A lot of people assume that if they have tingling in their hands they must have a Carpal Tunnel issue - but did you know that the Carpal tunnel (which is where your hand and wrist meet) is only one of the many sites in which the nerves of our arms can have areas of pressure or tension.In fact some of the other common sites are as below right.
As you can see there is a lot of possibilities - and different sites of compression can give different symptoms.
For instance the Carpal tunnel is where the nerve called the median nerve travels through. If it is compressed you will get changes in sensation in the fingers and when the pressure is great enough and consistent enough - wasting of the big muscle at the base of your thumb.
But compression at this site shouldn’t give you pins and needles in your little finger - as this is supplied by another nerve of your arm - called the Ulna nerve.
This Ulna nerve is the one that will give you a shot of pain down the little finger side of your arm if you bash the inside of your elbow against something - i think we have all felt that at some stage. (Yes this is the funny bone).
A tingling or strange feeling that runs down the back of your forearm and to the back of your hand may well just be the other major nerve of the arm called the Radial nerve. It to can be compromised at several different spots along its path - including as it travels around the back of the shoulder. see nerves to left
So if you are one of those unlucky enough to be regularly feeling a weird pins and needles sensation in your arm or hand - pay attention to when it happens, where it actually goes (not just the whole hand - but which part for instance) and what positions relieve or exaggerate it.
For example - people often say that when they sleep funny they get this arm pain and pins and needles. But think back to what position your arm was in when it was happening, what was your neck position like, and what position did you take to relieve it as quickly as possible.
All of this becomes important when trying to figure out what is the cause - and more importantly what you can do about it to help improve the health and function of you and your nerve.
Now the good news is - lots of these things can be improved by simply improving how the nerve moves as you do.
One method - commonly known as flossing - is designed to improve the way the nerve glides past all the structures along its path.
Think of it exactly as you would flossing your teeth. As you first push the piece of floss between your teeth things feel tight around it - but move it back and forth a few times and it suddenly becomes easier to move. (Movement video to follow later this month)
So ok - this may be a bit simplified - but if you keep this in mind when you think about how the nerves of our bodies have to run around corners of bones, between layers of muscle or even through the belly of a muscle - then this concept can become super important.
The same concept can help explain some peoples cause of symptoms as well.
This time think of a typical garden hose as being similar to a nerve. If you wanted to water the garden around the side of the house you may just pull that hose around the brick corner of the house to do so.
Now if the hose its touching the side of the house - but has little tension in it - everything is going to work out fine.
But say as you pull it around the corner it reaches the end of its length - and you have to really pull it tight to get to where you want to water. Now, where the hose meets the corner of the hose it is pulled tight and compressed against the brick. Now you are flat out getting water out of the hose.
Nerves are the same - they can handle a lot of what we throw at them really well - but if you keep putting them under continual load and tension - they will talk back.
It pays to listen.