When you experience pain, weakness or numbness in your shoulder, arm or hand, it’s natural to wonder what’s causing the problem.
While there are numerous potential causes of these types of problems, a frequently overlooked cause is irritation of the cervical spine nerves that control these areas.
Nerves not really ‘Pinched’
The term ‘pinched nerve’ is a bit inaccurate. Really what happens is that when joints between bones in the neck lose their normal motion or alignment. nerves can become stretched, irritated or compressed.
Also, sensors in the joints stop sending the right messages. These factors combine to scramble messages passing between the brain and body, causing things to stop working and to break down.
When this happens, it can lead to a variety of problems including tightness or weakened muscles, numbness or pain.
Fortunately, most of these problems, if treated in the right manner, can be resolved, leaving you feeling and functioning better.
In this article, you’ll learn all about this common source of shoulder, arm and hand pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Irritation in the Neck?
There are several potential symptoms of nerve irritation in the neck. The most common include: – Pain that travels up or down your arm or into your hand.
This can be anywhere from minor discomfort to a near-constant throbbing or shooting pain. – Weakness or decreased ability to use your hand or arm.
This may be minor and only show up when lifting something heavy or using your hand for extended periods of time. In more severe cases, it can make basic tasks like picking up a cup a clumsy experience.
Numbness or tingling in your hand or arm can be a sign that the nerve damage is getting worse.
At Canberra Spine Centre, our chiropractors often have patients coming to see us with tightness, weakness or numbness into their shoulders, hands and arms.
How does the cervical spine go wrong?
Your spinal column is made up of bones called vertebrae. These bones are stacked on top of each other, and are separated by discs and other soft tissues.
Staying upright and moving in a coordinated fashion is a complex task controlled and regulated by the nervous system that your spine protects.
When your spine experiences more stress or load than it can handle, these loads cause your body to adopt different patterns of movement and posture in an attempt to adapt to those stresses.
When this goes on for days or months, these patterns become entrenched. Chiropractors call areas of the spine that have lost their normal motion, ‘subluxations’.
Accidents, falls, and repeated postures are a common cause of subluxations. Often it is combined stresses over long periods that are the cause.
Things you can do to help improve your posture
Poor postures repeated over long period of time are a major cause of cervical problems. By improving your posture you can help minimise loads on your spine.
Some ways to improve your posture are: using a sit-stand desk; getting up frequently from your sitting position; changing your posture frequently; and keeping your screens up at eye level so that your neck isn’t bent downward for long periods.
How chiropractors can help
Chiropractors are experts at managing and diagnosing spine-related conditions.
When you see a chiropractor at Canberra Spine Centre, we’ll take a detailed history and perform a thorough examination, including x-rays if required.
This is to make sure that we fully understand your problem, and also find out in you’re in the right place to get the care that you need.
If your condition is something that chiropractic can help, treatment involves techniques to restore proper motion and function to the spine and nervous system, as well as other techniques and rehabilitation exercises to help restore function.
You will be re-assessed frequently to make sure that you are on the right track.
Chiropractors use gentle spinal manipulation and soft tissue techniques to help restore proper motion to the spine, thus restoring proper nerve function.
When the nerves are no longer irritated, problems such as arm and hand pain or numbness often resolve.
At Canberra Spine Centre, we help people with shoulder, arm and hand problems every day to recover normal function and to feel great again.
If you have shoulder or arm pain and you’re not sure what to do about it, please call us on (02) 6257 9400.
If you would like some more information about the spine and nervous system and how it relates to your health, please check out the other articles on our Facebook page or go to our website: www.spinecentre.com.au.
Also, make sure you read the other interesting articles we post this month.
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