T Nation

Nerve Problems

Help, My left hands index finger started going numb in August. It slowly became worse, Left side during pressing movements & tri movements becoming weaker than right. Went to Dr. to get a MRI, she said no, must have basic xrays 1st. Results show that I have slight narrowuing @ C6, the Dr. who looked over my x-rays said these are not the normal xrays of a 38 yr. old man. I have been training since 1982, training the way this site thrives on. Do I have years of weighlifting to blame for this outcome? I am having a MRI dec. 22. The nerves from my neck to my delt down the tri to my Thumb,index and middle finger feel like I’m being shocked if I lift my arm up. It’s very very painful, I can’t do anything. My chiropractor has just come up with something called Scalene Theory, so he’s doing some ART on my Scalenes. I have had 2 sessions with SOME relief. I’m growing very scared, I don’t think I can just stop traing just like that after 22 years. I truly believe I don’t have any disk issues in my cervical area, I’m praying I don’t. ANY INPUT WOULD BE GRATEFUL.

Go with the Chiro. My wife got dumped from a horse she was training a while ago. She’s been thrown probably a thousand times in her life and is used to bumps and shit. Well this time instead of getting better she got worse so she saw the regular doc. X rays, blood test, blah, blah. He couldn’t find anything “wrong”.

Saw the Chiro this morning and feels better already.

I’ve had the fingers going numb gradually turning into pain and burning up the arm to the base of the neck. The same Chiro fixed it the first time and now I get in as soon as the tingling starts. He practices stuff called NUCA (no idea what that is) but it’s a different and more subtle form of manipulation and he only does it adjust my skull on top of my spine. It’s no BS either because you can see my noggin not lining up on the X ray. Anyway it fixes the problem. The longer the problem exists the longer after the adjustment it takes to fully recover.

I’ve seen Chiros I thought were quacks, but I’ve seen MDs I felt the same about. If you find a good one they’re worth keeping.

Don’t worry, you’ll be OK.

Look up the Mackenzie exercises. They worked well for fixing my lower back nerve problems. I had pain in my leg, and these exercises helped to relieve most of the pain. They have them for both the lumbar and neck.

I have a very similar problem in my back, on the left side, with very similar symptoms. ART has done wonders for it, but has’nt fixed the problem. Basically I have to go once every 2 to 3 weeks to keep it manageable and I imagine I’m simply going to be living with it for the rest of my life. Hopefully you can get similar relief from your chiropractor and be able to live with lesser symptoms as I have. I find that taking a week off from lifting every 8 weeks makes a big difference. Best of luck and hope you get some relief.

First of all, don’t be scared, because fear is processed by the emotional centers in the brain which then in turn can cause an increase in the signals of pain. In fact, a person’s emotional response to pain is a known factor in the perception of pain. So don’t be afraid!

I once had severe pain for over 6 months radiating down my arm to my inside elbow and pinky. I had even lost feeling in my pinky and middle fingers. But now my arm and hand are totally recovered. You’re gonna recover!

Second, over 80% of people experience spinal-related pain at some point in their lives. So you can’t necessarily chalk yours up to weightlifting. It is true, though, that heavy activity (e.g., sports, weightlifting, working at UPS) increases the risk of spinal injury; but so does being sedentary. The lowest risk is somewhere in between.

Thirdly, don’t do activities that cause extreme pain, but stay active. Inactivity makes things worse.

Fourth, check out the information at the Coventry Pain Clinic site. The best single source of info for spinal pain on the web I have found far. Start by reading about pain. You seem to have nerve pain, caused by an injured nerve, which becomes electrically unstable, firing randomly. Read the page about Pain Mechanisms as well. It is greatly helpful to understand what’s going on. Read the Back Book link (under Spinal Pain) to help you realize that you will almost certainly be OK. The body has amazing ability to heal. Then be sure to look at Spinal Nerve Root Pain and the Nerve Pain sections. You may have some nerve entrapment neuropathy. Your C6 narrowing and nerve symptoms down the arm are consistent (i.e., the entrapment at C6 is the cause).

The home page URL is http://www.coventrypainclinic.org.uk/index.htm

The pain medications for nerve pain aren’t generally 100% effective and do have significant side effects. (But they can be necessary and somewhat helpful.) NSAIDS aren’t that effective for nerve pain. The one suggested treatment that I would definitely try is topical capsaicin cream. My mom uses a brand called Zostrix for arthritis. You will feel a burning at first, but keep using it as directed and the burning will go away. It can interrupt the nerve pain cycle.

Entrapment can be caused by inappropriate muscle tension. So check out the recent article by Mike Robertson on aligning the thoracic spine, check out Ian King’s recent articles on checking for imbalances. You may not be able to do the exercises or stretches in your current state, but you may be able to identify a contributing postural cause and change it later, when your nerve pain has subsided. For example, you may have an excessive curve in your cervival spine, which can cause the space for your spinal cord to narrow, thus squeezing it and the nerve roots coming out of it. I believe that if that’s the case, you should look for imbalances in your hips and core and work on endurance for the core muscles that are weak. It’s hard for the cervical spine to be aligned if there are imbalances in the hips and core.

For healing the injury, support your body with a strict anti-inflammatory diet (lots of fresh organic vegetables, fruit, protein, no processed flour, sugar, or hydrogenated fats) as well as big doses of fish oil. EPA and DHA are extremely important compounds for nerve cells (one of them is, DHA I think). They are also beneficial for joints. You can’t go wrong. Get the best stuff and start slugging it down. Also, take a high-quality, high-dose antioxidant supplement.

Next, try fast walking with some arm swinging. Walking has been found to be benficial for low back pain, and I can’t imagine it would be that different for the cervical spine. Something about the mechanisms used in fast walking, the elastic energy that takes advantage of the springlike properties, does good things for the spine.

My last recommendation for now is perhaps to cautiously try neural “flossing” for the brachial plexus. The idea is that your nerve is squeezed or trapped. There’s a big old nerve coming out of your spine at C6 and travelling down the arm. When you move your arm, or your neck, that long nerve actually travels a bit back and forth, like dental floss. When anything squeezes the nerve so that it can’t move freely (tight muscles, muscle spasm, inflammatory condition of the spine, arthritis, etc.), you get adhesions, pain, and weakness in the muscles that are enervated by this nerve. The idea of flossing is that if you can move just the right way, you can encourage the nerve to slide more freely, and possibly break up adhesions.

Extend your arm out to the side of your body, palm facing the ceiling. Flex your elbow to bring your forearm perendicular to the floor; flex your wrist to point your hand at your chin; and bend your neck so that your head moves AWAY from the arm. You should feel the nerve stretch a little. You may not need to move everything to feel the stretch if you have serious impingement. Just do whatever’s necessary for a mild stretch, then release, stretch, release, etc. Each stretch-release should last about 2 seconds; don’t hold the stretch, just repeat it rhythmically. And repeat it a lot of times (one journal article said 150 times).

Lastly, I encourage you to keep seeing your doctor and other practitioners, and do your own research too. The spine is complicated. Similar symptoms can be caused by many different problems. Some problems should be addressed differently than others. Read up the Coventry stuff, pay careful attention to your symptoms, keep a log, tell your doctor everything. And keep us posted on how you’re doing!