Just as low back pain is often accompanied by numbness or tingling down the leg, neck pain is often accompanied by numbness or tingling in one or both arms. While many people attribute these sensations to “circulation”, they most often result from pinching or irritation of a spinal nerve.
Several causes of numbness and tingling to the arms originate in the neck. Perhaps the most common is restriction of the movement of a spinal joint. This may cause direct friction to the nerve root as it exits the spine, or secondary muscle tightness which can also produce nerve friction as the nerve exits the neck through layers of muscle. Factors such as degeneration or thinning of the spinal discs narrow the nerve openings in the spine and make the nerves more susceptible to friction. Those with disc thinning or degeneration, however, respond to treatment well if normal joint movement can be restored with manipulation.