If you’ve ever fallen asleep with your arm underneath you or sat on your foot until it went numb, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of numbness and “pins and needles” that follows. But what if these symptoms occur for no identifiable reason?
If you endure these symptoms frequently, constantly, or intermittently, you might be wondering what’s wrong or how you can get treatment.
First, you’ll need a medical evaluation to determine the source of your numbness and tingling. Here are some potential issues that can cause these symptoms:
- Nerve injury, damage, or compression. If your numbness and tingling are localized in one place, you might have a compressed or damaged nerve. For instance, numbness and tingling in one of your legs could be caused by compression of the sciatic nerve (also known as sciatica). You might also experience pain or a burning sensation, which sometimes alternates with numbness/tingling. Enlarged blood vessels, scar tissue, infections, and other sources of inflammation can all put pressure on nearby nerves, leading to these symptoms in any part of the body.
- Shingles, or a reactivated chickenpox infection. This can cause nerve inflammation, usually on only one side of the body. Many people with shingles have intense pain but may also experience numbness or tingling.
- Reduced blood flow to the area. Unlike sitting on your foot, this can happen without an external source of compression. Potential causes include atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), frostbite, and blood vessel issues.
- Nutritional deficiencies or other challenges. If you feel numbness/tingling all over or in different areas of the body, you might have a deficiency. The most common culprit is B12, which is needed for healthy nerve functioning, but sometimes people have issues with other B vitamins or minerals like zinc. An imbalance of electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and sodium can also cause numbness/tingling.
- Side effects or nerve damage from certain medications. We always ask about your current medications because sometimes they can lead to numbness or tingling as side effects. People who have taken chemotherapy or radiation may also have permanent nerve damage from these cancer treatments.
- Diabetes. This condition usually doesn’t cause nerve damage if your blood sugar is well-managed. However, some people struggle to keep their blood sugar at ideal levels, even with dietary changes and medication. Elevated blood sugar can cause changes in circulation, which puts you at a higher risk of nerve damage.
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon. This narrowing of blood vessels is frequently a symptom of an inflammatory condition like arthritis or an autoimmune disease, but occasionally it happens on its own. The main symptoms are numbness, tingling, and sometimes pain in the fingers, often triggered by exposure to cold.
- Underactive thyroid. There are multiple potential symptoms of thyroid problems, but sometimes numbness or tingling is the first one people notice. A blood test will show if your thyroid hormone levels are out of the typical range.
- Stroke. Sudden numbness (usually on one side of the body) is one of the signs of stroke, so it’s essential to seek medical attention right away if you have this symptom.
- Migraines. In addition to pain, migraines can cause numerous neurological side effects, such as visual disturbances and numbness/tingling.
What Numbness/Tingling Treatment Is Right for You?
The best way to answer this question is to see an experienced chiropractor at Optimum Health Rehab. We will review your medical records, ask about your occupation and activities, and discuss your symptoms.
This may include questions about how often you feel numbness/tingling, if any particular activities trigger these feelings, when your symptoms started, etc. Additionally, we may run tests such as a CT scan, an MRI, X-rays, nerve conduction studies, blood tests, and more.
Once we’ve diagnosed the problem, we will create a customized treatment plan to help with numbness, tingling, and other symptoms like pain. Many people benefit from multiple treatment options, although a few may achieve symptom relief with only one type of treatment.
Here are some of the possible therapies we may pursue depending on the root cause of your symptoms:
One frequent source of nerve compression is misaligned bones, or vertebrae, in the spine. These can happen for a wide variety of reasons – car accidents, sports injuries, heavy lifting, sitting or sleeping in an awkward position, tense muscles, poor posture, and more.
We’ll do our best to determine the cause of these spinal misalignments so you can avoid future problems, and we’ll also correct the problem with spinal manipulation.
What is spinal manipulation? This is a common practice of chiropractors.
We use a sudden, controlled force to move a joint out of its usual range of motion. In most cases, we do this to push vertebrae back into alignment with the rest of the spine, but occasionally we adjust other joints as well.
The process is not painful, and each adjustment usually takes only a few seconds. Often patients report feeling pain relief immediately, but some people may not see results for a few days or weeks.
Electrical Stimulation or E-Stim
E-Stim is a versatile treatment that can serve several functions. We may use an E-Stim unit for nerve conduction tests to determine if a particular nerve is diseased or damaged.
This process involves placing electrodes on the skin near the nerve in question and running a low-volt current from one electrode through the other. If the current moves more slowly than usual, this is generally a sign of nerve inflammation or damage.
E-Stim can also be used to stimulate muscle contracture and improve blood flow in injured areas. We might also use the currents to “wake up” a nerve if you mostly have numbness.
Finally, these devices are employed for pain relief in patients who don’t respond to other treatments. They can be set to a frequency that interferes with pain signals between the nerve and brain, diminishing your pain perception.
While chiropractic adjustments can often correct issues that put pressure on a nerve, a physical rehab specialist can help you avoid a recurrence. Your rehab specialist will work with you to determine how your daily activities affect your condition and suggest solutions.
Depending on the root cause or causes of your pain, they might recommend different options. Here are a few examples of how a physical therapist can help with numbness and tingling:
- If sitting at your office job has contributed to sciatic nerve pain, your therapist can show you exercises to help open up the spine and reduce sciatic nerve pain. They might also suggest more ergonomic chairs or possibly a standing desk. Another idea is to take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk around the room.
- If you have numbness and tingling in your hand from carpal tunnel syndrome (an entrapped nerve in the wrist), a rehab specialist could recommend a brace to keep the wrist straight while you work, in addition to exercises to improve blood flow. They may also propose changing the height of your desk chair or buying an ergonomic keyboard.
- Numbness or tingling in the arms can be caused by a pinched nerve in the neck or shoulders. A physical rehab specialist will work with you on exercises designed to improve mobility and blood flow in the neck.
- When you have a pinched nerve in your back from heavy lifting, a rehab specialist will help you find other ways to move items around, like a rolling cart that takes the strain off your back. They can also show you exercises to strengthen your back muscles and reduce the chances of spinal misalignment.
Are Numbness and Tingling Serious?
These symptoms usually indicate that damage is occurring in a nerve. If you ignore them, it’s possible you may suffer permanent nerve damage, in which case there will be far fewer treatment options.
You could even develop permanent numbness or tingling that is very difficult to treat. For this reason, we recommend taking numbness and tingling seriously and seeking medical attention right away.
How to Get Help With Numbness and Tingling in Hiram
Optimum Health Rehab is available to help diagnose and treat your numbness and tingling. Our skilled chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, and other medical experts will review your history, conduct an examination, and order tests as needed.
After completing this process, we’ll make a diagnosis and establish a treatment plan. As your treatment continues, we’ll monitor your progress and adjust the plan as needed.
There is no need to suffer from perplexing symptoms like numbness and tingling. Our helpful staff members are always happy to answer questions about insurance coverage or scheduling, so please call us today at (770)439-6997 to set up your consultation.