ARMS & SHOULDER PAIN
Pain 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 arm. It should be noted, however, that pain in the arms and shoulder may be due to other conditions not related to the cervical spine such as a frozen shoulder, strain or sprain syndromes, osteomas, etc.
The 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 slipped disc.
Cervical 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 to thick or too thin, or in a position that keeps the neck in a sideways position for a long period.
WHAT CAN I DO TO EASE THE PAIN TEMPORARILY?
- Apply 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 20 to 30 minutes with at least a 30 minute interval between each application.
- If you have insidious, recurring pain, apply most heat to the back of the neck arm and shoulders. Use the heat for period of 20 minutes with at least a 30 minute interval between each application. A word of caution: these are temporary remedies and not a substitute for seeking immediate professional evaluation and care.
Your doctor of chiropractic 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. By doing so you can put stress on the upper back and neck.
- 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 your shoulder causing further pain.
- When doing work that requires you to bend your neck downward or face the same direction for long period take frequent breaks.
- 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. Your chiropractor can recommend the best exercise program for you.
- Contact your local chiropractor for thorough examination and treatment options.