C5 and c6 syndrom relieving numbness and tingling

by Amy
(Switzerland)

Hi Sarah,
I have read your Back Suffer's Bible and had great results following your exercise program to relieve upper back pain and soreness.

I want to know whether you would be able to help me treat my increasingly annoying symptoms of "C5 and C6 syndrome" which was diagnosed last year by a neurologist. I have pretty severe numbness in some of the fingers of my left hand every morning when I wake and at other times throughout the day (like now typing this). I also have occasional irritating tingling-burning sensation across the right side of my back in the area below the shoulder blade and general weakness in my left and and hand. Occasionally I also feel shoulder pain and pain in my forearm, although rowing regularly seems to have eased these last two.
I did not find these symptoms mentioned in the Back Sufferer's Bible and feel that the exercises I am doing which have helped me with the upper back pain have not had an impact on the numbness and tingling.
I do rocking the knees, rolling along the spine, reverse curl ups, back block routine (block under lower back and then move to under thorax), floor twists and squatting. Normally I do these about 2x a week. I also row twice a week and take frequent hilly walks. I did 4 or 5 sessions a week from November 2011 until I started rowing in September 2012. I am 52 and in excellent health.

Can you let me know whether you think you can help me, and perhaps suggest what you think could be a good way forward. I would be happy to come and see you in London if you thought this would help me. Please let me know.
With very many thanks,
Amy

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Jan 18, 2013
Thank you for the response
by: Amy

Dear Sarah,
Thank you very much for responding so quickly and so helpfully. I will buy the book, start the exercises and also make an appointment to see you in Cornwall. That will be a real pleasure!

I did not remember your passage on rowing but I have just reread it and found to be a beautiful description that matches my feelings and sensations. I am certain now that your words were subconsciously behind my enthusiasm and determination to follow through as soon as I became aware that there was starter course for rowers in my city- Thank you for that!

I am sure you are right about my problem being postural. I was a decades-long serious sloucher. Pilates provided some improvement, starting about 5 years ago, but I feel that your lower back exercises have actually "cured" me of this. I stand up straight really all the time now, no conscious effort needed. I just feel that my muscles hold me up much better.

I still have problems maintaining good posture at the computer. My progressive lenses often cause me to tilt my head too far back (so jut out my chin) in order to read through the lower part of my glasses. I have recently updated the prescription and the situation is better but still not perfect.

Thank you again, and I look forward very much to seeing you in Cornwall.
Best wishes
Amy

Jan 17, 2013
Comment on C 5-6 arm pain
by: Sarah says

Gee whizz Amy! You’re a pretty good Sarah Key Method devotee. I'm impressed with you rigour!
Trouble is your efforts, such as you have been doing them, will mainly bring benefits to you lower back - and this trouble seems to be all going on in your upper back and neck. I’m afraid to say (sorry if it sounds like a sales pitch) you have to get ‘Keep Your Joints Young’ to see the special section of the Thoracic spine and another different section for Cervical spine (neck) . Here you will see various things to do, but using the BackBlock under your upper back is going to be a major player, as will the ‘Plough’ up the wall.
I'm not sure of your posture (you can upload a photo of you in side view below the comments box) but it sounds postural to me because it was helped by rowing! The massive backwards unfurling action of rowing (did you read my description of sculling on the front page of Back Sufferers Bible?) is a great strengthener and spinal straightener! You couldn’t have chosen a better exercise.
But your thoracic spine is not doing well - and I think it is doing two things:
1. Disturbing the autonomic supply to your arms and it is this giving you that funny ‘pain everywhere’ picture in neck, arm and fingers. The autonomic nervous system does lots of invisible things to the arms, like controlling dilation of blood vessels and sweating and stuff. When its impeded by ‘anatomical factors’ you can get these strange arm symptoms as well.
2. I think your thoracic spine not being mobile enough is straining your neck junction – particularly at low cervical where your neck sinks into your shoulders. Ig your posture is too ‘poke neck’ it will make this strain worse.

Have a read of those two chapters and see how you go with these two and various other self treatment exercises, and let me know; I’d love to hear. Better still, you could give yourself a treat and see me in Cornwall at Hotel Tresanton!

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