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Tingling in fingers, numbness in toes. Diagnosed with bulging disc. Can this be the cause of tingling, numbness?

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Hi I have been told that distress can cause illness. I have had tingling fingers and toes for the past two months. I have also been diagnosed with bulging disc of c4 and c5. Can this be the cause for the tingling an numbness of thtoes?
Wed, 24 Apr 2013 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 1 hour later
Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query.

A bulging disc in the C4, C5 spinal levels can possibly cause tingling sensations in the hands, but it is not possible to be the causative factor for the tingling in the toes. This is because these cervical spinal segments innervate only the areas in the upper limbs and not the lower limbs.

Certain other medical conditions like diabetes, vitamin deficiencies and certain neurological disorders can also present with tingling of the fingers and toes. But if you have had a proper medical work-up and have not been detected to have any medical causes for your symptoms, then of the important possibilities to be considered is an anxiety / stress-related disorder.

I would like to let you know that stress and anxiety can can present with not only psychological symptoms but also with physical or somatic symptoms. Tingling sensations, numbness, etc. are physical symptoms that are commonly seen in anxiety disorders. Now, this does NOT mean that 'everything is in your head' and that you are simply imagining the symptoms. Not at all. It has been found that anxiety disorders are associated with certain neuro-chemical imbalance in the brain and this can cause the person's pain and sensory threshold to get lowered and he / she can become 'hypersensitive' to sensory stimuli, and therefore have tingling, burning, etc.

Another mechanism by which anxiety can result in such symptoms is hyperventillation, i.e. fast breathing - which in turn, can cause certain salt imbalances (called hypocalcemia), and this can result in the tingling sensations. The underlying anxiety also causes a person to become more worried as to why his / her problems are persistent, and then this worry / anxiety itself then starts worsening the symptoms more.

Wish you all the best.

Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
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