Can a pinched nerve affect both arms/hands?

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Kevlar
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2017
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 2/26/2017 1:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Long time reader, first time poster. I'm a 45-year-old man who has always prided himself with being fit. I've participated in a running and weightlifting regimen since I was 15 years old. I joined the military at 18 and of course had to stay fit for nine years of service, I was then employed by a federal law-enforcement agency at 27 and I've also had a fitness requirement with my employment ever since. Long story short, I've been relatively fit my entire life and never overweight.

I have had neck/trap issues for years though. As far back as 2007, I remember getting an occasional lock up of my neck and having it treated with E-stim and manipulation by a chiropractor and it always seem to get better with time.

I had a particularly difficult time in 2011 2012 with my neck as I had chronic trap tightness, really, really tight and was in misery just holding my head up. I had an MRI that had minimal findings and then had another MRI shortly after that had what appeared to be a little bit worse findings.. This resolved with time and deep tissue massage.

I'LL PASTE THOSE RESULTS AT THE END

Fast forward to a few months ago, as an manager I no longer work in the field, and I spend a lot of time at a desk with a mouse in my hand. Six or seven months ago, I noticed my right hand would get a little tingly and so I started switching mouse-hands and alternating. This was the solution for a while and I didn't give it much more thought other than maybe it was just an overuse syndrome.

Fast forward to approximately a month ago, while moving from Texas to Florida and driving down the interstate, noticed my right arm was kind of feeling like I was asleep on the steering wheel. It continued upon my arrival but seemed to be very minimal.

I want to see a neurologist in Palm Beach and he gave me the standard neurologist test with reflexes etc. and said I didn't have any neurological symptoms. He scheduled an EMG and I returned and got poked and zapped and he said you have a very slight carpal tunnel in both hands and that is your problem, but I disagreed with him and told him I really believed this was coming from my neck and he dismissed me and didn't want to talk about it anymore.

That was mid January. I'm not sure is progressing any worse from day to day per se, but it is definitely worse than it was when I got here a month and a half ago as I now have numbness in my right hand and my left, but not usually at the same time, and not following any particular pattern like the last two fingers or the first two fingers.

I'm really not having any pain to speak of, just a little aggravating pain at times in my lower neck upper back area where I've always had aggravation and tightness and it seems to be focused there, it's just that my hands are constantly falling asleep to one degree or another, usually when I'm doing something with my hands out in front of me like typing on a keyboard, or an iPad, or writing on a piece of paper.

Most of the time it is just numbness in one hand or another, not the whole hand just part of it but not following any pattern. Sometimes though, in the late afternoons, and evenings, especially if I've been messing with it and trying to stretch, my whole right arm from the shoulder down will ache something crazy, and then it will dissipate and go away and a little numbness will set in again.

There is a self-stretch on the Internet that I watched a video of, where you tuck your chin not down, but straight back. When my right arm is really acting up, (achy/numb) if I do this stretch, like magic I'll regain feeling in my arm almost immediately. It doesn't last for long though the feeling comes back shortly thereafter.

One thing of interest that I have to mention, is that I'm very careful about how I sleep, on my back with a thin pillow and I sleep very well and wake up feeling very good. I feel so good in the morning with hands not numb and no pain at all that I really don't even want to get up, and I fantasize while there in bed that all my troubles will be gone. Shortly thereafter the while brushing my teeth I'll feel the numbness creep back into my fingers usually my left hand first.

Another thing of interest is other than slightly achy at the base of my neck at odd times and usually my hands are not numb when the neck is achy, my neck feels great! I can touch my ear to my shoulder and my chin to my chest or rotate my head all the way around with no pain at all in my neck or anywhere else. In some ways, my neck feels better than it ever has...yet the numbness and achiness in my right shoulder and upper arm is very aggravating.

I do have an appointment with the Palm Beach Orthopedic Center on Wednesday. My sister had surgery there for a shoulder problem and loved the experience and they have two spinal specialists on staff and the one of the most highly thought of practices in the area. I expect when I tell the doctor of my experience she is going to order an MRI and I'll be going from there I guess. I am very curious how this next MRI is going to compare with the MRIs I had in 2011 2012 as they really showed nothing significant.

Doing a lot of reading one of the biggest concerns for me right now is if this was just a pinched nerve it would be affecting one arm or the other but not both, which makes me think there's more involved here.

I just don't understand how i'll have numb fingertips on my left hand in the morning and achy right arm or numb finger tips on my right hand in the afternoon.

And of course I'm thinking worst-case scenario and major, possibly career ending surgery.

Anyone have any food for thought?

Similar experiences?

Opinion, advice, conjecture?

MRI FINDINGS FROM YEARS PAST

First MRI, 2011

C2-3 Normal
C3-4 Very minimal disc bulge without neural encroachment
C4-5 Minimal disc bulge without neural encroachment. Minimal right neural foraminal narrowing
C5-6 Minimal disk bulge without neural encroachement. Minimal right neural foraminal narrowing
C6-7 There is minimal disc bulge. There may be a tiny middling annular tear without neural encroachment
C7 Normal

Second MRI, 2012

C2-C3 No significant disc bulge or protrusion visualized, No evidence of neural encroachment
C3-C4 Minimal disc dessication and disc bulge without significant neural encroachment
C4-C5 Disc mildly dessicated with loss of disc heights. There is a small, broad based right paracentral disc protrusion that does efface the thecal sac anteriorly and partially extends into the right neural foramina, resulting in moderate right foraminal narrowing. This is more conspicuous when compared to previous exam.
C5-C6 The disc is moderately dessicated with loss of disc height. There is a broad-based right paracentral disc protrusion that effaces the thecal sac anteriorly. There is mild central canal stenosis with AP dimension of the thecal sac measuring 9mm. The disc protrusion may have a small overlying osteophyte and does result in moderate narrowing of the right neural foramina. This is more conspicuous with compared the previous exa,m.
C6-C7 The disc is mildly dessicated. There is a broad based left paracentral disc protrusion with small annular tear that does efface the thecal sac anteriorly. No central canal stenosis is present. There is very mild narrowing of the left neural foramina.

Post Edited (Kevlar) : 2/26/2017 1:14:19 PM (GMT-7)


pitmom
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2015
Total Posts : 2098
   Posted 2/26/2017 7:18 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to the forum. I'm not a doctor but I've had a few MRI's myself and what I see is...you are getting older. Take just about anyone and do an MRI a year apart and you will pretty much see the same type of changes.

That being said, it is great that you are 'in tune' with your body and it telling you something isn't right.

I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. The left one had the release surgery but not much has changed after, which is why I didn't go through with it on my dominant right hand. "Mousing" definitely makes it worse. The fact that you say you alternate hands pretty much would explain why you are experiencing pain and numbness in both hands now. You also might want an MRI of the wrists/hands as you may be developing ganglion cysts there as well, which can cause similar symptoms.

Your neck/trap pain may be coincidental since you are at a computer for extended periods of time. I've found trigger point injections to be helpful when my trap locks up. Too many days I've not been able to hold my own head up straight from muscle 'exhaustion'.

Keep posting and let us know what you find.
multiple surgeries for rotator cuff both shoulders with residual chronic impingement syndrome, ulnar nerve transposition, carpal tunnel release, wrist ganglionectomies/denervectomies/tenolysis, multiple herniated discs, tarlov cyst, whiplash, bursitis of hips, tendonitis, torus, 3rd degree shoulder separation, torn labrum, ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors of the uterus

Kevlar
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2017
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 2/26/2017 7:39 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks, but this is absolutely not carpal tunnel syndrome.

The fact that I can push my chin back temporarily relieve the aching burning sensation in my arm tells me it is spinal..

I should know something more after the MRI..

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 14955
   Posted 2/26/2017 9:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello & welcome to the forum. Granted none of us are drs here but the prior MRI's did not reveal anything that jumps out. It will be interesting to see what a current MRI comes up with. Once you get the results of the MRI you many want to consider getting a consult with a neurosurgeon. They read MRI's every day & it would be worth while to get one's take on things. I am in no way suggesting you may need surgery, but a good one can recommend options for treatment without surgery.

I know you do not believe the carpal tunnel is your problem, however carpal tunnel symptoms can have some role in what is going on with your arms. The EMG study showed mild CTS. That test is what is used to dx it. In other words your symptoms can be related to both conditions.

Hopefully you can get this sorted out soon. Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

(Seashell)
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2012
Total Posts : 660
   Posted 2/27/2017 1:05 AM (GMT -6)   
You may have a high degree of muscular tension in your upper back/scapular area that is contributing to transient nerve entrapment and the symptoms that you are describing.

The fact that you recently moved a long distance contributes to stress and to muscular co-contraction and tension. Thoracic-outlet syndrome is one such condition where hyper-sensitive muscle tension leads to neurological symptoms of the upper extremities.

You have a desk job where you likely sit with a rounded and forward posture of the cervical and thoracic spine - which can cause entrapment of the cervical nerve root.

And, finally, beware of the risks of chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine. There are high risks associated with cervical spine manipulation.

When I was working as a hands on physical therapist by profession and I have witnessed, first hand, the devastating effects of cervical spine manipulation gone awry. Your symptoms may be the result of repeated cervical spine manipulation. High velocity manipulation effectively disrupts the air-tight seal of the cervical spine disc space. Cervical spine manipulation is traumatic to the disc space. Degenerative arthritis, spurring, nerve root entrapment, disc protrusion - this and more can result from chiropractic manipulation. My strongest of advice to you is to curtail further chiropractic cervical spine manipulation.
- Karen -

Post Edited By Moderator (straydog) : 2/27/2017 9:59:29 AM (GMT-7)


Kevlar
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2017
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 2/27/2017 5:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the great replies all. Interestingly enough, today I did not have much numbness in my hands, and was pretty excited about this this morning, however my left lower leg and foot seem a little numb today and I tripped over my left foot (i.e. didn't pick it up high enough) twice today in the office which is unusual for me. Being athletic, I pick up my feet and walk spritely. The first time it happened this morning on the carpet, I looked down to see what I tripped over, but I didn't think much of it. This afternoon however, I tripped over my left foot again on a hard tiled floor and that was pretty odd. I did have some of the typical lightly burning in radiating pain in between my shoulder blades off and on today, but that is not unusual for me.

Kevlar
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2017
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 3/3/2017 4:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Well my MRI results are back and I don't understand a darn word of it, other than I've got quite a few "moderate-severe" foraminal narrowings and a "contact, compress, and impinge on the existing left C7 nerve root." which sounds really bad..

Of course, doctor can't discuss with me until my appt 2 weeks from now..

Can anyone answer if this terminology means a bulge? or herniation?

"there is a superimposed left posterolateral disc protrusion measuring 11 x 4 x 3 mm.


C2/3 - Unremarkable

C3/4 concentric uncovertebral hypertrophy (2mm) with facet hypertrophy and ligamenta flava laxity produces slight central canal narrowing, slight right neural foraminal narrowing and slight left neural foraminal narrowing. There is a posterior superimposed central disk ostephyte complex ( 5 x3 x 3 mm) that partially effaces the ventral aspect of the cord. The Cord exhibits no abnormal signal at this level.

C4/5 concentric uncovertebral hypertrophy (2mm) with facet hypertrophy and ligamenta flava laxity produces slight central canal narrowing, mild-moderate right neural foraminal narrowing and slight left neural foraminal narrowing. There is a superimposedd right posterolateral disc ostephyte complex that partially effaces the right ventral subarachnoid space, contacting and slightly flattening the right ventral aspect of the cord. The cord exhibits no abnormal signal at this level.

C5/6 concentric uncovertebral hypertrophy (5mm) eccentric to the right in conjuinction with facet hypertrophy and ligamenta flava laxity produces mild central canal narrowing, moderate-severe right neural foraminal narrowing and mild left neural foraminal narrowing. There is a superimposed right posterolateral disc ostephyte complex that partially effaces the right ventral subarachnoid space, contacting and slightly flattening the right ventral aspect of the cord. The cord exhibits no abnormal signal at this level.

C6/7 concentric uncovertebral hypertrophy (3mm). There is a superimposed left posterolateral disc protrusion measuring 11 x 4 x 3 mm. This occupies much of the left C6-7 neural foramen and appears to contact, compress, and impinge on the existing left C7 nerve root. This contributes to moderate left neural foraminal narrowing, mild central canal and mild right neural foraminal narrowing.

C7/T1 - Unremarkable

Post Edited (Kevlar) : 3/3/2017 4:19:53 PM (GMT-7)


straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 14955
   Posted 3/4/2017 9:47 AM (GMT -6)   
Kevlar, keep in mind we are not radiologists or drs but the last 2 levels appear to be the ones with some issues. I would imagine all of the weight lifting has contributed to many of the finding on the MRI. You have some bulging disc going on along with the spurs. C6/7 indicates a nerve being compressed too. If this were me, I would have my pcp refer me to the best neurosurgeon on my insurance plan. Neurosurgeons have more expertise in dealing with nerve issues involving the spine. I am not saying you need surgery, but a good neuro will give options.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Kevlar
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2017
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 3/8/2017 8:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Many thanks for the great replies..

My Ortho is pushing me into physical therapy for now..and told me quote: "your mri on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst) is a "3" in my opinion.

The fact that my right arm is near useless because any use brings on arm aching and pain, says I have a problem that needs fixing..

The physical therapist I saw today, is having me do traditional Thoracic Outlet Syndrome exercises which is what she seems to believe my arm problem is. All I know for sure, is after her exercises, my arm hurts worse than before we started.

I have the MRI disk in hand though and a second consult with a neurosurgeon on Friday.

I'm not anxious to go under any knife and frankly, scared as hell about that prospect, but as a fit/athletic 45 year old who can't feel the buttons on my dress shirt when I'm buttoning up in the morning and can't wash the dishes or hang a picture on the wall without discomfort and arm pain, I need some resolution and am not ready to just settle for this being my future..

White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3667
   Posted 3/8/2017 8:44 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Kevlar I agree with straydog, I would recommend you see a board certified neurosurgeon and have him check you and your MRI out. Have you seen a neurologist and had an EMG or nerve conduction study done? I would think that they would have done that with the symptoms your describing! Anyway it would be wise to get a second or even a third opinion, especially if your still having problems and not getting any satisfaction from the doctor you've seen.

Good Luck to You!

White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
USAF retired in Sept.1991. I went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, I worked on Oncology and Med Surg, Disabled in late 1999, was approved SSD in early 2002! Diagnosed with: DDD and Multiple herniated Disks; Foraminotomy L3/4/5 Jan 2013; Posterior Articular Joint fusion Nov 2010; C5/6 ACDF Sep 2009; C6/7 ACDF 1985; Implanted pain Pump Jun 2014.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 14955
   Posted 3/9/2017 8:20 AM (GMT -6)   
I am very glad to see you have an appt with a neurosurgeon. It may well be necessary to even see a 2nd one for a consult. Please stick with neurosurgeons for your neck. I explained earlier in a post about their expertise.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums
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