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Trapped Nerve in Shoulder

Trapped Nerve in Shoulder

A trapped nerve in shoulder is an extremely painful condition and may even lead to loss of mobility. This article provides some information about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this condition.
Bidisha Mukherjee
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Trapped nerve is often referred to as pinched nerve as well. In this condition, the nerve gets compressed by the muscles, bones, cartilage, and other soft tissues, that are present around it. As a result, the concerned nerve gets inflamed and a pinched sensation is felt in different parts of the body.
Trapped nerve in shoulder usually happens due to excessive strenuous physical activities like running, jogging, or lifting of heavy objects. Poor body posture may also contribute towards this problem. Obese people experience entrapment of nerve in the shoulder, as the nerve is surrounded by a large mass of tissue. Sometimes, it is a symptom of underlying health problems like herniated disc or formation of bone spur.
Symptoms
The nerves that are present in the shoulder region basically come from various sections of the spinal cord. In all, the cervical vertebrae or the neck consists of 8 vertebrae. The nerves that emerge from these vertebrae are often termed in the series of C1-8. Out of these 8, nerve roots from C5 to C8 mostly get trapped in shoulder. The symptoms of a trapped nerve in shoulder blade depends on which of these nerves is causing the trouble.
Trapped C5 nerve gives swelling, weakness, and numbness in shoulder muscles and results in a sharp shoulder pain. This in turn affects the normal movements of the arms. Trapped C6 nerve roots gives a radiating shoulder pain which often moves down to the arm and thumb. At times, it may weaken the biceps and wrist muscles as well. The numbing and tingling effect of entrapment of C7 nerve root can be felt mainly on the forearm area particularly the index and middle finger. If the C8 nerve gets trapped, then the lateral part of the hand gets affected. Thus, the numbness and pain is experienced on the ring and pinky finger.
Treatment
This medical condition is diagnosed with the help of a physical examination of the shoulder and adjoining area, history of physical activities of the affected person, and accompanying symptoms. In some serious cases, MRI scan and blood tests are conducted to check out if it is a sign of some other health problem. Any trapped nerve symptoms tend to worsen further with physical movements. Hence, the affected people are advised to provide complete rest to the affected nerve and the surrounding tissues. It is recommended that they sleep straight on their back in order to ease off the pressure from the shoulder region.
Heat and cold application alternatively, can provide relief from pain and nerve inflammation. If the pain is too much, then doctors prescribe muscle relaxers and pain killers to bring down the pain. In some cases, cortisone injections are given. Usually, it takes around one week to recover from this kind of injury.
However, if the painful symptoms continue for several months, then surgery is required. Moreover, if it is caused by a herniated disk or bone spur, then those problems need to be addressed first in order to get relief from trapped nerve. There are some alternative methods of treatments like physical therapy and acupuncture that have worked wonders on some people with shoulder nerve entrapment.
When the pain and other accompanying symptoms subside, one should start doing some pinched nerve exercises, before resuming normal physical activities. These exercises would help restore strength and flexibility to the shoulder muscles. If one is looking for ways to prevent a trapped nerve in the shoulder and neck, then he/she should maintain a correct body posture, eat healthy food, and do exercises regularly to maintain a healthy body weight.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.