Neck-arm pain or Neck-Arm Syndrome, are household terms which contains a variety of conditions that affects the neck or upper back and also includes some symptoms that affects the arm as well. However, the most common type of Neck-Arm Pain is the Neck-Shoulder Pain which would be discussed below;
Neck and Shoulder Pain
In the neck and shoulders, there are muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, veins, ligaments, and other supporting structures. So many conditions can cause pain in the neck and shoulder region of the human body. Some are life threatening conditions such as; shocks and major traumas, and others are not so life-threatening, for example; simple strains or contusions.
What are the possible symptoms of neck and shoulder pain?
- Color Changes to The Arm or Shoulder Can Be Observed
- Presence of Swelling to The Whole Arm
Now that we know the symptoms of neck and shoulder pain, let’s look at some of the possible causes of this condition.
- Whiplash Injury
- Gallbladder Disease (Referred Pain)
- Rotator-Cuff Injuries
- Broken Shoulder Blade
- Heart Attacks (Referred Pain)
All of these and many more would cause neck and shoulder pain. Let’s get back to the main subject matter which is, “Neck-Arm Pain.”
Neck-arm pain is very specific to bodily dysfunctions that refer symptoms down the arm and very possibly cause abnormal neural tension or compression.
What Are the Likely Causes of Abnormal Neural Tension?
This refers to the amount of strain on a nerve that is at rest and in movement. An abnormal increase in neural tension happens when the nerve involved becomes caught, restricted or trapped anywhere along its course or path.
The common causes for this includes;
- Presence of A Restriction in Neck Joint Mobility
- Inflammation of A Soft Tissue Interface
- Muscle Spasms Around the Neck
However, neural tension can be regulated (increased or decreased) by changing the position of the arm. Placing the arm at different positions will have a target-effect on its nerve branches.
What Are the Likely Symptoms of Neck-Arm Pain?
Knowing the symptoms of neck-arm pain is very key in combating this condition, as it would enable the sufferer to seek medical intervention on time. Below are the symptoms of neck-arm pain;
- Pins and needles sensation is felt in the arm
- There is numbness of the affected area of the body
- Presence of severe pain in the neck
- Stiffness of the neck that is accompanied with soreness
- Constant radiation of burning, sharp or sometimes dull pain down the arm
Take note: The location of the symptoms matches with the muscles and skin innervated by the nerve that is affected. In essence, the symptoms are always nerve-specific.
What Are the Possible Causes of Neck-Arm Pain?
There are tons of underlying conditions that could result to pain being felt in the neck and arm region of the body. Some of the likely conditions are slated below;
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Presence of repetitive strain injury
- Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve)
- Presence of abnormal neuro-dynamics
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
How Can Neck-Arm Pain Be Diagnosed?
Collecting the right information about the symptoms would be useful in differentiating between neck-arm syndrome and other conditions that causes similar pain as well to the arm.
The physiotherapist in charge can identify abnormal neural tension by moving the arm in specific positions to test for movement of the nerves as they travel down the arm.
The range of movement of the affected side is compared to that of the unaffected area, after which, the abnormal tension is then detected. Once this has been achieved by the physiotherapist, series of tests would be conducted to determine the area and structures which have been affected and are restricting the movements of the nerve in question.
Treatment of Neck-Arm Pain
Treatment of neck-arm pain typically involves an array of rehabilitation programs or therapies. Furthermore, the abnormal neural tension normally gets resolved with treatment of the primary dysfunction. And very commonly, this within the neck or upper back joints where the nerve exits the spinal canal.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are also highly effective when it comes to treating neck-arm pain. Other alternative regimens that are also used includes; thermal therapy, acupuncture, electrotherapy, taping techniques, soft tissue massage, joint mobilization and alignment techniques, muscle stretches and neuro-dynamic exercises. All this and many more can be used to reduce pain and inflammation, restore full joint movement and normalize muscle activities at the primary site of the dysfunction.
At Southlake Pain Center, Cervical Inter-Laminar Epidural Steroid Injection is highly effective in Neck-Arm Pain Rehabilitation Treatment.