T Nation

Finger Numbness - Please help

I know this is long - but please bear with me. A few months ago I was performing my final set of five reps of a standing military press. I had been lifting only for a few weeks after a 6-week layoff (during which time I tried some of Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning exercises) and had during these 3 weeks started up with military presses having predominantly done standing presses behind the neck previously. I was only using 115lbs, which was the highest I had done for the military press since I just started doing them again (and was surprised that I was significantly stronger in the press behind the neck). On my first rep, I felt a crack (joint, vertebrae ? not sure) somewhere between my left shoulder and left side of my neck. My neck was immediately tight and sore, sort of like how it is when you wake up having slept wrong or with a draft. I immediately stopped the set, but continued with the rest of my workout (front squats, I believe, the exercise before the military presses was power cleans, if I remember correctly).

I went home and for the rest of that day and the next day I took it easy. It would be stiffer in the morning, but get better as the day went on. 2 days after the incident, I worked-out again, this time Squats, Bent-Over Barbell Rows and Incline Presses. No issues, no problems. The neck continued to get a little better each day. Then 2 days after that, I performed chins, dips and then trap-bar dead lifts. I went as heavy as I had on the dead lifts since I started up with weights again, topping off at 365. After that, I finished off my workout with light rotator cuff work using the Shoulder Horn. During this I felt some strain in my left shoulder, though not similar to the aggravation caused in the neck/shoulder 4 days earlier. At the end of the next day, while stuck in traffic, I felt some tingling in my ring and pinky fingers of my left hand. I had been leaning on it a bit while in traffic, so I assumed it had just fallen asleep. However, after getting off it, I shook my hand but the mild tingling remained. It stayed through for the rest of the day, and persisted, for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t a hindrance at all -I could function as always- though I decided to take a brief layoff from the heavy stuff. The only time it would flare up was if I slept on it during the night, or on my left side.

It became more and more faint during the day, to the point I could hardly feel it, but I decided to go to a chiropractor. He took X-rays and pointed out various points along my spine where vertebrae were subluxated. I received adjustments a few times a week for a few weeks, and again, expect when I’d sleep on it, I could only feel the tingling if I concentrated on it. I began training heavy again 2-3 days per week on the SUPER SQUATS program, and made some of the best progress of my life both in size and strength in about 6 weeks. Oddly enough, one afternoon in a lecture hall at work I was leaning on the right elbow and began to feel the same thing. I went to the chiropractor, received an adjustment, and later that evening the tingling in the right was gone, and has remained gone.

However, after the left hand was still tingling mildly after about 10 weeks, I decided to have it checked by a neurologist (I work at a university medical center). He performed a series of manual tests, and determined that there was no lost of strength or feeling. He said I had likely pinched a nerve during that workout, but that everything was fine. He said that the tingling is often the last thing to go and could even persist for months but to come back only if it got worse.

I continued training heavy and hard when I decided to take a week off from training. During that week, I woke up one morning and my left hand was tingling more than ever. I was surprised it felt that way as I wasn’t sleeping in that side and I wasn’t sleeping on it. I shook it off but the intense tingling persisted. That was 10 days ago and it’s tingling now more than ever, all day long. Leaning on my elbow will send that feeling all the way from my elbow to my hand, as will other similar movements, though surprisingly, training doesn’t seem to affect it. The numbness has spread to the outer palm of my hand, and is at its worst in my left pinky, with the tip of it so sensitive that it often hurts to use it while typing. This past week I went to the chiropractor 3 times, though I’m now getting more and more concerned, since though its not truly debilitating, it’s becoming so tingling and numb as to be a problem.

Aside from going back to the neurologist, and possibly continuing with the chiropractor, do you have any suggestions? Has anyone experienced something like this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I had the same problem, a pinched Ulnar nerve in my left shoulder. I had active release performed and the numbness has went away and not returned. It took a one hour session of ART to clear the problem up. Go to www.Activerelease.com and find a provider in your area. I hope this helps.

Joe_

I had shoulder surgery last summer to repair some torn tendons. I had a similar “tingle” or “numbness” up until only a couple months ago. It was constant though, never went a way.

I finally have feeling back in the three fingers but there’s still a slight tingle from time to time. I think I’ve just gotten used to it.

Hopefully the problem you’re having will go away. Otherwise, I hope you can get used to it as I have.

Thanks Joe - there’s a certified technician right down the road from me. I’ll look into it.

The nature of your numbness sounds a lot like computer-related repetetive strain injury (that often gets thrown under the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome umbrella).

I’m a computer programmer and have had my share of hand and wrist pain and tingling. Nothing serious for me but only because I took it seriously early and have been OK with prevention.

The nerves of the hands and arms can get pinched in any number of places and from many different causes. I’ve had weird hand tingles that ultimately had to do with bad upper-body posture and muscle tension through the shoulders and arms.

So, since you had a single traumatic event that started your problems, it’s good that you had it checked out by the docs… but I wouldn’t get too freaked out that the numness hasn’t gone away. Especially since you’ve had an injury there may still be some tension or irritation in your upper body that’s putting pressure on the nerves. Do you feel any tension or tightness around where you had the injury? Or anywhere in the upper body? If I rub the base of my neck just right I can feel twinges in my hands, so if you have a muscle somewhere that’s tensed up around that nerve, you better believe you’ll get pain and numbness in the hands!

The recommendation for ART is probably a good one. I’ve never had it myself, but from what I’ve read it may be just the thing.

I would also look into stretching the upper body, especially as a way to give any treatments a better chance of sticking and giving permanent relief. That made a huge difference in my RSI symptoms.

Nick

It sounds to me as though you’ve pinched the ulnar nerve. While this could have happened up near the neck/shoulder level it could also happen behind the elbow. Make sure you have your ART provider check this area as well.