Friday, June 22, 2012

Numb Hands and Tingling Fingers

Many people have experienced the symptoms of numbness in the hands and fingers. The typical symptoms are described as pins and needles and most people describe it as if their fingers or hands have gone to sleep. This usually occurs during sleeping, after sitting for prolonged periods, or when someone holds their hand above their head during activities such as changing a light bulb. Most people will self diagnose themselves with either carpal tunnel syndrome or with something much more dire. But for most people, neither assumption is true.
If you look at the anatomy of our hands you will notice that all the nerves and blood vessels come from further up. They don't start at your hand and end at your hand. They actually start at your neck and end up in the tips of your fingers. They must travel through your shoulder, below your pectoral muscles, through your elbow, underneath your forearm muscles, through the 8 bones in your wrist and then into each one of your fingers. That's a long way to travel. It also presents numerous opportunities for an obstruction to occur.
Think of the nerves and blood supply in your arms as if it were a river. And think of your neck as being the reservoir. Now, normally the river runs from the reservoir out to the surrounding areas(your fingers). However, sometimes a tree falls across the river and prevents most of the water from running down the river. So the areas at the end of the river(your fingers) don't get much water(nerve and blood supply). At this point most people notice that they have numb or tingly fingers and decide that they have a hand or wrist problem. But most of the time the problem lies with the tree that fell over the river, not with the areas downstream.
There are numerous places that the nerves and blood supply that go to your fingers can become restricted. These places are your neck, shoulder, pectoral muscles, elbow, forearm, 8 bones of the wrist, or the muscles of your hand. Therefore, be careful in assuming that your problem is in your hand just because you feel symptoms in your hand. To get the best diagnosis for your tingly hands you must find someone who will inspect all the areas between your neck and fingers.
One of the most common places for a restriction is in your neck and pectoral muscles. This is because most people sit at a desk for a living. This causes us to roll our shoulders forward and stick our heads out, usually to see a computer. When our shoulders roll forward our pectoral muscles shorten and eventually become extremely tight. This then presses on the nerves and blood supply that run directly underneath your pectoral muscles. If these muscles get tight enough we start to feel numb or tingly hands. Stretching of the pectoral muscles can usually prevent this problem. 
Even though one of the most common sites for a restriction is your pectoral muscles there are many other places where you may have issues. I would urge your to have a qualified practitioner look at your entire arm for restrictions. Since your wrist has 8 different bones you should have a chiropractor make sure that each one is moving properly. If there is a bone that isn't moving correctly it can put pressure on a nerve and give you carpal tunnel syndrome. They will also make sure that the muscles and bones of your arm are moving properly and allowing the nerves and blood vessels to flow freely.

Doctors Note:  Numb hands can mean many things, but the simplest reason is usually the right one.  Most the time it's just muscles of the chest pinching something off.  Try this first:  Find a doorway, pin both your arms on either side of the doorway and take a small step through the doorway so you feel a stretch in you chest muscles.  Then hold this stretch for 3 minutes.  Repeat this twice daily for 2 weeks.  If this doesn't improve your symptoms then go have someone take a closer look.

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