Tingling sensation, numbness, pins and needles, paresthesia, weakness…sounds familiar? Tingling or other symptoms into the arms hands or legs and feet can be frustrating and worrying. This may start as an occasional nuisance that eventually turns into a chronic problem. If noticed it is best to address it straight away to prevent it worsening or becoming a problem, but even if you have experienced this for a long time there is hope!
Read on to find out more about numbness or tingling sensations in the arms and legs, why they happen and what you can do to solve them for the long term.
tingling sensation in hands & tingling in fingers?
Some people experience this if they sleep awkwardly or maybe overuse their phone. This can be completely normal as the nerves are in an abnormal position and get compressed, especially if it happens rarely. However, if numbness or tingling sensation in hands and numbness or tingling in fingers happens more regularly, or easily in any posture, then it can be a sign of an underlying problem.
If there is paresthesia, numbness or tingling in the hands it may be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, however this is much rarer than originally thought, with many sufferers undergoing physiotherapy and surgery to no avail. There can also be irritation of the nerves further up the body, especially in the neck. This is especially true for anyone under 55 year of age who does not perform repetitive physical labour tasks.
Poor posture may be a factor, compressing the nerves in the neck or shoulder (read more about the causes below), such as in upper crossed syndrome.
tingling sensation in legs & Tingling in feet?
Similar to the tingling in the hands and fingers, this can be normal in certain situations; such as sitting on the floor for long periods, or having the legs in abnormal positions. Tingling in the feet can commonly happen in certain sports, especially where there is pressure on the ankle or foot, such as skiing. If this happens more regularly or with little triggers, this is a sign of a problem.
This will be affected by poor posture or lower crossed posture. Tingling in the legs or feet can be commonly linked to the lumbar spine (lower back), but the effect of the neck is overlooked. The neck will affect the overall posture. Correction of problems in the neck can help tingling in the legs and feet to be solved long term, particularly in chronic cases.
If there is a history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, special attention needs to be paid as more investigation may be needed.
What is the Tingling sensation?
The tingling sensation is usually due to compression of the nerves which supply to that part of the body, causing paresthesia, such as to the arms or legs. The nerve damage can either be locally (close) or distal (another part of the body). This may also present as numbness, weakness, pins and needles or pain.
For example, if a person has tingling into their hands and fingers this can be due to pressure on a nerve at different levels, known as peripheral nerves.
There can be local nerve damage, such as at the wrist, known as carpal tunnel syndrome. There could also be compression near the elbow as the nerves pass by the bones of the forearm. Compression can then be at the shoulder. However, one of the first places for pressure on a nerve would be the neck, as this is where the nerves originate from. In general, the closer the compression is to the spine and brain, the more potential effects and tingling that may be produced.
Does this problems in the nervous system go both ways?
A compression at the wrist may include tingling in the hands and fingers. But a compression at the neck could be the underlying condition causing paresthesia or tingling in the hands and fingers, and also the forearm, upper arm, shoulder and neck too! This nerve compression may not cause a tingling sensation in all the areas it travels to, but it is possible. It is rare for a compression to cause a tingling sensation further ‘up’ its pathway.
Compression at the wrist is very rare to cause symptoms into the upper arm shoulder or neck, but the upper arm, shoulder or neck can affect further ‘down’ to the wrist and hand.
What makes the tingling sensation?
The tingling sensation is the interruption of messages in the nerves when they are compressed. The nerves are very sensitive, so when they get pinched it will disrupt their normal functions.
Think of the nerves like a water hose. If you twist or press on the hose the water will slow down or stop. This results in water not getting where it needs to go and backing up. However your nerves are more complex than a water hose. The nerves can either have less information passing (similar to the reduced water flow) or more/incorrect information may pass in the nerves.
What about other sensations?
For less flow, this may result in numbness or weakness. For increased flow or irritation, this may be tingling, pain, pins and needles or incorrect sensations, known as allodynia. Allodynia is an abnormal sensation to a stimulus, such as experiencing pain when combing your hair or feeling heat when clothes touch your skin.
This can also be thought of as similar to disruption in a phone line. This disruption could result in things not being able to be heard, or heard incorrectly, creating confusion!
When should I be worried about pins and needles? What are causes of tingling sensation?
So now we understand why the paresthesia sensation is felt, the next step is asking why it happens in the first place?! What causes this compression of the nerves? Below are the most common causes:
This includes any physical structure which could compress the nerves, either in the arms or legs. In the arms (as detailed above) this can happen at the neck, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm or wrist.
In the legs this pinch can happen in the lumbar spine (where the leg nerves originate), the hip, the buttocks, the leg, the knee, the ankle or in the foot. A rare growth in the foot would be a Morton’s neuroma.
Leg pain can also be caused by a pinch in the upper spine, especially the neck. This can be as a misalignment or an upper motor neuron lesion in more serious cases. This can affect all the nerves lower down in the body.
Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) at one of the above joints can be a cause of the tingling, however the other parts of the arm and neck or leg and spine should be examined for best outcomes.
If there is degeneration to the cervical or lumbar spine, this may be termed spondylosis or arthritis.
Leg pain can be common in pregnant women. This is usually due to the change in weight and centre of gravity due to the growing baby. This leads to change in posture, compressing the sciatic nerve.
Inflammation & toxins
This includes certain foods, medications or disease states. Vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin B1, B6, B12, E or niacin can result in tingling or pins and needles. Excessive toxins can cause paresthesia, such as arsenic, thallium and mercury.
Medications can produce tingling as a side effect, especially for diseases such as cancer, HIV, seizures, heart conditions and blood pressure. Alcohol abuse can slow healing and increase inflammation in the body.
These are less common, including tingling as a side effect of a disease or condition. Multiple sclerosis is a condition affecting the spinal cord and nervous system, which can produce paresthesia as well as pain, fatigue, dizziness and cognitive issues.
When should I be worried about numbness or tingling?
Infectious conditions, such as HIV, leprosy and Lyme disease can be a cause of tingling symptoms. Lupus, coeliac disease, diabetic neuropathy, Raynaud’s phenomenon and rheumatoid arthritis are non-infectious diseases which can cause tingling. If suspected, please seek medical advice for a medical history and treatment.
Kidney failure can produce tingling, commonly with cramping, twitching, paresthesia and weakness of the muscles. Peripheral arterial disease (insufficient blood flow into the extremities) can result in tingling, pain and slow walking, especially under exertion.
While paresthesia has only been mentioned in a small number on Covid 19 cases, please keep up to date with health information and seek a physical examination of you suspect you have Covid 19.
Is tingling a sign of stroke?
Stroke, if suspected, is a medical emergency requiring immediate medical advice; this may be accompanied with body weakness, difficulty speaking, blurred vision and confusion.
Chiropractic care for tingling sensation?
Chiropractic, particularly Upper Cervical Chiropractic, has a proven history of helping tingling, numbness, weakness and pins and needles in the arms/hands or legs/feet. This is true if there is compression of the nerves, which is seen in the majority of cases. Chiropractors are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of nerve system problems, especially relating to the brainstem and spinal cord. Once serious pathologies or conditions are ruled out (see above), Chiropractic care is a safe, non-invasive treatment method to reduce the compression of the nerves so that the body can heal.
Chiropractic help the spinal cord and nervous system
Chiropractic is a registered profession, taking 5 years of training, to learn how to identify and correct nerve system problems, chiefly caused by misalignments of the bones in the spine, known as Subluxations. These Subluxations will misalign the spine, close the spaces where the nerves exit the spine, putting pressure on these nerves and interfering with their regular functions.
Chiropractors use gently, specific treatment techniques known as Chiropractic adjustments on the spine. This corrects the Subluxation, reducing the nerve pressure. Medication will not remove this level of interference. The symptoms will then reduce as the body returns to normal.
If you have any questions or need help finding the Singapore Chiropractic centre to help with stress, then contact us via 8438 9550 or email@example.com, or comment on Facebook or Instagram.
Since 2013, Upper Cervical Chiropractor, Dr. Shaan Rai helped patients achieve greater health, relocating to Singapore in 2016 and founding Vitality Chiropractic Centres. He has an impressive track record in providing relief and solutions for people who experience nerve system problems, such as headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo or neurological conditions.
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