow and reduce your symptoms, and will eventually heal the irritation which was causing the symptoms.