A lot of people have have experienced pins and needles. Most of the time this is nothing to worry about and is usually due to pressure put on a nerve somewhere as it passes through your body carrying messages from and back to your brain. The most common reasons people experience tingling or numbness is from sleeping in a funny position, sitting for too long (that's my quiet place too, I get it) or wearing some clothing or jewellery that's too tight.
But when should tingling or numbness be something to cause alarm and what should you do about it?
To understand this topic better, I need to introduce you to a new word: STENOSIS. Stenosis means the narrowing of a passageway in the body. While this phenomenon can occur all over the body, today we are going to focus on the spine.
There are 3 types of Stenosis that can occur in the and around the spine.
1. Spinal Stenosis - usually affects both legs or both arms making them feel heavy and tired. Walking may be difficult and bending forward can relieve the pain
2. Foraminal Stenosis - usually affects one side only and is commonly known as a pinched nerve. Often due to degenerative change in the spine structure
3. Lateral Recess Stenosis - usually affects one side at a time. Can be very aggressive and cause acute shooting pain. Can involve ligaments of the spinal column
What are the causes of these?
There are 3 things that usually cause stenosis.
1. Disc - a herniated disc can protrude into the space of a nerve and put pressure on it
2. Bone - degenerative change can cause bony spurs. If these spurs press into the canals where nerves pass, they can put pressure on the nerve and cause pain
3. Ligaments - The supportive ligaments of the spine can grow due to injury, trauma and poor management and diet. This can also compress nerves in the surrounding areas.
What can be done?
Research shows (physical medicine and rehabilitation, 2019) that conservative care is recommended for stenosis. Advisories are warning against surgical intervention as an early option. Particularly, "chiropractic and physical therapy intervention has better short term outcomes at 2 months than non-conservative intervention"
So remember, if you're reading this article on the john/loo/portapotty and your legs are a tingling, that may just be pins and needles, but if you're experiencing sharp, shooting, achey or burning pain down both or one of your limbs, it may be time to book an appointment and get yourself checked out.
Stay Healthy and Happy,
Dr Julian Feldman
Enliven Integrative Health