Shoulder, Arm & Hand Problems
Chiropractic’s success with shoulder, arm and hand problems is well documented.
Many Names of Shoulder Problems
Neuritis, bursitis, neuralgia, rheumatism, frozen shoulder, fibrosis, sprains, strains, “poor circulation” and rotator cuff problems are some of the terms used to describe neck, shoulder and arm conditions.
What are the symptoms of Shoulder, Arm & Hand Problems?
The shoulder is a complex joint held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Pain in your shoulder or hands can lessen mobility and strength, and hinder your day-to-day activities. Symptoms include:
- Pain that is dull and achy or sharp and severe
- Gradual or sudden onset
- Pain that is triggered or worsened by everyday activities, overuse or exertion, rest or inactivity
- Shoulder and mid back pain is often accompanied by:
- Inability to move shoulder or mid back
- Muscle spasm, numbness, or tingling
- Shoulder or arm weakness or stiffness
- Swelling or visible deformity
- "Frozen Shoulder"
What controls your shoulders, arms and hands? Your brain! Your brain “talks” with the rest of your body through a vast communication system made up of nerves within the central nervous system. Billions of nerves extend from your brain in a large bundle called the spinal cord, travel down your back inside your spinal column and exit between your spinal bones to go to nearly every part of your body.
Some nerves go straight to their point of destination but some first mix with other nerves to form complicated nerve networks called a nerve “plexus.”
The brachial plexus is made up of nerves that come out of the middle and lower neck and upper back. After they form the brachial plexus they branch off to supply different areas, especially the shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.
Brachial Plexus Injury
People sometimes blame their joint or organ problems on “old age” even though they have many other joints and organs that are just as old and have no problems. Irritation to the nerves would be a more accurate analysis.
The nerves that make up the brachial plexus maybe irritated as they exit the spinal column. This may occur when the spinal bones in the neck and upper back are misaligned and "pinch" the very nerves they are supposed to protect.
Nearly any injury or poor posture over time can cause a Bracial Plexus problem. Old injuries such as childhood falls, sports mishaps, car accidents (especially whiplash) and sleeping in an awkward position could effect the spine. Even birth stress can cause spinal nerve damage that can affect the arms, shoulders and hands.
Depending on which brachial plexus nerves are damaged, different symptoms may be experienced. There may be muscle weakness; there maybe neck pain or stiffness with or without pain that extends to the shoulder, arm, wrist, hands or fingers. Sometimes there is no neck pain but pain in the arm, wrist, fingers or hand. Sometimes there’s numbness, sometimes there’s pain and numbness and sometimes there are strange nerve sensations that patients describe as “pins and needles”.
Because of the complicated way the nerves interrelate, headache; migraine; facial pain; dizziness; limited, painful or stiff motion of the head and neck; throat conditions; thyroid and nasal problems; epilepsy and even lower back pain have been reported as a result of neck or brachial nerve plexus irritation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS is now so common that it is called an “occupational disease”. Symptoms include tingling and numbness in the hand, fingers and wrist; pain so intense that it awakens you at night. Interestingly, the cause of CTS often has very little to do with the wrist or hands themselves. “Faulty inervation caused by spinal joint lesions is one of the main factors in the production of wrist swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome, [and] tennis elbow.”1 Increasingly numbers of CTS sufferers are seeking out the non-drug, non-surgical approach that chiropractic offers.
The Chiropractic Approach
Although chiropractic’s success with shoulder, arm, wrist and hand problems is well documented, chiropractic is really not a “treatment” for those problems.
The chiropractic approach to shoulder and hand problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, brachial plexus injury or any health problem is to analyze your structural system to locate and correct a serious nerve-damaging structural condition called a subluxation.
A subluxation is a misalignment of your structural system that puts stress on your nerves, bones, ligaments, discs, tendons, muscles, tissues and internal organs. Your nervous system coordinates and organizes your entire body and its proper functioning is essential for physical and neurological health. If there is any damage to it, the effects can be profound.
Your doctor of chiropractic is specifically trained to locate and correct subluxations. Unless corrected, subluxations in your body can cause or contribute to many health conditions and prevent or interfere with the normal healing process.
After your chiropractor has located your subluxations he or she will adjust or correct them. This will release structural and nerve pressure and help restore the healthy flow of nerve impulses between your brain and your body parts and help rebalance your system.
Many of the problems caused by an unhealthy structural system can be corrected and more serious problems can be prevented by having you and your family checked on a periodic basis. As the ancient Chinese saying reads: “If people paid attention to their little health problems, they wouldn’t have big health problems.“