Stingers, burners! These laidback monikers refer to brachial plexus injuries. It’s a mouthful (we know!), according to the Mayo Clinic, the brachial plexus “is the network of nerves that sends signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm and hand. A brachial plexus injury occurs when these nerves are stretched, compressed, or in the most serious cases, ripped apart or torn away from the spinal cord.” Commonly experienced as shoulder, arm or hand pain, brachial plexus injuries can affect anyone from birth to 100.
What if My Hand, Shoulder and Arm Pain is Minor?
Get treatment! When you experience pain, decreased movement or decreased sensation in the arm and shoulders, your symptoms may indicate a condition that is caused by a nerve problem. The Mayo Clinic advises, “It's important to be evaluated and treated within six to seven months after the injury. Delays in treatment may compromise outcomes” of therapy.
What Causes Shoulder, Arm or Hand Pain?
Injuries to the brachial plexus (that bundle of nerves in your neck region) may be caused by
- Inflammation that could result in paralysis of some arm muscles
- Stretch injuries
- Birth trauma (e.g., when the baby’s shoulders are wedged in the birth canal)
- Direct traumas like automobile or motorcycle accidents or falls
- Tumors that put pressure on the brachial plexus
Let’s say your shoulder is pulled in one direction and your neck in the other, which could happen, for example, in a whiplash injury. As a result, you might begin to suffer from hand, shoulder and arm pain.
What Symptoms Indicate the Condition?
Commonly experienced symptoms form a traumatic injury to your brachial plexus, include numbness, weakness, tingling and/or pain. You may be able to pinpoint a specific traumatic event that set in motion your hand, shoulder or arm pain.
Why Chiropractic for Your Hand, Arm and Shoulder Treatment?
The first step in the road to recovery is to diagnose the condition through testing, such as an MRI of the neck and shoulders, ultrasound, blood tests or an electromyogram (EMG). If you take the traditional medical route, treatment often includes pain medications, physical therapy to increase muscle strength or braces or splints.
Chiropractic care treats the underlying condition, while avoiding the risk of adverse side effects prescription pain medications and the last resort—surgery. Subluxations, or misalignments in the spine, can impede or cause compression of the nerves. Often, after just one chiropractic adjustment, a patient suffering from shoulder, arm or hand pain or numbness will experience immediate relief.