Tingling shoulders and neck

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What’s Causing the Numbness in My Neck and How Do I Treat It?

There are many potential causes of neck numbness, many of which also cause neck pain. Most are treatable, but may require a doctor’s visit.

Herniated disc

Discs are the cushions between vertebrae. They have a soft center and a harder outside layer. With herniated discs, also called slipped discs, some of the soft center comes out through the outside layer, which can irritate nearby nerves. This usually happens in the lower back or neck.

Normal aging is the most common cause, but heavy lifting with improper form can also herniate a disc. When the nerves in the neck are irritated by a disc, it can cause numbness around the neck and shoulders.

Other symptoms of a herniated disc include:

  • weakness in the body parts served by affected nerves
  • numbness or tingling in the body parts served by affected nerves
  • arm or leg pain, depending on the location of the herniated disc

Pinched nerve

A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve in your neck gets compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord. It may happen because of an injury, or from changes in your spine as you age.

Pinched nerves usually respond to over-the-counter pain medication and physical therapy, but may require surgery.

Other symptoms include:

  • muscle weakness in your arm and hand
  • numbness in your arm and hand
  • pain that radiates into your shoulder

Cervical stenosis

Cervical stenosis is a condition in which your spinal canal is too narrow for the spinal cord and nerves. This can cause damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots. It may be caused by:

  • degenerative arthritis
  • having smaller than average bones that line the spinal canal
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • having the ligament that runs down the spinal cord increase in size

Other symptoms include:

  • neck pain
  • numbness in your arms or hand
  • pain on one or both arms
  • electrical sensation in your spine when you move your head

Neck injury

Neck injuries, such as a sports injury or whiplash from a motor vehicle collision, can cause other symptoms, including:

  • arm and shoulder pain
  • headache
  • facial pain
  • dizziness
  • stiffness

A neck injury can be serious. See a doctor as soon as possible if you injure your neck.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system disease that damages myelin, the substance that surrounds nerve fibers. This stops or disrupts messages in the central nervous system. The causes of MS are unknown.

Other symptoms of MS include:

  • fatigue
  • issues with walking or gait
  • numbness and tingling throughout your body
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • pain
  • vision problems
  • spasticity

Infections

Infections like meningitis and the flu can cause neck numbness. Meningitis causes inflammation around the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms come on suddenly and should be immediately evaluated by a doctor.

Other symptoms of infection that can cause neck numbness include:

  • headaches
  • body aches
  • vomiting
  • neck stiffness (severe in meningitis)

Nerve damage

Nerves in the neck can be damaged by disc issues, such as a herniated disc. They can also be damaged by a spinal cord injury or long-term side effects of certain medications. These are serious health issues that require immediate treatment from a healthcare professional.

Nerve damage may also cause issues with walking and moving.

Arthritis

Arthritis in the neck, also called cervical spondylosis, is a common, age-related condition. It often causes no noticeable symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they might include neck pain and stiffness than improves when resting or lying down.

Migraine

Migraines are recurring headaches that cause moderate to severe throbbing pain, especially on one side of the head. Researchers think they may have a genetic cause, but are often triggered by certain habits or environmental factors.

There are four phases of migraine, with different symptoms:

  • Prodrome. This occurs about 24 hours before a migraine and includes early signs and symptoms like food cravings or mood changes.
  • Aura. You might see flashing or bright lights and have muscle weakness. It happens right before or during a migraine.
  • Headache. During the migraine itself, you might have nausea, pain on one side of your head, and increased sensitivity to light and noise.
  • Postdrome. You might feel exhausted or weak for up to a day after your headache.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can cause the muscles in your neck and shoulders to tense. This can cause pain, numbness, and other neck issues. Moving your head may be painful.

New Tingling in Neck

Q1. I have had MS for almost 20 years now. The past couple of weeks, my shoulder and the side of my neck up into my face and sometimes up to my hairline tingles. Is this common with MS or another cause?

Tingling of the shoulder, neck up to the face can occur for many reasons. This can occur with multiple sclerosis; however, it can also occur with irritation of nerves in the neck due to “a pinched nerve in the neck” either from arthritis or a disc problem in the neck. It would certainly be important to be sure there is not an anatomical problem irritating the nerve going to your neck, with an MRI of the neck to be certain that there is not a physical problem rather than just attributing it all to multiple sclerosis. Thus, MRI of the neck could be performed as well as an electrical test called an EMG, which checks the nerves and the muscles in the arm to see if there is a problem with the nerves and muscles, which would not be related to multiple sclerosis. If all these other studies are negative, then it could be possible that this could be related to multiple sclerosis.

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

It’s important to recognize and understand the potential symptoms of spinal stenosis because having this knowledge can help you obtain an early diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms typically develop when the spinal canal narrows and/or nerve roots are compressed, causing neural irritation, inflammation and pain. The lumbar (low back) and cervical (neck) spinal levels are commonly affected by this age-related and gradually progressive disorder. Symptoms may inhibit your ability to move without discomfort, pain and/or neurological signs, such as tingling sensations and numbness that may radiate (travel) into another part of your body.
Generally, spinal stenosis affects your low back (lumbar spine) or your neck (cervical spine). Photo Source: 123RF.com.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

The most common symptom of spinal stenosis is low back, buttock and back of the thigh pain that worsens with standing and walking. These symptoms are called neurogenic claudication. Many people with lumbar spinal stenosis experience symptoms only when they are standing or active. Often, the discomfort temporarily eases when bending forward and is relieved by sitting down.

  • When you are at the grocery store does leaning forward on the cart’s handle reduce your pain?

This is a rather common scenario for people with spinal stenosis in their low back. Pain that eases when you bend forward, sit, or lie down is typical of lumbar spinal stenosis.

  • It’s important to understand that claudication is not neurogenic or pseudoclaudication. While the symptoms of claudication are similar to pseudoclaudication, the cause is different. Claudication is caused by poor blood circulation in the leg muscles.

Other common symptoms include low back pain and lumbar radiculopathy. Widely known as sciatica, lumbar radiculopathy is pain, numbness, weakness, and/or tingling sensations that radiate (travel) downward from the affected level in the low back into the buttocks and legs. Some people experience pain in both legs, though one leg can be worse than the other.

  • Bowel and Bladder Alert: In severe cases of lumbar spinal stenosis, nerves that control the bladder or bowel may be compressed, which can lead to partial or complete incontinence. If you’re having problems controlling your bladder or bowel, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Spinal stenosis in your neck can cause cervical radiculopathy—symptoms may include pain accompanied by tingling sensations, numbness and/or weakness. These symptoms may radiate downward from your neck into one or both shoulders, arms and/or hands. The pain caused by cervical spinal stenosis may be described as acute, episodic, occasional, or it may become chronic; it’s intensity can vary from mild to severe.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with balance; increased risk for falling.
  • Fine motor skills (eg, handwriting, buttoning a shirt) may be affected.

On the potentially severe end of cervical spinal stenosis symptoms are those associated with cervical myelopathy. Cervical myelopathy occurs when the spinal canal narrows to the point that it compresses the spinal cord in your neck. While pinched nerves in your neck may affect your shoulders, arms and/or hands, myelopathy can involve both your arms and legs. Common symptoms of cervical myelopathy include neck pain, stiffness, tingling sensations, numbness, weakness, clumsiness, balance problems, difficulty walking, bowel and/or bladder problems, and sexual dysfunction.

Spinal Stenosis Doesn’t Always Cause Symptoms

Sometimes an imaging study (eg, MRI, CT scan) detects a spine disorder for which a patient has no symptoms. That is one reason why imaging tests are performed to confirm a diagnosis, which is supported by results from the physical/ neurological exam, medical history, and symptoms. Many people who have undergone an x-ray or other imaging test for a non-spine-related matter have discovered they have spondylosis, osteophytes, and/or a bulging disc. Yet, they never knew it because they were not symptomatic.

Spinal stenosis has been referred to as the gray hair of the spine, meaning it’s often an age-related and gradual process of physical change. It may take time for the symptoms of cervical or lumbar spinal stenosis to become apparent. If you have neck or low back pain and symptoms that persist or worsen, talk with your doctor.

View Sources

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. North American Spine Society Public Education Series brochure. 2008.

Types of Neck Pain

Neck pain is very common, but it can take many forms, and symptoms can vary widely. For some patients, neck pain is constant, while for others it comes and goes. Some of the most common neck pain types include:

  • Stiff neck. Irritated, sore muscles can cause pain when moving the head, especially from side to side.
  • Sharp pain. A stabbing pain in one location is most common in lower areas of the neck.
  • Radiating pain. Pain that moves from the neck into the shoulders, arms, and hands. This pain may be described as a burning sensation.
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness. These “pins and needles” sensations can extend from the neck into the shoulders, arms, or hands.
  • Headache. Neck muscles that are tightened or irritated can affect connected muscles and nerves in the head, causing tension headaches. The pain is most often felt in the sides of the head and the scalp.
  • Cracking, snapping, and crunching. The neck may make sounds, particularly when you turn your head from side to side. Called crepitus, these sounds on their own most often do not indicate a serious condition.

Sometimes, neck pain develops suddenly, often after an injury or strain. In other cases, it becomes noticeable slowly, worsening over time. Neck pain that grows worse is often caused by a degenerative condition, such as osteoarthritis.

In addition, the location and type of the pain may provide clues about its causes. For example, when a nerve is compressed at or near the top of the spine, it can cause headaches. Farther down the cervical spine, irritation of nerves may result in changes in the arms, such as weakness or numbness.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention for:

  • Radiating arm or leg pain
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in arms or legs
  • Problems with balance or coordination
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Unintended weight loss

Seek immediate medical care if you experience:

  • Fever, headache, and neck too stiff to move comfortably. These may be symptoms of a serious infection, such as meningitis.
  • Shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or arm or jaw pain. These may be signs of a heart attack.

Neck Pain

Neurosurgeons should be consulted for neck pain if:

  • It occurs after an injury or blow to the head
  • Fever or headache accompanies the neck pain
  • Stiff neck prevents the patient from touching chin to chest
  • Pain shoots down one arm
  • There is tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms or hands
  • Neck symptoms associated with leg weakness or loss of coordination in arms or legs
  • The pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medication
  • Pain does not improve after a week

Age, injury, poor posture or diseases such as arthritis can lead to degeneration of the bones or joints of the cervical spine, causing disc herniation or bone spurs to form. Sudden severe injury to the neck may also contribute to disc herniation, whiplash, blood vessel destruction, vertebral injury and, in extreme cases, permanent paralysis. Herniated discs or bone spurs may cause a narrowing of the spinal canal or the small openings through which spinal nerve roots exit. Pressure on a nerve root by a herniated disc or a bone spur may result in:

  • Pain in the arm and neck
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm or forearm
  • Tingling in the fingers or hand

Pressure on the spinal cord in the cervical region can be a very serious problem because virtually all of the nerves to the rest of the body have to pass through the neck to reach their final destination (arms, chest, abdomen, legs). This can potentially compromise the function of many important organs.

Cervical Stenosis

Cervical stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord and is most frequently caused by aging. The discs in the spine that separate and cushion vertebrae may dry out. As a result, the space between the vertebrae shrinks, and the discs lose their ability to act as shock absorbers. At the same time, the bones and ligaments that make up the spine become less pliable and thicken. These changes result in a narrowing of the spinal canal. In addition, the degenerative changes associated with cervical stenosis can affect the vertebrae by contributing to the growth of bone spurs that compress the nerve roots. Mild stenosis can be treated conservatively for extended periods of time as long as the symptoms are restricted to neck pain. Severe stenosis requires referral to a neurosurgeon.

Neck Injuries

Neck injuries can occur during motor vehicle accidents, other traumatic events or sports. Symptoms of these injuries include neck stiffness, shoulder or arm pain, headache, facial pain and dizziness. Pain from a motor vehicle injury may be caused by tears in muscles or injuries to the joints between vertebrae. Other causes of pain are ligament rupture or damage to a disc. Conservative treatment of these injuries includes pain medication, bed rest, reduction of physical activity and physical therapy.

Diagnosing Neck Pain

Diagnosis is made by a neurosurgeon based on patient history, symptoms, a physical examination and results of diagnostic studies, if necessary. Some patients may be treated conservatively and then undergo imaging studies if medication and physical therapy are ineffective. These tests may include:

  • Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan)
  • Discography
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Myleogram
  • Selective Nerve Root Block
  • X-rays

Conservative (Nonsurgical) Treatment Options

Determining a treatment strategy depends mainly on identifying the location and cause of the irritated nerve root. Although neck pain can be quite debilitating and painful, nonsurgical management can alleviate many symptoms. The doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the pain or inflammation and muscle relaxants to allow time for healing to occur. Reducing physical activities or wearing a cervical collar may help provide support for the spine, reduce mobility and decrease pain and irritation. Trigger point injection, including corticosteroids, can temporarily relieve pain. Occasionally, epidural steroids may be recommended. Conservative treatment options may continue for up to six or eight weeks.

If the patient is experiencing any weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, seek medical advice. If the patient has had any trauma and is now experiencing neck pain with weakness or numbness, consult a neurosurgeon.

When Surgery is Necessary

There are several surgical treatments available to treat cervical spine disorders. Factors that help determine the type of surgical treatment include the specifics of the disc disease and the presence or absence of pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. Other factors include age, how long the patient has had the disorder, other medical conditions and if there has been previous cervical spine surgery.

When conservative treatment for neck pain does not provide relief, surgery may be needed. Patients may be a candidate for surgery if:

  • Conservative therapy is not helping
  • The patient experiences progressive neurological symptoms involving the arms and legs
  • The patient experiences difficulty with balance or walking
  • The patient is in otherwise good health

There are several different surgical procedures which can be utilized, the choice of which is influenced by the severity of each case. In a small percentage of patients, spinal instability may require that spinal fusion be performed, a decision that is generally determined prior to surgery. Spinal fusion is an operation that creates a solid union between two or more vertebrae. Various devices (like screws or plates) may be used to enhance fusion and support unstable areas of the cervical spine. This procedure may assist in strengthening and stabilizing the spine and may thereby help to alleviate severe and chronic neck pain.

If the patient smokes, he or she should try to quit. Smoking damages the structures and architecture of the spine and slows down the healing process. If overweight, the patient should try to lose weight. Both smoking and obesity have been shown to have a negative impact on spinal fusion surgery outcome.

The benefits of surgery should always be weighed carefully against its risks. Although a large percentage of neck pain patients report significant pain relief after surgery, there is no guarantee that surgery will help every individual.

The AANS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult his or her neurosurgeon, or locate one in your area through the AANS’ Find a Board-certified Neurosurgeon online tool.

Acute neck pain

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of neck pain may be stiffness, tightness, aching, burning or stabbing or shooting pains, pressure, or tingling. Muscles can feel sore or tense in the neck, face, or shoulders. Muscles can spasm when they go into a state of extreme contraction (e.g., after whiplash). Movement may be restricted — perhaps you cannot turn your head. If nerves are involved, pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness may develop in your shoulders, arms or hands.

Several situations signal the need for prompt medical attention. If nerve compression is severe, symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling in the arms or legs, loss of bladder or bowel control, or loss of strength and problems with coordination.

Neck pain along with a severe headache, fever, or nausea could be a sign of infection or a bleed in the brain. If your neck is so stiff that you can’t touch your chin to chest, seek medical help immediately.

What are the causes?

Neck pain can result from injury, poor posture, stress, natural wear, disease, and other sources. Poor spinal alignment (e.g., slouching, sleeping on the stomach) and improper lifting stress the cervical spine and make injuries more likely. Neck pain can result from:

  • Injury or trauma: A whiplash injury, sports injury, or fall can strain or tear muscles and ligaments. Fractures can occur.
  • Bulging or herniated disc: The gel-like center of a spinal disc can bulge or rupture through a weak area in the wall and compress nerves.
  • Pinched nerve: Compression of a spinal nerve as it leaves the canal can cause pain to travel down the arm into the hands or fingers. Pinched nerve pain differs from carpal tunnel syndrome, which usually involve numbness.
  • Osteoarthritis (degenerative disc disease): As discs naturally age they dry out and shrink; bone spurs can form. These changes lead to stenosis or disc herniation.
  • Stenosis: Narrowing of the bony canals in the spine can compress the cord and nerves, causing them to swell and inflame.

How is a diagnosis made?

A careful medical exam will help determine the type and cause of your neck problem, and the best treatment options. A diagnostic evaluation includes a medical history and physical exam. Sometimes imaging scans (e.g., x-ray, CT, MRI) and tests to check muscle strength and reflexes are used.

What treatments are available?

Healing begins with self-care and nonsurgical strategies (Fig. 2). The goal is to correct the problem, restore function, and prevent re-injury.

Figure 2. Exercise, strengthening, stretching and ideal weight loss are key elements to your treatment.

Self care: Neck pain often resolves with rest, ice or heat, massage, pain relievers, and gentle stretches. Reduce muscle inflammation and pain using an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 to 72 hours. Thereafter, a warm shower or heating pad on low setting may be added to relax the muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If self-care treatments aren’t working within the first couple of days, see your doctor.

Medications: Many people get pain relief with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. A muscle relaxant may be prescribed for spasms. If pain is severe, an analgesic may be prescribed that can be taken with the NSAID or muscle relaxant.

Steroids can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. They are taken orally as a Medrol dose pack tapered over a five-day period or by an injection directly into the pain source (see epidural steroid injections and facet injections). Steroids may provide immediate pain relief within 24-hours.

Physical therapy / exercise: For most neck pain, we recommend a nearly normal schedule from the onset. Physical therapy can help you return to full activity as soon as possible and prevent re-injury. Physical therapists will show proper lifting and walking techniques, and exercises to strengthen and stretch your neck, arms, and abdominal muscles. Massage, ultrasound, diathermy, heat, and traction may also be recommended for short periods. People may also benefit from yoga, chiropractic manipulation, and acupuncture.

Surgery: Surgery is rarely needed unless you have muscle weakness, a proven disc herniation, cervical cord compression, problems with balance and coordination, or severe pain that does not resolve after a reasonable course of nonsurgical treatment.

Recovery and prevention

Most people with acute neck pain respond rapidly to treatment; 90% are symptom-free within 1 to 2 weeks. A positive attitude, regular activity, and a prompt return to work are all very important elements of recovery. If regular job duties cannot be performed initially, modified (light or restricted) duty may be prescribed for a limited time.

Prevention is key to avoiding recurrence:

  • Proper lifting techniques
  • Good posture during sitting, standing, moving, and sleeping
  • Regular exercise with stretching and strengthening
  • An ergonomic work area
  • Good nutrition, healthy weight, lean body mass
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques
  • No smoking

Sources & Links

If you have more questions, please contact the Mayfield Brain & Spine at 800-325-7787 or 513-221-1100.

Glossary

acute: a condition of quick onset lasting a short time, opposite of chronic.

arthritis: joint inflammation caused by infection, immune deficiency (rheumatoid arthritis), or degeneration of the cartilage that causes pain, swelling, redness, warmth, and restricted movement.

chronic: a condition of slow progression and continuing over a long period of time, opposite of acute.

osteoporosis: loss of bone or atrophy of skeletal tissue that causes bones to weaken and become brittle, and prone to fracture. Preventive measures include adequate calcium and regular exercise to stimulate bone metabolism.

radiculopathy: refers to any disease affecting the spinal nerve roots. Also used to describe pain along the sciatic nerve that radiates down the leg.

spinal cord: part of the central nervous system enclosed and protected by the spinal vertebrae; conducts messages (impulses) back and forth between your brain and body to control sensation and movement.

vertebra (plural vertebrae): 1 of 33 bones that form the spinal column. From top to bottom, there are 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 4 coccygeal vertebrae. The top 24 bones are moveable.

updated > 09.2018
reviewed by > Banita Bailey, RN, Mayfield Clinic, Cincinnati, Ohio

Mayfield Certified Health Info materials are written and developed by the Mayfield Clinic. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. This information is not intended to replace the medical advice of your health care provider.

Numbness and Tingling

“Numbness” is classified as the reduction or absence of feeling. It is a bothersome symptom but rarely painful. A tingling sensation is a funny feeling that is often referred to as “pins and needles.” It is often not painful but rather annoying and uncomfortable. When hand numbness and/or tingling symptoms occur, it is often caused by an entrapment of the nerves and/or blood vessels, often producing a clumsy or weak feeling in the upper extremity.

Subject to the area of compression, nerve entrapment symptoms can include complaints of numbness, tingling and/or pain in the hand, wrist, or fingers. Weakness and tenderness in the hand and/or elbow may also occur. In severe cases, weakness in gripping and difficulty in finger coordination may develop.

Your skin is filled with many tiny nerve endings that send messages about sensation to the brain. When these sensations are altered by a compressed nerve, inflammation or reduced blood flow, the skin may feel a prickling or tingling sensation. This is often a pre-warning of worse things to come, such as muscle-loss to the hands and arm that can sometimes occur. Often these symptoms are overlooked until the annoyance becomes a nuisance in your everyday activities or sleep habits.

Numbness in hands can be caused by a number of different diagnoses. At Hand to Shoulder Center of Wisconsin, our sub-specialty trained physicians treat all conditions of the upper extremity caused by a nerve entrapment and/or blood vessel condition. Our physicians evaluate and explore prior hand, wrist, and arm injuries and all medical conditions to assist in determining the cause of your numb hands and/or tingling in fingers. Additional testing such as a nerve conduction study (EMG) along with x-rays may be ordered. Although many diagnoses are possible, carpal tunnel syndrome tends to be one of the more popular diagnoses of tingling in hands. A number of other conditions seen at Hand to Shoulder Center of Wisconsin that serve as the differential diagnosis for numbness in fingertips and hand tingling includes:

  • Brachial plexus injury – the brachial plexus is the network of nerves that sends sensations from the spine to the shoulder to the hand.
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome – nerves from the brachial plexus passes through the thoracic outlet, which is composed of 3 passageways between the neck and shoulder. These spaces become smaller due to poor posture, poor body alignment or tight musculature of the neck, causing the nerves and blood vessels to become compressed.
  • Ganglion cyst – a fluid-filled mass that lies beneath the skin that may cause compression to the nerves and/or blood flow.
  • Peripheral neuropathy – this often occurs with systemic disorders such as diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy most often causes numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, but is managed medically.
  • Raynaud’s disease – a condition that affects the hands causing numbness and coolness in response to cold temperatures or stress.
  • Ulnar nerve compression – a condition that occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed, pinched or irritated; when this occurs on the inside of the elbow, it is referred to as “cubital tunnel syndrome”; when it occurs in the wrist, it’s called “Guyon’s canal” or “ulnar tunnel”.
  • Vasculitis – an inflammation of your blood vessels.
  • Bone spurs – calcium deposits form on bone matter that may rub against other bones or nearby soft tissues possibly causing compression to the nerves and/or blood flow.
  • Previous or present fracture conditions that may be causing an acute compression on a nerve or blood vessel.

Treatment

Subject to the diagnosis and the level of the symptoms, non-surgical recommendations for mild symptoms may include modification of daily activities, bracing and splinting/orthotic management. Physical and occupation therapy is often ordered to address the patient’s mechanics, soft tissue status and neural mobility. If swelling is present, hands-on manual therapy can assist with the circulation of fluids to decrease swelling to provide relief for nerves and other structures being compressed. Tendon gliding may also be used to decrease compression and enhance blood flow along with exercising postural management and education on compression syndromes may be addressed. Strengthening and stretching, which is included as part of occupational or physical therapy program will help to assist in restoring proper function.

If conservative actions fail, a surgical procedure may be recommended (Fig. 1-2). Surgeries are performed at Woodland Surgery Center or one of the three Fox Valley hospital locations.

Figure 1: Ten days post carpal tunnel surgery

Figure 2: Two years post carpal tunnel surgery

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7 Possible Left Shoulder Numbness Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced left shoulder numbness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Repetitive strain injury of the shoulder (“swimmer’s shoulder”)

Repetitive strain injury of the shoulder is caused by consistent repetitive use.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: shoulder pain from overuse, shoulder weakness, shoulder numbness

Symptoms that always occur with repetitive strain injury of the shoulder (“swimmer’s shoulder”): shoulder pain from overuse

Symptoms that never occur with repetitive strain injury of the shoulder (“swimmer’s shoulder”): severe shoulder pain, shoulder injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

Brachial plexopathy (shoulder nerve issue)

The brachial plexus is a web of nerves between the neck and shoulder, connecting the spinal cord nerves to the arm. There is one web on each side of the neck. Any injury that forces the shoulder to stretch down, and the neck to stretch up and away, can damage these nerves and cause brachial plexopathy.

Sports injuries and car accidents are often involved. Inflammation, tumors, and radiation treatment can also damage the brachial plexus.

Milder symptoms include numbness and weakness in the arm, with a shocklike stinging or burning sensation. A more severe injury can cause paralysis and loss of feeling in the arm, with pain in some parts of the arm, hand, and shoulder.

These symptoms should be seen by a medical provider since permanent damage can result if the injuries are not treated.

Diagnosis is made through electromyography (EMG) testing, CT scan, MRI, and sometimes angiogram.

Treatment usually involves rest and physical therapy. Surgery may be necessary to remove scar tissue or repair the damaged nerves.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: pain in one arm, shoulder pain that shoots to the arm, arm weakness, numbness in one arm, shoulder pain

Symptoms that never occur with brachial plexopathy (shoulder nerve issue): pain in the front middle part of the neck

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Pinched nerve in the neck

A pinched nerve in the neck is also called cervical radiculopathy. It means that a nerve in the neck, at a point where it branches off from the spinal cord, is being compressed by the surrounding bones, muscles, or other tissues.

It can be caused by a traumatic injury, such as from sports or an automobile accident, especially if the injury results in a herniated disk. It may also arise from the normal wear and tear of aging.

Symptoms include sharp, burning pain with numbness and tingling from the neck to the shoulder, as well as weakness and numbness into the arm and hand.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and simple neurological tests to check the reflexes. Imaging such as x-ray, CT scan, or MRI may be done, as well as electromyography to measure nerve impulses in the muscles.

A pinched nerve in the neck often improves with simply a few days or weeks of rest. Physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroid injections into the spine can all be very helpful.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain that radiates down arm, pain in the back of the neck, severe shoulder pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Left Shoulder Numbness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your left shoulder numbness

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition of numbness and tingling in the hand and arm caused by compression of the mediannerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel. Causes include overuse of the wrist and hand, especially highly repetitive activities such as typing or wo…

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a set of chronic symptoms that include ongoing fatigue, diffuse tenderness to touch, musculoskeletal pain, and usually some degree of depression.

The cause is not known. When fibromyalgia appears, it is usually after a stressful physical or emotional event such as an automobile accident or a divorce. It may include a genetic component where the person experiences normal sensation as pain.

Almost 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. Anyone with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more prone to fibromyalgia.

Poor sleep is often a symptom, along with foggy thinking, headaches, painful menstrual periods, and increased sensitivity to heat, cold, bright lights, and loud noises.

There is no standard test for fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made when the above symptoms go on for three months or more with no apparent cause.

Fibromyalgia does not go away on its own but does not get worse, either.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache

Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia: arthralgias or myalgias

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Thoracic outlet syndrome

The “thoracic outlet” is the space on either side of the base of the neck where nerves, arteries, and veins travel beneath the collarbone. If these become compressed or damaged, the condition is called thoracic outlet syndrome or TOS.

The most common causes are trauma, such as a car accident or fall; and repetition or overuse, such as a sports injury.

Symptoms vary depending on the structures being compressed:

  • Neurogenic TOS affects the nerves. It is the most common form and creates numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the arms, hand, and fingers.
  • Vascular TOS affects the arteries and veins. It creates the same symptoms as neurogenic TOS as well as cold, pale hands and arms with weak pulse.

It is important to see a medical provider about these symptoms so that the damage does not become permanent.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, imaging such as x-ray or ultrasound, and sometimes nerve conduction and blood flow studies.

Treatment involves physical therapy, pain relievers, and sometimes surgery.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, arm weakness, arm numbness, pain in one shoulder blade

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the feeling of numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensation in the feet. Idiopathic means the cause is not known, and chronic means the condition is ongoing without getting better or worse.

The condition is most often found in people over age 60. Idiopathic neuropathy has no known cause.

Symptoms include uncomfortable numbness and tingling in the feet; difficulty standing or walking due to pain and lack of normal sensitivity; and weakness and cramping in the muscles of the feet and ankles.

Peripheral neuropathy can greatly interfere with quality of life, so a medical provider should be seen in order to treat the symptoms and reduce the discomfort.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination; blood tests to rule out other conditions; and neurologic and muscle studies such as electromyography.

Treatment involves over-the-counter pain relievers; prescription pain relievers to manage more severe pain; physical therapy and safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation in the feet; and therapeutic footwear to help with balance and walking.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Why is my shoulder, arm, or hand tingling? What do I do about it?

There are many reasons why you might be getting numbness or tingling sensations in your arm. You have nerves that exit from your cervical spine (neck) and travel the entire length of your arm. At any point along that nerve, you might experience compression of your nerves. The following is a list of possible reasons or structures that could be causing numbness or tingling:

cervical radiculopathy (nerve compression at your cervical spine), thoracic outlet syndrome (compression at your pectoralis minor muscle, scalene muscles, compression between your first rib and collar bone, compression from a tight anterior capsule of your shoulder), cubital tunnel syndrome (compression of the nerve at your elbow), carpal tunnel syndrome (compression at your wrist), and from trigger points of certain rotator cuff muscles.

Today, I will go over one quick self-treatment that works great and provides relief fast! Keep in mind, this may not work for everyone since the list of possible causes of numbness is so vast.

Who is most likely to benefit from this treatment?

– If you have difficulty reach behind your back

– If you have tenderness while pushing on the back side of your shoulder blade.

– If you don’t have atrophy/weakness, and your nerve reflexes are normal.

– If you can rule out any of the other conditions listed above.

Pressure Point/Trigger Point Release Technique

As far as equipment goes, all you need is a lacrosse ball or tennis ball to help perform the massage technique. What you want to do is place the ball on the back side of your shoulder blade and gently squish it between you and your body.

Part 1: In the first part of this technique, look for a sore or tender spot. Many people refer to this as a knot. Find the worst or most painful knot.

Part 2: Gently massage the knot by leaning against the ball and into the wall. I want to emphasize that this should be performed gently. Move the ball in a crisscross pattern directly on top of the sore spot. Do this for 1-2 minutes.

Part 3: Stop massaging, but maintain a constant and gentle pressure over the sore knot. As the pain and tingling start to subside, gradually add a little more pressure. Repeat this process until you get your desired result.

If you have questions, or if this technique didn’t work for you, please give us a call at 719-565-6678 or come to one of my Free workshops so we can help find the root cause of your problem and get you back to what you enjoy doing.

Tingling in Head: Causes, Treatment, and Related Conditions

Most of the conditions that cause tingling in the head aren’t serious. In rare cases, head tingling can be a sign of a serious medical problem.

Colds and sinus infections (sinusitis)

The sinuses are a series of connected cavities behind your nose, cheeks, and forehead. Infections such as colds, flus, and sinusitis can cause the sinuses to become swollen and inflamed. Enlarged sinuses can compress nearby nerves, leading to head tingling.

Migraines and other headaches

Migraines cause intense throbbing or pulsing pain on one or both sides of the head. Changes in blood flow and pressure in the head may result in tingling. A migraine aura occurs before a migraine. It can cause sensory symptoms, such as tingling, typically in the face.

Other headaches that may trigger head tingling include:

  • tension headaches
  • cluster headaches
  • eyestrain headaches

Stress or anxiety

Stress can sometimes lead to tingling in the head. Stressful situations activate your body’s fight-or-flight response. Stress hormones, such as norepinephrine, direct blood to the areas of the body that need it most. As a result, you might experience tingling or a lack of sensation in other areas.

Head injuries

Injuries that impact the base of the skull can damage nerves inside the brain. This can lead to symptoms such as facial paralysis, numbness, or tingling. Injuries directly to the nerves responsible for the sensation to the head may also cause tingling or numbness in the injured area.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a common metabolic disorder associated with high blood sugar. Over time, untreated diabetes can lead to nerve damage. Although cranial nerve damage is less common, older adults who have diabetes can develop it. It can cause numbness in the face and other areas of the head.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

MS is a chronic, degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. Tingling and numbness are common symptoms. They can affect the face, neck, and other parts of the head.

Epilepsy and seizures

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Certain types of seizures, such as simple partial seizures, can cause tingling in the face.

Infections that cause nerve damage

Bacterial and viral infections can affect the nerves in the head, triggering tingling and numbness in the head, face, and neck. Some of these conditions include:

  • hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Lyme disease
  • shingles
  • encephalitis

Autoimmune diseases that cause nerve damage

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. Sometimes, the nerves in the brain are affected, leading to head or face tingling. Some autoimmune conditions that cause head tingling include:

  • fibromyalgia
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • lupus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren syndrome

Drugs and other substances

Tingling or numbness in the head can be a side effect of some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or anticonvulsants. Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can also cause head tingling.

Neurodegenerative conditions

Neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, are characterized by neuron damage or loss. Some of these conditions can cause tingling in the head.

Other conditions

A number of other conditions can cause head tingling, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • hypothyroidism
  • poor posture
  • stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • brain tumors

Tingling Face

What is tingling face?

Tingling face, a feeling of “pins and needles” in your face, can have many causes. Tingling face is a result of nerve dysfunction or nerve damage. It can be the result of an injury to the face or exposure to cold temperatures. Alternatively, tingling face may be caused by neuropathy, a disorder in which the nerves that relay signals between the body and the brain do not function properly. Multiple sclerosis is an example of a chronic condition that can result in tingling of the face.

Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can be due to a number of specific diseases and disorders. In many cases, neuropathy has no known cause. In rare cases, if the tingling face is accompanied by numbness or weakness of the arms or legs on one side of the body, it can be a sign of stroke. Tingling of the face can also result from injury or, rarely, tumors of the brain or nerves.

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The duration and course of tingling face vary widely, depending on the cause. Symptoms caused by injury often have a sudden onset. In other cases, tingling face resulting from underlying neuropathy develops slowly and persists or worsens over time.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if a sudden tingling face sensation is accompanied by numbness or weakness on one side of your body; a change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness; or the worst headache of your life, as these can be signs of stroke.

If your tingling face is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

What other symptoms might occur with tingling face?

Tingling face may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the face also involve other body systems.

Face symptoms that may occur along with tingling face

Tingling face may accompany other symptoms affecting the face including:

  • Blistering

  • Burning feeling

  • Heightened sensation

  • Numbness or tingling

  • Pain

  • Paralysis

  • Redness, warmth or swelling

Other symptoms that may occur along with tingling face

Tingling face may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

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  • Changes in sensation

  • Difficulty walking

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch

  • Impaired coordination

  • Muscle weakness

  • Nerve pain

  • Numbness or tingling in other areas of the body

  • Pain when walking

  • Sharp pain that may be worse at night

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

Sudden tingling face accompanied by numbness or weakness on one side of the body can be a sign of stroke. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have tingling face along with other serious symptoms including:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness

  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions

  • Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak

  • Paralysis or inability to move a body part

  • Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain

  • Worst headache of your life

What causes tingling face?

Tingling face can be the result of peripheral nerve or skin damage to the face and surrounding tissues. Disorders affecting the nerves, such as peripheral neuropathy and stroke, may also cause tingling face.

Common causes of tingling face

Tingling face may be caused by multiple conditions including:

  • Exposure to cold

  • Exposure to toxic or poisonous compounds

  • Face trauma or injury

  • Pressure on nerve or nerve entrapment

Certain diseases and conditions may at times cause tingling face including:

  • Exposure to toxins

  • Migraine

  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord causing weakness, coordination, balance difficulties, and other problems)

  • Shingles (reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which remains in the body in an inactive state following chickenpox)

  • Vitamin deficiency

Serious or life-threatening causes of tingling face

In some cases, tingling face may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Brain or nerve tumors

  • Severe head injury

  • Stroke

  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of tingling face

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your tingling face including:

  • How long have you felt tingling in your face?

  • Where do you feel your face tingling?

  • Do you have any other symptoms?

  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of tingling face?

Because tingling face can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Brain damage (if your tingling face is due to a stroke)

  • Paralysis

  • Permanent nerve damage

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