The actual cause of arm or leg pain can be difficult to self-diagnose. If you have had an obvious injury, such as stressing a joint through a repetitive pattern at work, dislocating a shoulder playing sports, or pinching a nerve by falling asleep in an awkward position, the source of your immediate pain may be obvious. However, when pain in the arms or legs develops slowly over time without the occurrence of an obvious injury or accident, or when the pain from an injury has become chronic and the source becomes perplexing, you may be in need of a more thorough assessment to determine the source.
There are a number of different possible sources for the pain including bursitis, arthritis and tendinitis, but misalignment (subluxations) of the vertebrae in the neck and lower back are responsible for the vast majority of chronic arm and leg pain. If the spaces where the nerves leave the spine become narrowed because the vertebrae or discs are out of position, the nerve can become irritated, and often produces pain down its entire path. Many patients are surprised when they see that the nerves travel from the spine all the way to the ends of their fingertips and toes.
As a result, injuries to the vertebrae in the spine can create the sensation of pain anywhere along the entire length of the arms and legs. The pain patterns associated with sciatica, which run from the hip all the way to the foot, are a good example of how this works.