If you want to Learn about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for a pinched nerve in shoulder, as well as tips for preventing it, this article is just for you!
A pinched nerve that causes pain in your shoulder could be due to many different things. Therefore, It’s important that you identify the source of your pinch so that you can begin an effective treatment plan to eliminate the pain once and for all. In this blog post, we define what exactly is a pinched nerve in the shoulder and what are the causes, Symptoms, and treatments for it!
What is it?
Pinched nerves in the neck are caused when the brachial plexus (the nerve network in the neck and upper back) becomes compressed against the cervical vertebrae or within fibrous tissue around it. The most common causes of nerve impingement include misalignment of the upper cervical spine causing vertebral subluxation, restricted shoulder range of motion, muscular tightness, and thickening/scarring (fibrosis) as a result of previous injuries.
How does a pinched nerve in my shoulder happen?
It usually happens due to some kind of injury to the neck, upper arm, or shoulder. However, there are some other more common causes of a pinched nerve in the shoulder:
Sprains and strains
A sprain occurs when you tear ligaments. A strain occurs when you tear muscle fibers. Both sprains and strains may occur when you fall on an outstretched hand or elbow, especially if you fall forwards onto an outstretched hand and then try to catch yourself with your other hand. This type of injury often affects people who do the heavy lifting, such as construction workers or waiters/waitresses who carry heavy trays of food around all day long.
Fractures (broken bones)
Fractures can happen when someone falls onto their outstretched hand and tries to catch themselves with their other hand — again, especially if they fall forwards onto an outstretched hand and then try to catch themselves with their other hand.
When your joints are damaged by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, they may become less flexible and restrict motion. This can irritate surrounding soft tissue and cause pain that may radiate down into your arm and hand.
Repetitive overhead activity
Overhead activities like throwing a baseball can overuse muscles that support your shoulder joint, causing inflammation that leads to inflammation of surrounding tissues (bursitis). This inflammation narrows passageways for blood vessels and nerves beneath your skin — which can lead to permanent damage if left untreated.
What are the tells that I have a Pinched nerve in my shoulders?
A pinched nerve in the shoulder can cause a number of symptoms, including:
- Pain or numbness in the shoulder and arm. You may feel pain in the front, back or side of your shoulder, or you may feel numbness in your fingers or hand.
- You may have difficulty lifting your arm up over your head or holding it out to the side for more than a few minutes.
- Numbness or tingling in your hand. This is usually worse when you reach across your body with your arm bent at 90 degrees.
- Difficulty lifting or turning your head, especially to the side where the nerve is pinched.
If you experience only one symptom, chances are good that it’s not a pinched nerve but if several of these symptoms occur together, it could be cause for concern.
How can a pinched nerve be diagnosed?
The doctor will perform a physical examination to determine if you have a pinched nerve in your shoulder. The physician may ask you to move your arm in different ways and check for pain or other symptoms. The specialist there will then try to find the one nerve that is being pinched.
The specialist or your doctor will also do your X-rays or CT scans to confirm the diagnosis of a pinched nerve in your shoulder. This scan usually uses X-rays and a computer to create cross-sectional images of your body, but it can give more information than an X-ray alone. For example, if there is inflammation or swelling around the nerve, this may show up on a CT scan as well as on an X-ray image.
Nerve conduction studies
Nerve conduction studies may be performed to confirm the diagnosis of nerve compression. The nerves can be tested for both functions and for pain sensitivity. If you feel numbness, tingling or weakness in your arm, then this test can help determine if there is a problem with your nerve function.
Most minor pinched nerves in the shoulder don’t need surgery. But if a nerve is pinched for a long time, it can cause weakness and loss of feeling in the arm.
Treatment depends on how severe the nerve damage is:
Rest and physical therapy
You’ll want to rest your shoulder as much as possible to give the nerve time to heal. If your shoulder muscles are weak, physical therapy can help strengthen them so they can do their job better.
These may help reduce inflammation and relieve pain in your shoulder. But they won’t fix any nerve damage that’s already happened. So if your symptoms are severe, you may need stronger medications or injections into your shoulder joint (see below).
Injections (such as corticosteroids)
Sometimes an injection of a steroid drug called cortisone into the bursa, a small sac of fluid deep in the joint, can help reduce inflammation and ease the pain. Cortisone shots don’t cure pinched nerves but may give you some relief from symptoms while other treatments work their way through your system.
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While pinched nerves can be extremely painful and debilitating, they are actually a rather common form of nerve injury. They can be caused by sports injuries, automobile accidents, and even degenerative spine diseases. Pinched nerves can also develop into more serious joint problems in a very short period of time. By understanding pinched nerve symptoms and conditions and knowing how to diagnose them properly, you can ensure that your recovery is successful and that the pain subsides quickly and completely.