Neuritis, bursitis, neuralgia, rheumatism, frozen shoulder, fibrositis, sprain and strains are common terms that refer to neck, shoulder and arm conditions. The main controller behind your shoulders, arms and hands is the brain. The brain communicates to the rest of your body through billions of nerves that make up your nervous system. Some nerves go straight to their destination point, but others mix with other nerves to form complicated nerve networks called a 'plexus.' The brachial plexus is made up of nerves that come out of the middle and upper back that supply information to the shoulders, arm, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.
The nerves that make up the brachial plexus may become irritated as they leave the spinal column. This can occur when the spinal bones in the neck and upper back are misaligned or do not have the range of motion they typically should and damage the very nerves they are supposed to protect. Any injury or trauma can cause the bones to become misaligned or lock down, decreasing the range of motion. Things as serious as an accident or falling down from an accident, or even as simple as sleeping in an awkward position can create the vertebrae to become misaligned or not work the way they were designed.
Muscles and joints throughout the chest wall and shoulder can also contribute to tightness around the brachial plexus, causing similar symptoms. This can be caused be structural deformities (such as previously shoulder injuries or anatomic variations) or created by lifestyle (such as sitting at a desk or having a sedentary workplace). The pressure placed on the nerves and blood vessels can create numbness, tingling and pain down the arm. This can also be known as "thoracic outlet syndrome".
Symptoms from damage to the brachial plexus can differ depending on location of the trauma.
In addition to pain and symptoms in your arm or neck, it is not uncommon to experience headaches, facial pain, dizziness, thyroid or nasal problems as a result of brachial plexus nerve irritation.
Symptoms include tingling and numbness in the hand. The pain is described as incredibly intense and has been reported to awaken sufferers at night. This pain is often caused by the swelling in the wrist. Often times people confuse nerves that are disrupted by the spine, muscles or joints as carpal tunnel syndrome, however, this has a completely different approach that a chiropractor would take. This misdiagnosed conditions can sometimes lead to unnecessary injections or surgery which could have otherwise been treated with conservative chiropractic care and Active Release Technique.
There continues to be an increase in people suffering from pain and neurologic symptoms in their shoulders, arms and hands, seeking help from chiropractors. The chiropractic approach analyzes the body's structure to locate and correct the nerve-damaging structural condition known as subluxations. Sports chiropractors with additional training can further help with use of functional training, rehab exercises and the gold standard in soft tissue therapy – Active Release Technique (or A.R.T.). This will eliminate the pain and correct the underlying structural problem that is referring pain to the arm, wrist, and hand problems. For more information, check out our blog article on carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms listed above, don't hesitate to reach out to one of our San Francisco chiropractic clinics by filling out our new patient request form to be evaluated to see if chiropractic is right for your condition.