Arm pain or numbness can be a result of either compressed blood flow or nerve pressure somewhere between the hand and the neck. When a nerve connecting to the arm gets pinched, it can cause severe shooting pain that radiates through and down the arm, mostly on the top or the bottom. Such a pain would usually be experienced in one arm, but in certain cases it could be in both.
Nerve pressure could lead to severe pain in the arm or it could cause numbness or a tingling sensation in the arm or hand. A change in arm position may result in alleviating the pain. For example, raising the arm above the head may result in pain relief.
Patients with arm pain or numbness are sometimes misdiagnosed for carpal tunnel syndrome, whereas the problem may be originating due to a pinched or irritated nerve. By running the proper set of tests, one can identify the exact origination of the problem, which is essential for the treatment.
Following are some of the most common causes of nerve pinching or blood flow compromise that results in arm pain or numbness:
Foramina Encroachment: It is a condition in which the holes on the side of the spine become small or narrow, which results in excessive pressure on the nerves that pass through them. Spinal degenerative changes that result in loss of disc height and bone spurs that are formed into foramen, are most common causes of foramina encroachment.
Peripheral entrapment: It results in pressure on blood vessels or nerves in an area that is away from the spine. This may happen around shoulders, muscles in arm, path through elbow or wrist. Peripheral entrapment happens due to shoulder or arm muscles becoming inflamed or tight, which puts pressure on the nerves or blood vessels passing through them. It may also occur due to shoulder, elbow or wrist bones being misaligned, leading to entrapment of nerves or vessels passing through them.
Herniated or bulging disc in the neck: Herniated disc is a condition in which the soft portion inside the disc bulges out from the rear or side of the disc. Disc is a soft tissue in spine that acts as a shock absorber and it fills the spaces between vertebrae in the spine. Due to weakness or damage, the soft inner portion of the disc gets pushed to the outer edges, creating a bulge. In severe cases, the disc may rupture, resulting in small pieces of the disc breaking free. The most common cause of herniation of disc is the trauma to the neck. However, it may happen in the spine as well, due to weakened discs or degenerative arthritis. The herniated disc may lead to pinched or irritated nerves.
Most cases of arm pain and numbness due to pinching or irritation of nerves or blood vessels can be treated with chiropractic care. The treatment may involve chiropractic adjustments, muscle stimulation, cervical traction, ultrasound, stretching and strengthening exercises, and heat and ice therapy. The benefits of chiropractic care are that it gives fast relief from pain and reduces risk of developing chronic symptoms. Also, the chiropractic treatment is non-invasive and doesnt involve medications, which may have side effects.