Shoulder, Arm & Hand Problems
Your brain “talks” with the rest of your body through a vast communications system mostly made up of nerves. Some nerves go straight to their destination and others first form nerve networks called a plexus. You have a number of these nerve plexuses in your body: the cervical plexus on each side of your neck; your brachial plexus near your shoulders; the solar plexus near your stomach; and many, many others, both large and small.
Your brachial plexus is made up of nerves, which come out of the middle and lower neck and upper back. After they interconnect to form the brachial plexus, they branch off to supply different areas, especially the shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.
The most common form of brachial plexus damage is damage to the nerves that make up the brachial plexus as they exit the spinal column through openings between the bones (foramina). If the openings become smaller, the nerves may become compressed or impinged (commonly called “pinched”).
What causes the nerves to get impinged or “pinched”? Many things: long-standing spinal stress, old injuries from childhood, new injuries from sports mishaps (especially racquet sports), car accidents (especially whiplash), arthritis, sleeping in awkward positions and even chronic emotional stress.
Depending on which brachial plexus nerves are involved, different symptoms and problems may be experienced.
There may be neck stiffness or pain that may radiate to the shoulder and elbow and down to the arm, wrist, hand or finger(s). Sometimes there is clicking or extremity pain but not neck pain. Sometimes there is no pain but numbness or feelings of heat, cold or swelling; or pain in one area and numbness in another; or “pins and needles” or muscle weakness and spasm.
Due to the complicated way nerves interrelate, conditions such as headache; migraine; facial pain; dizziness; limited, painful or stiff motion of the head and neck; throat conditions; thyroid; nasal problems; low back pain and even epilepsy have been reported as being caused by brachial plexus damage.
Chiropractic care is essential for anyone with shoulder, arm, elbow, and hand problems to relieve nerve stress and permit the spine, as well as the rest of the body, to function more normally.