While neck pain itself can be troublesome, the presence of these sensations in the hand can be alarming and may raise concerns about underlying conditions. In this article, we will explore the relationship between neck pain and the occurrence of pins and needles in the hand.
The neck, or cervical spine, consists of vertebrae, discs, nerves, and muscles that support the head and facilitate movement. When there is dysfunction or irritation in the neck region, it can affect the nerves that travel from the neck down to the hand. This can lead to a phenomenon known as cervical radiculopathy, where nerve root compression or irritation occurs in the cervical spine.
When cervical radiculopathy is present, neck pain may be accompanied by various symptoms in the hand, such as pins and needles (paresthesia), numbness, weakness, or even pain radiating down the arm. The specific distribution of these symptoms depends on the nerve root(s) affected. For example, compression or irritation of the C6 nerve root may lead to pins and needles in the thumb and index finger, while involvement of the C7 nerve root can cause symptoms in the middle finger and weakness in the triceps muscle.
The underlying causes of cervical radiculopathy can vary and may include:
- Herniated Disc: A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner material of a disc protrudes through its outer layer, potentially compressing nearby nerve roots.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: With age or certain conditions, the discs in the cervical spine may degenerate, leading to narrowing of the spinal canal or foraminal spaces, which can put pressure on the nerve roots.
- Cervical Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal, usually due to degenerative changes, which can lead to compression of the nerve roots.
- Bone Spurs: Over time, the formation of bony growths called osteophytes can occur, particularly in conditions like osteoarthritis. These bone spurs can impinge on nerve roots and cause symptoms.
It’s important to note that not all neck pain will result in hand symptoms. Other factors such as the severity of nerve compression, individual susceptibility, and overall health can influence whether pins and needles in the hand manifest alongside neck pain.
If you are experiencing neck pain with associated pins and needles in your hand, it is crucial to seek professional evaluation from a physiotherapist or a healthcare provider. If you would like to contact me directly using the details on the ‘About’ page, as a physiotherapist near Crawley I’d be privileged to help.
Depending on where you go for assessment and treatment, the protocols may vary. They will perform a thorough assessment, including a detailed history, physical examination, and possibly imaging studies, to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. At my clinic, treatment for neck-related pins and needles in the hand may (not not always) include manual therapy, exercises to improve neck mobility and posture, nerve gliding exercises, pain management strategies, and ergonomic modifications.
Note: This article was written with the help of AI technology and therefore may include incorrect information and discrepancies.