Just because you don’t have neck pain does not mean that the pain coming down your arm does not originate from here. This is something that should always be screened for when you are with your local physical therapist, but let’s try to get into a little of it to best help you out with what you can do at home with your shoulder, arm, elbow or hand pain. This of course does not mean that it isn’t coming from one of those areas, but the neck must always be cleared out, especially when you have been working at a specific area without any relief.
The first and easiest way for you to rule out anything would move your neck around and see if it changes your pain down the arm at all. It may either reproduce it and make it worse or take it away. Be sure to check all directions and look up, down, left and right as well as tilting to each side. You might have to move into and out of the position 10 times or hold for 30 seconds to get any reproduction or relief of symptoms.
If you get a positive result from what you do and it relieves any of your symptoms, continue to do this. The reverse is also true, but either way, now you have something that you can address.
So Why is the Problem in the Neck, but the Pain Somewhere Else?
When the nerves become entrapped it is usually one of two places. The first is in the lower cervical spine as this is where all of the nerves exits from that go down into the arm. The other place is between the collarbone and first rib. As all of the nerves exit the spine the travel here first before going down further. Compression at either of these joints can leave you in a world of hurt.
Joint and Disc Referral
These are more likely to present as neck pain, but when they do refer usually do so down the middle of the back between the shoulder blades. They can also be out more to the medial border of the scapular (shoulder blade) as well making it easier to determine what needs to be done next.
The main larger muscles of the neck, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, upper traps and levator scapula, can all have referral patterns outside of the neck. There is more of an assessment needed here, but it is important to keep in mind that if any of these muscles get jacked up, and they often do, that the pain can go down the neck, shoulder, arm or chest.
It is hard to get into too many treatment specifics, but let’s review a few of the things that are generally going to be pretty benign and most people would benefit from.
- Upper Trapezius (hook your arm on a chair and lean your head away)
- Latissimus Dorsi (hold onto something overhead and lean back)
- Pectorals (arms in a doorway and lean forward)
- Deep Cervical Flexors (chin tucks)
- Scapular Retractors (on your stomach and make ITYW shape with arms lifting them up, pulling shoulder blades together and tucking the chin in)
For those of you who are looking for a little more info on preventing neck pain then check out our Free Neck Pain Video Course. Through the course and following the steps above you will be well on your way to keeping away neck pain and avoiding future headaches.
If you are ready to get started right away then do not hesitate to give a call at 610-841-3555 and get started on the path to healing right away.
That’s all for now! Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below and if you sign up for a course you will be able to get to stay on top of all things Robbins Rehab!