Pinched nerve in shoulder symptoms: 6 things to look for

Shoulder pain can interfere with your ability to complete everyday tasks like grabbing something off a high shelf or moving around furniture to clean. There are many injuries and medical conditions that can cause shoulder pain, such as a pinched nerve.

A pinched shoulder nerve affects about 85 out of 100,000 adults in the U.S. annually. But with so many potential causes of shoulder pain, from arthritis to dislocation, it’s not always easy to determine if you have developed a pinched nerve. What symptoms of a pinched nerve in the shoulder should you look for? That’s what we’re here to answer.

Read on to learn about the basics of pinched shoulder nerves, symptoms to look for and how physical therapy can not only alleviate the pain, but also decrease the risk of future shoulder injuries.

The basics of a pinched nerve in the shoulder

Cervical radiculopathy, commonly referred to as a pinched nerve in the neck/shoulder, occurs when a tendon, bone or muscle puts pressure on the nerves that stem from the spinal cord and flows up to your shoulders and neck. It causes the nerves to be compressed and inflamed.

A pinched nerve in the shoulder is often caused by:

  • Disc degeneration.
  • Bone spurs from osteoarthritis.
  • A herniated disc.
  • An injury from an accident or playing sports.

6 symptoms of a pinched nerve in the shoulder

It’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact cause of the discomfort in your shoulder because regardless of the reason, the symptoms always feel like they’re coming from the same exact area. If you suspect that you have developed a pinched nerve in your shoulder, there are a variety of symptoms that you should be aware of.

Here are six symptoms of pinched nerves in the shoulder to be aware of:

  1. Sharp pain in one shoulder that could radiate to the neck and arms. 
  2. Lack of sensation or numbness in the shoulder.
  3. Feeling like your arm is constantly “falling asleep.”
  4. Tingling sensation, or “pins and needles.”
  5. Weak muscles.
  6. Unusual reflexes.

How physical therapy can help alleviate the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the shoulder

Physical therapy is one of the best options for treating a pinched shoulder nerve. It can help alleviate the pain from a pinched nerve in the shoulder as well as improve the joint’s range of motion, strength and flexibility to reduce the risk of future injury or pain. 

Your physical therapist will determine if a pinched nerve is the source of your shoulder pain through physical assessment of your symptoms. Then they can design the best treatment plan for you based on the severity of your condition, your medical history and your physical abilities.

 Your physical therapist may utilize a variety of treatment methods including:

  • Targeted exercises and stretches — Your physical therapist will walk you through exercises and stretches to improve the strength and flexibility of your shoulder muscles. These can help alleviate the pressure being placed on the nerves and increase your range of motion.
  • Manual therapy — One of the most effective ways that a physical therapist can help to alleviate the pain from a pinched nerve in the shoulder is with manual therapy. This refers to pain management that involves the therapist using their hands to manipulate the muscle tissue and decrease the tension that’s causing pain.
  • Dry needling — This is a technique that involves the physical therapist utilizing thin, hollow needles that are inserted directly into the shoulder muscles. The muscles contract around the needle and release the tension that’s causing you pain. Many patients report feeling instant results after a dry needling session, such as reduced pain and increased range of motion.

Back in Motion can help treat the symptoms of a pinched nerve in your shoulder

A pinched nerve in your shoulder can cause pain and muscle weakness that can interfere with your quality of life. The good news is that Back in Motion can provide you with the physical therapy treatments that you need to reduce your pain and improve the overall quality of your shoulder to decrease the risk of future pain or injury. 

With a mix of safe and effective therapeutic exercises, hands-on techniques, and dry needling, our physical therapists can help you return to your normal physical activities.
If you’re ready to treat your pinched shoulder nerve symptoms, be sure to contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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