Pinched Nerve In the Shoulder Symptoms and Treatment
A pinched nerve in the shoulder can be excruciating, and if not treated, can become irreparable, or can cause muscle atrophy.
In other words, the pain is awful, and if you wait too long to see a doctor, it might lead to surgery or chronic pain, lasting a lifetime.
What causes of Pinched Nerve In the Shoulder?
There are many causes of pinched shoulder nerves, and some actually originate in neck discs.
Pinched nerves are nerves which have too much pressure placed upon them, altering their function of sending signals to the muscles and brain.
What is Pinched Nerve In the Shoulder?
A pinched nerve is a universal and general term to describe an injury to a nerve, or group of nerves.
A pinched nerve in the shoulder occurs when there is too much pressure applied on a nerve, or nerve group, by the tissues around it, such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons.
If a nerve is pinched, or pressured for a short time, there is usually no permanent damage. The pressure prevents the nerve from functioning correctly, and if the pressure continues, chronic pain and permanent nerve damage can occur.
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Your shoulder is one of the most complicated joints in the body. It provides the greatest range of motion, and is made of four joints, and five bone groups. Because it is a unique joint, it can also cause unique and complex problems.
The deepest layer of the shoulder consists of bones and joints, followed by ligaments, then tendons and muscles, and on top of these layers are the nerves. The shoulder nerves travel down the arm, and pass through the axilla or armpit, and are called the Brachial Plexus, before they divide into individual nerves.
Pinched Nerve In Shoulder Symptoms And Possible Causes
Pinched Nerve In Shoulder Symptoms
Persistent, acute pain Redness or swelling Fever or heat in the shoulder joint Numbness, or decreased sensation in the shoulder Sharp or burning pain, radiating outward from the shoulder Tingling or “pins and needles” sensations called paresthesia radiating from shoulder, down the arm Muscle weakness or twitching of the shoulder
Pinched Nerve In Shoulder Causes
- Injury to the shoulder and/or neck disc Stress from repetitive activity (using it the same way repeatedly for work, sports, or hobby)
- Swelling of tissues (diabetes, or genetic malady)
- Poor sustained posture
Home Treatment for Pinched Nerve in Shoulder Pain – (P-R-I-C-E)
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At home treatment for pinched nerve in shoulder pain can be remembered by the acronym PRICE.
Protection – protect your shoulder, by immobilizing it
Rest – refrain from normal activities involving use of your shoulder
Ice – [easyazon-link asin=”B0027CU1EY”]apply an ice pack[/easyazon-link] to your shoulder area for 15-20 minutes, three times daily
Compression – use a compression bandage to reduce swelling
Elevation – elevate your arm in order to reduce swelling and subsequent pressure on the nerve(s)
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The most frequently recommended home treatment is rest, or stopping the activities which are possibly causing the nerve compression. Use a shoulder brace to immobilize the shoulder, and modify your activities which aggravate the problem.
Medications for pain are analgesics, or Non-steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, and can be found in over-the-counter products such as Advil, and Motrin. Naproxen, which can be found in Aleve and Anaprox, will also help to relieve pain, and alleviate inflammation causing pressure on the nerve(s).
When to See a Doctor for Pinched Nerve in Shoulder Pain
If in any doubt, always seek proper medical advice. If you experienced a shoulder injury, if your shoulder pain persists more than a few days, or if there is redness or swelling accompanying acute pain, you should seek medical attention. If the shoulder pain occurs suddenly, is severe, and is accompanied by chest pressure, you should get emergency medical treatment because this could be these symptoms of heart failure. If you feel fever or heat in your shoulder, this could indicate infection, and needs to be treated immediately.
Diagnosing shoulder nerve damage
Nerve conduction velocity test
In order to diagnose damage to your nerve, your doctor or orthopedic surgeon may conduct a nerve conduction velocity test with electrodes to tell whether your nerve(s) are damaged. The electromyography is also used to measure the electrical discharges produced in the muscles, indicating whether there is damage to the nerves leading to the muscles.
A shoulder MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, test may be given if compression of the nerve root is suspected by your doctor.
Pinched Nerve in Shoulder Treatment
Treatment thereafter may require physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the muscles, to relieve pressure on the nerve(s). Corticosteroid injections to the shoulder may be administered to help minimize inflammation and pain. If your condition has not improved with these treatments, surgery may have to be an option. Arthroscopic decompression surgery is performed to relieve nerve pressure when all other treatments fail.
Because the shoulder is so complex, it is best, especially with a new shoulder injury, to seek immediate treatment. Getting the correct diagnosis and proper treatment not only alleviates the horrible pain, but also helps prevents further damage to the nerve or nerves. Pinched nerve in shoulder pain should not be taken lightly, so pay attention to your symptoms, and if the pain persists, see your doctor for a more complete diagnosis.
Pinched Nerve in Shoulder exercise and rehabilitation
To help you recover from shoulder pain and injury I have created a complete shoulder relief program. Generally exercising your shoulder will help you relieve shoulder pain and help rehabilitate your shoulder, but always check with your doctor before doing any exercise. Never repeat an exercise if you feel that it aggravates your pain and stop the exercise immediately if it hurts.
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Tim Allardyce DO MCSP SRP