Symptoms in Your Hands Could Stem From Your Neck

Hand pain or numbness may signal a problem affecting your cervical spine (neck). It’s wise to heed this warning and visit a neurology specialist for answers. Hand symptoms related to the cervical spine typically occur in part of the hand. You may have an abnormal sensation in your thumb or a few of your fingers. A neurologist can get to the bottom of your symptoms.

Rely on top-quality neurology specialist Ravinder Singh, MD, and the team at Premier Neurology Group for a full range of neurological care. If you’re experiencing tingling, pain, or numbness in one or both hands, we can help.

Here we discuss why hand symptoms may point to an issue with your neck.

Anatomy of the cervical spine (neck)

To understand how neck issues can affect the hand, it helps to understand the basic anatomy of the cervical spine. Individual bones called vertebrae make up the entire spine, which has four sections consisting of the cervical, thoracic (mid-back), and lumbar (lower back) spine, along with the sacrum and coccyx (tailbone).

The cervical spine is made up of the top seven vertebrae of the spinal column. It has a backward slightly C-shaped curve, which makes it more flexible than other parts of the spine. This flexibility allows you to move your head up and down, as well as to either side. But all of this flexibility makes the neck more susceptible to wear and tear and injury.

Your spine, including your cervical spine, has discs that sit between each pair of moveable vertebrae. This provides cushion so that the vertebrae don’t rub together. These shock absorbers have a tough outer ring with a soft, jelly-like core.

Ligaments, muscles, and tendons also provide support for the spine. These components make up the spinal column. The spinal cord, composed of a bundle of nerves, runs through the spinal canal.   

Changes, whether from wear and tear or an injury, can affect any part of the spine. Certain changes to the cervical spine that compress the nerves running through the spinal canal commonly cause tingling, numbness, and pain that can affect your arm or hand.

Is it cervical radiculopathy?

More commonly known as a pinched nerve, cervical radiculopathy occurs when the spinal canal becomes too narrow in the neck area.

Nerve roots that leave the cervical spine travel through the arm and communicate information about movement and sensation to and from the brain. A compressed or irritated nerve in the neck area can cause tingling, pain, and numbness in your neck, arms, shoulders, and hands. Other symptoms include headache and muscle weakness.

As mentioned earlier, you may feel symptoms in only one area, and the pain may get worse with certain activities. Additionally, you may experience flare-ups, which means symptoms get worse and then subside, only to come back again after a while.  

What causes cervical radiculopathy?

Wear and tear that occurs with age is the most common cause of cervical radiculopathy. These changes may occur in the vertebrae, tendons, or intervertebral discs, causing compression or irritation of the nerve roots. Changes in size, or a shift in tissues can gradually narrow the spinal canal as you age.

Bone spurs and herniated discs are examples of changes that commonly cause cervical radiculopathy.

Treating cervical radiculopathy

Regardless of the cause of cervical radiculopathy, you need expert treatment to ease your pain and restore function. Following a thorough evaluation, Dr. Singh will discuss appropriate treatment options. Your specific treatment depends on the exact cause of the problem, the severity of your symptoms, and your medical history. 

Nonsurgical approaches like medication, physical therapy, and immobilization are tried first. You may need surgery to relieve the compression in the cervical spinal canal if nonsurgical methods fail to provide relief. 

For evaluation and treatment of cervical radiculopathy, call our office in Beverly Hills, California, to schedule your appointment, or use our convenient online booking form.

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