Pins and Needles
Have you ever experienced a strange sensation in your arms, legs, hands, or feet? If you have, there is a good chance the problem was originating from somewhere else, often the spine. To be clear, this will not be a conversation about the “normal” pins and needles sensation you get from a circulatory issue, such as sitting in an awkward position and having your leg fall asleep. Sensations such as pins and needles, numbness, burning, stabbing, or aching are common results of pressure on nerves in the neck or lower back.
Fascinatingly, the surface of the body has been mapped because nerves have specific patterns of where they go. These patterns are known as dermatomes (see image). An example of dermatomes can be seen in individuals with shingles: during a shingles attack, a nerve gets affected by a virus and the skin affected by that nerve can erupt with painful sores in a particular pattern.
Arguably the largest benefit from chiropractic comes from the freeing up of nerves. When the spine becomes misaligned from trauma, strain, or stress it puts pressure on nerves like a rock on a hose. A chiropractic adjustment can relieve this pressure and allow the body to heal and perform at its best.
The nerves that exit the spine from the neck (the cervical spine from C1 – T1) go to the upper back, face, scalp, arms, and hands. When nerves are under pressure in the neck, it is common for sensations such as numbness, burning, pins and needles, or stabbing pain to be experienced in areas ranging from the shoulders, face, or even hands and specific fingers.
The nerves that exit the spine from the lower back (the lumbar spine and sacrum from L5 – S5) go to the pelvis, buttocks, legs, and feet. Common issues and symptoms of nerve pressure in this region are sciatica, stenosis, weakness such as legs buckling or drop foot, and, as above, sensations such as pain, numbness, and burning, pins and needles, etc..
Symptoms often begin mildly with arms or legs going numb during sleep or in specific positions. This warning sign is often the result of a disc bulge pushing on a nerve. Over time, if left untreated, disc issues can worsen. Disc bulges can turn into a herniation, which puts even greater pressure on nerves and can result in disabling pain and inability to use the affected limb/s. Disc issues are slow to heal because they lack significant blood supply. Even problems with shoulders, wrists, knees, and feet are often attributed to problems at the spine. It’s ideal to catch these misalignments in the early stages or, better yet, prevent them; often problems are present before symptoms start.
Prevention and Treatment:
Disc injuries such as degenerative disc disease, disc herniation (sometimes referred to as a slipped disc), and pain originating from weakened or bulging discs can result from trauma or repetitive strain. The best ways to prevent disc problems are to lift, sit, and move properly and to keep the spine in proper alignment with chiropractic, stretching, and exercise. Spinal decompression in particular is a terrific way to help discs heal. Decompression draws blood into damaged discs which allows healing to occur more quickly. To learn more about chiropractic, spinal decompression, and specific stretches, exercises, and dietary recommendations for a healthier spine and nervous system please visit the video section of my Facebook page or explore my blog.
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