I have a numbness in my upper back approximately the size of a tennis ball...

Hello, I have a numbness in my upper back approximately the size of a tennis ball located around my shoulder blade, next to my spine on my left side. I have had this for a good while but I am now experiencing numb and sometimes pain in my left fingers, mainly little and the next one in. I have also noticed when laying on my back at night that both arms are numb sometimes (don't know if this is related). Occasionally when I tilt my head down I feel light headed? I suspect herniated disc but I am struggling to even in to see the NHS Doctor. I have had massage which doesn't seem help. Many thanks Nathan

2 March 2017

Hello, thank you for your question, from the symptoms you are describing it does seem likely that there is either a problem with one of the discs in your neck which is the cervical spine or one or more of the muscles in the upper back and spine.. When a disc in the neck prolapses there is more usually quite severe pain associated with this which travels into the arms as well as a reduction of movement in the neck. It is possible however than rather than be fully prolapsed or slipped one of the discs may be tipping and pressing onto the surrounding nerve roots which is causing the numbness and tingling you are feeling in your arm and also when lying flat. It is also possible that you have got an issue with either the trapezius or scapula muscles in your back, when a muscle is inflamed or goes into spasm it can also cause pressure on the nerves surrounding it and this could be causing the numbness you you have in your upper back and the tingling in your arms. Problems with these muscles can also cause the neck muscles to tighten and pinch on nerves which can contribute to the light headedness you feel when putting your head down. The good news is whatever the cause it is usually very treatable and we are enclosing a link for you to read on the types of problems that can arise in the neck area and their treatments.

Neck pain - NHS

Clearly you would benefit from seeing your doctor and hopefully you will be able to arrange an appointment soon to do so. If you are an AXA-PPP member you may also like to speak to your claims team to ask for a referral to our working body team which you can self refer to.. This will give you access to a Physiotherapist who will be able to examine you, identify the cause where possible and suggest any treatment that may be needed.

If you continue to have difficulty seeing your Gp then it might be sensible to attend a walk in centre instead where you will be able to see a medical practitioner who will conduct an initial assessment of your symptoms and arrange for any initial treatment you need. You can find details of your nearest urgent care and walk in centres here;

NHS home

We do hope you will find this information helpful, best of luck in getting this resolved,

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

Got a health question?

We’re here to help you take care of your health - whenever you need us, wherever you are, whether you're an AXA PPP healthcare member or not.

Our Ask the Expert service allows you to ask our team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives, counsellors and pharmacists about any health topic.