8 Signs of Pinched Nerve in Shoulder
A pinched nerve occurs when tissues like the muscle, tendon, and ligament compress the nerve. Pinched nerves can happen in several areas. Herniated discs and bone spurs can compress the sciatic nerve, a condition also known as sciatica. Similarly, you can have pinched nerves in cervical or thoracic areas, resulting in symptoms around your arm, chest, buttocks, or shoulder.
Cervical radiculopathy is the official term used to describe a pinched nerve in the shoulder. This condition stems from something pressing against a nerve in the neck. A pinched nerve in the shoulder can cause significant discomfort, impacting your daily activities. Its severity might range from mild to debilitating. The degree of discomfort varies depending on what causes the pinched nerve.
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A pinched nerve should improve over time, requiring no treatment typically. In most cases, any intervention will be non-surgical unless the situation is critical. Common pinched nerve in shoulder treatments include prescriptions, anti-inflammatories, and corticosteroid injections. You can also complement the recovery with physiotherapy to reduce stiffness and improve the range of motion.
Let's learn more about the eight signs of a pinched nerve in the shoulder:
Sign #1: Chronic shoulder pain
Pain is one of the most chronic symptoms when you have a pinched nerve in the shoulder. The shoulder pain stems from inflammation in the area or excessive pressure put on the nerve root. Typically, you might feel a sharp, aching, or burning sensation in the shoulder. A pinched nerve also impacts the cervical spine, which causes discomfort in the upper back area.
The pinched nerve shoulder pain may manifest in different areas. You might have it directly in the shoulder, or it may radiate between the shoulder and neck. You may also experience pain when turning your head to either side. The shoulder pain should come and go, subsiding over time.
Sign #2: Right or left shoulder pain
If you are experiencing pain in only one of your shoulders, it can originate from a pinched nerve. A compressed nerve sends signals to the body part with the issue. Therefore, you won't feel the same pain on the other side.
In addition, the pain can radiate throughout the body. Since the nerves run through your body, a compression in the shoulder may cause pain elsewhere in the body. These connected body parts can experience discomfort even though there is no local injury. Usually, the pain will radiate down your arm and into your hand.
Sign #3: Neck pain
You can experience neck pain from the pinched nerve in your shoulder. This uncomfortable feeling will worsen when you move your head around because of the increased pressure on the nerve. You may also get a headache near the base of the neck and the shoulder blade.
Sign #4: Shoulder numbness
A pinched nerve may cause numbness or decreased sensation in the shoulder area. Often, the numbness emerges when you use your shoulder to lift something heavy. You may also encounter a similar feeling when stretching your arms upwards.
Don't let this pinched nerve symptom worry you too much. It's normal to feel a bit of numbness in the shoulder, arm, and hand. Expect the feeling to subside in a matter of days. Consult a chiropractor if the condition persists for a long time.
Sign #5: Shoulder weakness
Do you feel muscle weakness in your shoulder, arm, or hand? Sometimes, you may have misidentified a pinched nerve as a muscle injury. Fortunately, this soreness in your shoulder should be temporary. Give your body time to heal and recover its strength. As long as you don't aggravate the condition, you should feel as good as new.
Sign #6: Pins and needles in shoulder
With a pinched nerve, you may feel pins and needles in your shoulder. Known as paresthesia, it is common yet only temporary. You may also feel this condition in your arms and hands. The pins and needles feeling can be painful for someone hypersensitive to physical sensations. However, it should disappear within days. Seek a proper diagnosis if this pinched nerve symptom becomes a chronic problem.
Sign #7: Bone and tissue changes
A pinched nerve in the shoulder doesn't happen out of the blue. You could see changes in the bone, experience swollen tissue, or have a protruding disk. You can detect these symptoms in a physician's assessment or medical imaging.
Medical imaging can diagnose a pinched nerve and rule out other possible problems. Likewise, an x-ray or CT scan can examine the spinal bones to see if they press down on the nerve. An MRI may analyze the soft tissue or nerves that other scanning cannot pick up in as much detail. In some cases, electrodiagnostic tests use electricity to assess the nerve functions in the body, determining where the nerve is compressed.
Sign #8: Ongoing health conditions
An existing health condition might cause a pinched nerve in the shoulder. Some examples include disk generation, a herniated disk, or an acute injury. However, keep in mind these problems may or may not be related to nerve issues.
As the shoulder gets used so much, it is a common area to experience an injury. If you encounter one of the above symptoms, don't automatically assume you have a pinched nerve. A tendon tear, joint inflammation, bursitis, or undiagnosed arthritis may also manifest similar signs as a pinched nerve in the shoulder. If you have any concerns, it is best to contact your chiropractor to clarify your situation.