We confront the world neither directly or precisely, but from a brain linked to what is “out there” by a few million fragile sensory nerve fibers, our only information channels, and our lifelines to reality. Many people experience numbness or a lack of sensation at some point in their life. It may be an “arm going to sleep” or a “pins and needles” sensation. This occurs when a sensory nerve becomes impinged leading to a decrease in input from that nerve to the brain. The impingement must be removed for normal sensation to return. If the impingement has been longstanding or severe it can cut, tear or damage the nerve which leads to ongoing or even permanent numbness. A peripheral sensory nerve (one that supplies the periphery of the body, i.e. not part of the brain or spinal cord) will go through a repair process when the insult is removed. This process is slow at first (about 4 mm/day). The spine is one of the most common places for an irritated nerve to occur due to subluxation or a herniated disc. One can experience numbness in the shoulder, arm, or fingers (commonly diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome) because of nerve pressure in the cervical spine (see also neck pain), or the ribcage or middle back due to the thoracic spine (see also mid back pain), or in the buttock, leg or foot due to the lumbar spine (see also low back pain). It is important to note that one can have numbness originating from the spine but not have spinal pain because some fibers perceive pain (nociceptors) while others perceive sensation (mechanoreceptors). One can have mechanoreceptor irritation without nociceptor irritation and vise versa.
Chiropractic and Numbness
The chief concern of chiropractors is to remove nerve interference. We use specific means to remove nerve irritation without invasive drugs, shots, or surgery. Several studies show the benefits of chiropractic care for nerve irritation and numbness. One such study revealed 90% of sciatic patients (sciatic nerve irritation from the lumbar spine, causing pain and/or numbness) experienced relief, while another showed patients experiencing a 50% reduction in sciatic symptoms within 16 days of care. Specific spinal adjustments help to normalize spinal reflexes, which are a means for the body to relay messages from the body to the spinal cord and vise versa.
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