Numbness and tingling

CTB approach to spinal radiculopathy "diagnosis"

Sandy Efflandt avatar
Written by Sandy Efflandt
Updated over a week ago

While the medical system tends to jump to a "diagnosis" of spinal radiculopathy (impingement of a nerve at the spine) in cases of numbness or tingling, in truth there are many possible origins of these symptoms.

  1. Trigger point phenomena alone can produce numbness, tingling, cold, and other non-pain symptoms, with no direct mechanical involvement of nerves. This cause is generally completely overlooked by medical practitioners, but experienced trigger point therapists see this on a regular basis.

  2. Nerves can be mildly or severely impacted along their route from the spine to the periphery by soft tissue, in which case the term entrapment is used. Occasionally, nerves might be impinged by a bony opening that might be anatomically too narrow, or might be narrowed by tension in the surrounding muscles. When muscles are shortened and taut due to trigger points, they may reduce joint spacing or may potentially cause bony openings they normally stabilize to narrow.

  3. Nerves can be impinged as they exit the spine, in which case the term radiculopathy is used. Even in this case, joint spacing between vertebrae is controlled by deep spinal muscles such as the multifidi and these may be shortened due to a regional splinting response, in which case the body is utilizing trigger points to stabilize and protect an area of the spine due to some ongoing balance or perceived injury.

CTB can be effective at addressing all of these situations, because our work focuses on analyzing postural imbalances that lead to muscular splinting. If the overly engaged muscles begin to let go because the nervous system is perceiving less threat, proper joint play is restored and nerves are no longer compressed. Nerves may require time to recover, but we often can make progress with these conditions. Even in the case of herniated or bulging disks, patients can often experience significant relief as the body relaxes its protective hold on the area.

Surgery may be indicated in some severe cases, or in situations where anatomical abnormality must be corrected. It should not be the first strategy unless there is clear evidence that muscular contribution is unlikely to be a significant factor. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to pursue a CTB session or two before making the decision to go with surgery. If the CTB work provides relief, that is an indication that soft tissue work and downregulation of the CNS will be a strategy worth pursuing. More often than not, this is the case.

We do sometimes recommend bony chiropractic adjustments in acute cases where muscles have gone into spasm and there is now significant nerve entrapment contributing to the symptoms. These situations can spiral into a severe episode and an acute chiropractic adjustment can calm down the neurological component enough for the soft tissue work to be more productive. However, simply doing bony adjustments without addressing the perpetuating factors and the resulting trigger points is not likely to have a lasting benefit. We analyze anatomical variations such as hyperpronation, leg length discrepancies and other factors that set up muscles to become protectively engaged. Without that, practitioners end up having to fix the same problem over and over, rather than guiding the body back to homeostasis which is the essence of our approach.

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