Numbness in the arms, hands, legs, and feet

Numbness or Tingling? You need to read this.

If this statement about numbness sounds familiar to you, then it’s critical you read this!

“My hands have been numb for years now and I’ve just been living with it because I can still get by. However it’s getting worse and I’m concerned it may start really affecting my life if I don’t get this fixed”


What exactly do we mean by Numbness and Tingling?

Simply put, its commonly referred to as pins and needles, like when you sit cross legged with your foot tucked underneath you and when you go to stand up, and you can’t either feel your foot or the foot feels “prickly”. Or when you fall asleep and you use your arm as a pillow, and when you wake up that arm feels dead! or simply hitting that “funny bone” that’s not so funny. These described actions are part of life and the altered sensation usually goes away within a few minutes after you remove the compressive force on the affected body part.

However, if you experience these types of symptoms for extended periods of time WITHOUT A KNOWN CAUSE, then it may be something more serious. And if you’ve read this far into my blog, then I’m betting that’s you, or someone you care about is suffering with this affliction.

What Causes Numbness and Tingling?

There are a multitude of possibilities that can range from poor diet leading to a lack of certain vitamins, excessive smoking, alcohol abuse, and even certain medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, under active thyroid, diabetes, vascular diseases and even cancer. Although these are only some of the known causes, they do not represent the KNOWN cause for the VAST MAJORITY of numbness and tingling cases in our society.

Physical pressure on our nerves is unfortunately extremely common. For the purposes of this blog, the pressure on our nerves can occur within in our spinal column, or the central nervous system. And the other part of our nervous system, being the peripheral nervous system. The way I remember it is, the spine is in the center of our bodies, thus the CENTRAL nervous system, and anything from the moment that nerve exits the spinal column is considered the PERIPHERAL nervous system.

“Every single system, organ, tissue and cell in our body in under the direct influence of our nervous system” – Grays Anatomy (the text book!, not the TV show)

I included that reference about the importance of the nervous system so that you as the reader need to understand that you may be experiencing certain symptoms such as numbness in the fingers, or hands. Or perhaps you may be experiencing tingling feet, or a diminished sensation or numbness in the leg. As your brain is constantly getting feedback from your body and then it reacts to that information. If you have abnormal pressure on your nerves it can damage those nerves and this can lead to INTERFERENCE of that communication between the brain and body. This can lead to “false messages” and result in impaired muscle mobility, altered sensations, numbness, pain and even organ system dysfunction.

The causes of numbness and tingling can be related to chronic repetition of a particular activity or an injury from physical trauma. For example working daily at a computer or a repetitive work related task or a car accident resulting in whiplash from years ago or even a sports injury. These situations may result in pressure on your nerves from shifts or misalignments of your spine. These shifts or misalignments lead to increased wear and tear on the spine leading to spinal degeneration or arthritis, or even herniated discs. Those conditions will cause inflammation as well adding to further nerve irritation.

Am I the only one suffering with this?

To address the prevalence of numbness and tingling in our society is nearly impossible, unless you start matching specific symptoms. For example in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one study did attempt to determine the number of carpal tunnel syndrome suffers from a pool of people who were already experiencing numbness and tingling in the fingers. It was determined from nearly 25,000 participants that had symptoms of pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands, the researchers concluded… “Based on our data, 1 in 5 symptomatic subjects would be expected to have CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome) based on clinical examination and electrophysiologic testing.”

It’s estimated that chronic neuropathic pain affects 3% of the population – about 1 million Canadians. The prevalence is increasing as our population ages since some of the common causes of neuropathic pain occur most often in the elderly.

What forms of treatment are there?

There are medications being used such as antidepressant drugs like amitriptyline and duloxetine, but these drugs are not designed to treat neuropathic pain. Anti-seizure medications like pregabalin and gabapentin are being used to treat neuropathic pain but they also were not originally developed and designed and specifically tested to treat this painful problem, nor do they get to the root cause. When you dig deeper about some of these meds however, you find that they aren’t without risks. For example, one of the drugs of choice for treating the nerve pain is Gabapentin and yet look at the warnings…

Gabapentin Warning

You should know that gabapentin may increase the risk for suicide.

Suicidal thoughts or behaviour occurs in about one in 500 people taking medications like gabapentin. This risk may begin within a week of starting treatment.

Let your doctor know if you experience:

  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks

Lets step into the common sense corner for a minute….If there is pressure on your nerves, is taking a pill going to remove that pressure?

What about if we massage your muscles? Or zap it with electricity or ultrasound?

Do any of those actions change the alignment of your spinal column to simply remove the thing that’s causing the pressure on your spinal cord (and to the point) resulting in your numbness and tingling that you have been suffering with?

What we do that is different

Numerous studies have proven that Chiropractic treatments have proven effective in helping to remove the irritation on the nerves which substantially reduces pain by getting to the root cause. Patients showed an 85.5% resolution of the nerve symptoms after only 9 chiropractic treatments -(Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2008).

With Chiropractic care, patients had “significant improvement in perceived comfort and function, nerve conduction and finger sensation overall.” -(Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1998).

Objective measurements of patients who were suffering from numbness and tingling and then received Chiropractic care, demonstrated “ significant increase in grip strength and normalization of motor and sensory latencies were noted. Orthopedic tests were negative and symptoms dissipated”.( Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics-1994). Let me translate…no more pain, their strength AND their sense of feeling was back to normal.

I studied Athletic Therapy in my undergraduate, and then went on to study Chiropractic, what attracted me to the profession was the demonstrable and measurable changes corrective Chiropractic care makes. Nothing else out there has the pre and post xrays (an objective and measurable and sustainable difference) to demonstrate lasting change.

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