Patients who present with neck pain along with arm numbness, pain, tingling or weakness, often ask, “What is causing this pain down my arm?”
The condition is often caused from a bulging or herniated disk pinching a nerve in the neck. The cause of this complaint can include both trauma as well as non-traumatic events. In fact, sometimes, the patient has no idea what started their condition, as they cannot tie any specific event to the onset.
The classic presentation includes neck pain that radiates into the arm in a specific area as each nerve affects different parts of the arm and hand. Describing the exact location of the arm complaint such as, “I have numbness in the arm and hand that makes my ring finger and pinky finger feel half asleep,” tells us that you have a pinched C8 nerve.
This same nerve can also be pinched at the elbow and make the same two fingers numb. The difference between the two conditions is when the nerve is pinched in the neck, the pain is located from the neck down the entire arm and into the hand. When the nerve is pinched at the elbow, the pain/numbness is located from the elbow down to the hand, but no neck or upper arm pain exists.
Examination findings usually include limitations in certain neck ranges of motion – usually in the direction that increases the pinch on the nerve. To determine where the nerve is pinched, there are a number of different compression tests that can recreate or increase the symptoms.
We also do neurologic tests that include testing reflexes and muscle strength in the arm. When a nerve is pinched, the reflexes will be sluggish or absent and certain movements in the arm are weak when compared to the opposite side.
At Desired Health Chiropractic, we do an extensive examination to determine exactly where the nerve is pinched and irritated. Our goal is to help you wake up ready to tackle your day. Call us today to see how we can help you feel better, function better, and ultimately perform better!