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Symptoms & Causes of Radiating Nerve Pain

Nerve Pain Treatment at Keith Clinic Chiropractic

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Radiating Arm Pain

Many people associate radiating arm pain with heart attack. In the case of left arm radiating pain it is always better to err on the side of caution and visit the Emergency Room. However, radiating arm pain can have many different causes, most commonly related to nerve entrapment. Nerve entrapment can occur as the nerve exits the spine or anywhere down to the wrist and hand.

The following is a list of entrapment causes that chiropractic care can effectively treat:

  • Cervical herniated disc: Entrapment of the nerve root in the spinal column.
  • Cervical stenosis: Entrapment of the nerve root caused by loss of disc height or bone spurs (arthritis).
  • Cervical trauma: Inflammation and muscle spasm irritating the surrounding nerve and vasculature.
  • Brachial plexus entrapment: When the nerve bundle that exits the neck is entrapped.
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome: When the nerve bundle that travels from the spine to shoulder is entrapped.
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome: When the ulnar nerve is entrapped in the elbow.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: When the radial nerve is entrapped in the wrist.

Radiating Leg Pain

Although there may be many causes for radiating leg pain, the most common cause we see in our offices is due to irritation to the nerves that make up the sciatic nerve.  This condition is commonly known as sciatica.  The second most common reason for radiating leg pain we see is disc herniation.



Sciatica is primarily caused by entrapment of the sciatic nerve at either the spine, musculature, or both. As the nerve roots exit the spinal column a simple joint misalignment or fixation (stuck vertebrae) can lead to inflammation and nerve root irritation. In this instance, the chiropractic adjustment is by far the top instrument of choice. Combined with physiotherapy modalities such as ultrasound, electric muscle stim, traction, heat and ice the chiropractic adjustment has been proven scientifically to alleviate the pressure on the surrounding nerve tissue. The second most common cause of sciatica is entrapment of the nerve in a surrounding muscle called the Piriformis. Most chiropractic doctors commonly look to this muscle as a secondary contributor to most sciatic nerve cases and are sure to address it with therapy, muscle release and exercise instruction.

Disc Herniation Types & Treatment

There are four different classifications of disc herniation.

  • Disc Degeneration. This is the loss of fluid in the nucleus pulposus, or the liquid center of the disc.
  • Disc Protrusion. This is a bulge in the disc without a rupture. There are 2 classifications of protrusions – a Focal or small protrusion and a Broad-based or wide protrusion. This is often called a bulging disc.
  • Disc Extrusion. This happens when a small hole develops in the annulus fibrosus (the disc’s thick exterior) and fluid moves into the epidural space.
  • Disc Sequestration. Disc fragments and fluid have separated or are forming outside of the disc.

Chiropractic’s effectiveness has been proven to help disc herniations in classifications 1 and 2. Early diagnosis and proper care from a doctor of Chiropractic can greatly reduce the need for surgery.

Pain Relief By the Numbers

Our clinic has vast experience treating all of the conditions above and has experienced significant success.  Unfortunately, many individuals will try the surgical route without attempting chiropractic care first.  The five-year success rate for spinal surgery is rarely better than 50% decrease in symptoms.  Fortunately, chiropractic care has proven to be a validated option to spinal surgery.  In fact,  a recent research study concluded that when you visit a chiropractor first of spine pain that radiates into the extremity your chance of needing surgery is less than 1.5%.  Conversely, when you visit an orthopedic surgeon for the same symptoms first, your likelihood of spinal surgery is over 42.7%. Schedule a visit with our doctors today.

Reduced odds of surgery were observed for…those whose first provider was a chiropractor. 42.7% of workers [with spine injuries] who first saw a surgeon had surgery, in contrast to only 1.5% of those who saw a chiropractor.

Keeney et al (2012), Spine