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Arm pain is an important symptom – it is a warning system, both for the arm itself, and for other nearby areas of the body. Often caused by injury to the area of the pain (a bone fracture or bruise, or a ligament tear), arm pain can also be caused by underlying problems (Arthritis, overuse injuries, referred pain, etc). One often overlooked cause of arm pain is injuries to the muscles, joints and ligaments of the neck and upper back – this is called “referred pain” – a type of pain which has its source in one part of the body, but the actual pain is felt elsewhere.
When you’ve strained a muscle in your neck, you may find that the stiffness extends past your shoulders into your upper arms and forearm. These muscles and nervous systems are all tied together, which is why something which affects one area of the body will frequently cause symptoms elsewhere. If you’re getting shooting pains down your arm into the hands and fingers, that can be an indication of a pinched nerve in your neck – a problem which can easily be solved with Chiropractic care. A pinched nerve can also cause numbness and weakness in the hands as well.
One area of neck pain which is very closely tied to arm pain is posture related – by shifting your head forward (a common move when sitting at a desk for long periods or looking at your phone all day) you’ll get a distortion in the muscles around the neck and shoulders. This is because the average head weighs between 9-12 pounds, and by shifting it forward you are making your muscles work much harder to keep it in position. Suddenly your 9-12 pound head is in a position which makes it feel closer to 30-40 pounds! This tension in the neck can cause stiffness in the upper arms, shooting pains down the arm, and tingling and numbness in the arms, into the hands.
You may have noticed we mentioned that tingling in the arms and hands may be an indication of referred pain from issues within your neck or shoulders. Frequently these symptoms are diagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - another common issue we treat in our office. To learn more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, make sure to check out how we can help with your Wrist Pain as well!
Osteo-arthritis is a bodily reaction to trying to stabilize unstable joints. Joints become unstable for many reasons – a specific trauma, or general over use. If they become unstable and are allowed to remain unstable, your joints try to fuse together to create stability. By having regular chiropractic visits you can prevent osteo-arthritis by stabilizing your joints, and if you already suffer from it, we can actually help slow the effects. In some cases we are actually able to reverse early symptoms. Elbow, shoulder and wrist pain can all be early symptoms of an unstable joint beginning to show signs of osteo-arthritis.
There is a reason there is an injury called "Tennis Elbow". Any constant, repetitive motion to a joint is something which can cause long-term pain. Whether you frequently lift weights, play racket sports, play a musical instrument, use a computer, or even just frequently use your cell phone for texting – overuse can cause wear and tear to your joints. Your chiropractor can recommend exercises to help strengthen your joints, and can use physical therapy methods like Ultrasound or EMS to reduce your pain.