and other symptoms in the arm and shoulder may be due to
injury of the neck or cervical spine. The seven cervical
vertebrae (spinal bones) in the neck have highly mobile
joints so that you can bend and tilt your neck. Since the
neck is exceptionally flexible, it is susceptible to injury
and pain which can be referred to the shoulder and the arm.
(It should be noted, however, that pain in the arm and shoulder
may be due to other conditions not related to the cervical
spine such as frozen shoulder, strain/sprain syndromes,
vertebrae are separated by discs, which are stiff jelly-like
pads that act as elastic cushions between the spinal bones.
Neck, shoulder and arm pain may be caused by an abnormal
bulging or protrusion of a disc in the cervical spine. The
disc may impinge on the spinal nerve roots or irritate the
spinal cord itself. This is also known as a herniated or
disc lesions that can cause arm and shoulder pain can be
acute or chronic. For example, sudden and severe pain (acute
torticollis) can result from lying too still for too long,
on a pillow too thick or too thin, or in a position that
keeps the neck in a sideways position for a long period.
way of developing acute torticollis is a whiplash injury
or by simply stretching (see figure below). Severe neck
stiffness can result, sometimes with discomfort in both
arms, and pins and needles in the fingers.
in the shoulder blade (the scapula) may also be due to cervical
disc trouble. It is also a common site for referred pain
secondary to gall stones or a transverse humeral ligament
tear or rupture. This scapular pain may radiate from the
shoulder blade up to the base of the skull. Pressure on
the nerve that innervates the arm area (the brachial nerve)
from cervical disc injury can also cause pain in the shoulder,
arm and chest.
other causes of shoulder and arm pain may include referred
pain, such as from a heart attack, as well as regional disorders
of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. These conditions
may include osteoporosis, tumors or cancerous growths, bursitis,
neuritis and damage to the nerves and spinal cord.
Can I Do to Ease the Pain Temporarily?
an ice pack(s) to the area to reduce inflammation and swelling
and thereby decrease the pain. Use the ice pack(s) for periods
of 15 minutes with at least a 30-minute interval between
you have insidious, recurring pain, apply moist heat to
the back of the neck, arm and shoulders. Use the heat for
periods of 20 minutes with at least a 30minute interval
between each application. A word of caution: these are temporary
remedies and not a substitute for seeking immediate professional
evaluation and care.
Can the Doctor of Chiropractic Do to Help?
Cady is educated and trained in the detection and care of
problems related to the spine. Your first visit will include
a complete chiropractic examination. X-rays may be ordered
to screen for possible underlying pathologies and to reveal
extreme distortions of the spine.
Dr. Cady feels that chiropractic care is appropriate in
your case, he may give you an adjustment to help reduce
the misalignments and ease the pressure on the spinal nerve
roots. In addition he may advise you on therapeutic exercises,
job safety, work-related posture and dietary information.
Can I Do to Prevent Arm and Shoulder Pain?
Cady cannot correct pain in the arm and shoulder without
your help. These steps can help:
Don't sleep on a stack of pillows, or even one thick pillow.
This puts stress on the upper back and neck. We have Temperpedic
Pillows, which offer the best support while sleeping.
Don't read or watch television while lying down. This
can contort the neck. Always sit upright.
Don't carry heavy purses or bags with a shoulder strap.
The weight can pull on the neck and shoulder causing further
When doing work that requires you to bend your neck downward
or face the same direction for long periods take frequent
Be strict in following good postural habits when standing,
sitting and walking.
Follow a regular schedule of appropriate exercises to help
strengthen your back and neck. Dr. Cady can recommend the
best exercise program for you. Call
us today at 408-739-2273 to make an appointment.