Pain isn’t the only thing that drives people to seek chiropractic care. A tingling sensation can also be very alarming. Many people use chiropractic care to get to the bottom of tingling that’s centralized in the neck and shoulders. What’s the cause for this strange symptom? Take a look at what you should know about tingling in your neck and shoulders.
The Two Types of Tingling
Tingling sensations aren’t universal. Most people describe tingling as an unpleasant or unusual sensation. It can either be persistent or intermittent. Generally, there are two types of tingling. Here’s a look:
- Paresthesia: This is often described as a feeling of “pins and needles.” It can mimic the sensation of a foot falling sleeping that most of us are familiar with. While you’re technically experiencing something that can be described as numbness, pain and sharpness are also present.
- Dysesthesia: This is the less common of the two. Dysesthesia can actually take on several different forms. Many people feel sensations of itching or burning on the skin. It can even feel like the area is tightening. In some cases, patients report an “electric shock” feeling.
- Primary tingling is often accompanied by numbness. While there is pain, there is often a certain “dullness” to the area.
- Muscle weakness is also common with tingling.
Both paresthesia and dysesthesia are technically “harmless” in the short term if they are caused by common injuries and strains. However, it is important to seek immediate medial attention if you experience sudden numbness or tingling anywhere on your body for more than a few minutes. This can be a symptom of a very serious event like a stroke. While most people who experience numbness and tingling won’t need to worry about a serious health emergency, they still shouldn’t ignore the issue. It’s important to get to the bottom of why numbness and tingling are occurring. In many cases, ignoring the problem allows an ongoing injury to get worse.
What Causes Numbness and Tingling?
The most common answer is a nerve impingement. Commonly referred to as a “pinched” nerve, a nerve impingement happens when too much pressure is forced on a nerve. Typically, it is the surrounding bone, muscle or cartilage creating the pressure. Some common conditions that are known to create nerve impingements include herniated discs, spinal stenosis and arthritis. There are some telltale signs that your tingling sensation is caused by a pinched nerve. Here’s a look at the common symptoms of a pinched nerve other than tingling:
- Pain that radiates throughout your spinal area.
- Headaches and migraines.
- Neck pain.
- Pain in the low back.
- Trouble sitting for long periods of time without pain.
- Reduced mobility caused by pain, discomfort or reduced range of motion.
- Muscle spasms.
A pinched nerve isn’t something that’s waiting to resolve itself. In fact, waiting around for a pinched nerve to heal can make you miserable. When you have a pinched nerve, the body is truly in “panic mode.” This is why people often experience painful spasms. All of the distress signals and inflammation being conveyed at the site of the compressed nerve actually make it hard for your body’s other systems to function properly. As a result, people with undiagnosed nerve compression often experience slow healing, aches and pain, inflammation and reduced immune function. The big takeaway on why a pinched nerve is so serious is that it actually reduces your body’s own ability to heal itself.
While a pinched nerve is the most obvious answer, there are actually dozens of other potential causes for tingling in the neck and shoulders. While some are related to spine and tissue health, others are linked to everything from lifestyle to chronic disease. Here’s a look at some of the causes that chiropractors commonly address:
- Spinal trauma.
- Myofascial adhesions.
- Trigger points in the muscles.
- Thoracic outlet syndrome.
- Scar tissue.
- Spinal-disc lesions.
In some cases, tingling can be related to diet and nutrition. Calcium deficiencies are notorious for causing tingling and numbness in the body. The same goes for a vitamin B12 deficiency. Of course, the idea that tingling is caused by a neurological or progressive disease should be discussed if no obvious cause is found. Tingling is often one of the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
How Is Tingling in the Neck and Shoulders Treated?
Once you’ve ruled out any serious or life-threatening conditions that could be causing tingling in your neck and shoulders, it’s time to get to the root of the problem. When you see a chiropractor, the goal is to determine the cause of the tingling sensation. This often includes an examination that could include some muscle tests, range-of-motion tests and imaging.
If an underlying issue is detected, the first course of action is to try to get rid of the cause of irritation or pressure that is causing tingling. This often includes correcting any misalignments or blockages that are impeding normal nerve function. The most important thing is often to relieve pressure from your nerves to restore oxygen and blood flow to the area. Of course, each treatment plan is tailored based on the specific cause of irritation or pressure.
Chiropractic adjustments often provide substantial relief. In addition, a chiropractor will go over your lifestyle and habits with you. It may be necessary to do some strengthening exercises or posture correction if your daily habits caused the impingement that produced tingling. In many cases, spending long hours “hunched” over a computer is responsible for nerve dysfunction. Repetitive movements, lifting heavy objects incorrectly and sports injuries can also contribute to nerve dysfunction.
Chiropractic care is widely regarded as an effective treatment for tingling in the body. In fact, this is the only way that many people eventually find relief. A study published on the chiropractic management of a patient with ulnar nerve compression symptoms shows results that are very typical. In this study, a 41-year-old women experienced telltale signs of weakness and numbness in her forearm and fingers. The care providers were able to detect protracted shoulders and moderate forward head carriage that pointed to nerve compression. Once the determination was made, a protocol consisting of manipulative therapy, myofascial therapy and elastic therapeutic taping was followed. The patient was also instructed on how to use better posture and workstation ergonomics to relieve pressure. Again, this is very typical of how a standard case of compression is treated.
You may be curious to know how long it takes to get relief from tingling caused by a nerve compression. In this case, the patient was given an 11-session plan to follow. The specific duration of treatment varies by patient in a real-world chiropractic setting. However, most patients begin to feel relief long before the final session regardless of how many sessions are scheduled. In fact, many patients report immediate relief after the first session before seeing more and more relief with subsequent sessions. In another published study, a 24-year-old woman with a history of intermittent right-arm paresthesia saw improvement with a short course of chiropractic care consisting of manipulation, vibration therapy and cold laser therapy. After showing improvement in paresthesia after the first visit, she was fully free of symptoms after two visits.
Another thing that the first study has in common with a typical chiropractic experience is that patient education was provided regarding better posture and workstation practices. Patient education is a hallmark of the chiropractic experience because of the whole-body connections that chiropractors encourage their patients to make when healing pain and injury. Understanding the connection between physical pain and overall health is a life-changing thing for many who seek chiropractic care!
Should You See a Chiropractor for Tingling in Your Neck and Shoulders?
First, rule out a major medical emergency. If you’re certain that your tingling is not putting you in immediate danger, it’s time to book an appointment with a chiropractor. This will be an opportunity to discover exactly what is causing your tingling sensations. Next, a treatment plan consisting of different adjustments and techniques that will relieve compression and promote tissue health will be implemented. Relief from worrisome, uncomfortable tingling is possible. Don’t let a pins-and-needles sensation let you lose your sharpness! With chiropractic care, you may be able to solve the problem quickly using natural, noninvasive treatments.