Tingling (paresthesia) or numbness in your fingers is a common symptom that many don’t take seriously. It may seem mildly annoying or even funny at times. Most people at some time have experienced that sensation when we wake up in an odd position and find that our arm is numb, dead or lifeless. We can flail it around it and it moves as if it weren’t a part of our body anymore. We can smack it against the wall and still, we don’t feel any pain. In this situation, we are experiencing a nerve impingement from lying in a way that almost all nerve signals to the arm are being blocked. Luckily, this happens rarely for most people and disappears as soon as we wake up and start moving around. The tingling or numbness we may feel in our fingertips on cold days or possibly every day is a less severe but more permanent type of nerve impingement that many of us suffer from.
To understand how this works, think of a nerve as a garden hose. Its job is to carry nerve signals or water to the muscles or garden. If we step on the hose with all of our weight, we can cut off the water or nerve supply completely. If we step on it a little bit, we can cut off a percentage of the water or nerve supply. Consider that our garden needs water and that completely cutting off the water supply for a long period of time will kill everything that grows in the garden. By the same token, restricting the water supply by 50% would have effects as well. It may take more time, but eventually the plants may grow smaller than normal, or some may die off.
Our bodies are similar. If the nerve supply to our arm is restricted or pinched for a long period of time we may notice that the affected arm has less strength, its muscles seem smaller, and it is more prone to injury or pain than the unaffected arm. Often people with nerve impingements may develop tendonitis (ie. tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow) before they ever notice any serious tingling or numbness.
I can perform some simple orthopedic tests to see if you are suffering from a nerve impingement and offer a treatment plan of massage, acupuncture and postural re-education to help relieve impingements such as carpal tunnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome and restore normal nerve functioning.