“I move, therefore I am.” – Haruki Murakami
Movement is so essential and fundamental for our existence that we often give it little thought. It’s as natural to most of us as breathing – we move our bodies without thought and without conscious effort.
Until we can’t move, or until it hurts to move.
And one of the most common reasons behind painful movement, especially in our shoulders, is a pinched nerve.
When Nerves Become Impinged
Living with the pain and discomfort of a pinched, or impinged, nerve is unsettling. The pain and discomfort can be constant or erratic, crippling or merely annoying. Yet it is almost always a pain that never seems to dissipate or “go away” on its own.
Nerve impingement is an actual blockage in a nerve pathway caused by a physiological structure such as scar tissue or misplaced bone tissue. When the pressure on the nerve prevents it from relaying messages, it can simply stop functioning.
While shoulder pain can be rooted in a variety of causes, such as tendonitis, arthritis, torn cartilage, and many other conditions and injuries, another common cause of shoulder pain is a pinched nerve in the upper spine, also known as cervical radiculopathy.
An article in Medical News Today explains it this way,
“A pinched nerve in the shoulder occurs when a nearby structure irritates or presses on a nerve coming from the neck. This can lead to shoulder pain and numbness of the arm and hand. Doctors may also refer to a pinched nerve in the shoulder arising from the neck as cervical radiculopathy.”
For example, an acute injury or dysfunctional changes to the body over time can cause a pinched nerve in the shoulder. One common scenario is when a nerve becomes pinched by a joint that is out of alignment, or by overly tight muscles. It can also occur as the result of a whiplash injury, a sports injury, or even something as innocuous as sleeping wrong.
Most often, a pinched nerve in the shoulder occurs when abnormal pressure is applied to a nerve in the neck by the surrounding tissue, such as cartilage, tendons, bones, or muscles. The result can be muscle weakness, numbness, pain, and a tingling sensation that radiates along the shoulders from the neck or spine.
From a Pain in the Neck to Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain from a pinched nerve usually originates from the spinal disc area in your neck, known as the cervical spine. These seven cervical vertebrae are numbered C1 through C7. The pinched nerves that often cause shoulder pain radiate from the C6 and C7 vertebrae.
The nerves that run through the openings between the C6 and C7 vertebrae travel down through your shoulder blades and, when obstructed or pinched, can cause chronic pain and muscle spasms. A pinched nerve, however, is usually caused by a combination of both joint and soft tissue problems.
These joints have been injured, overused, or are out of alignment and the result can be the irritation and ‘pinching’ of the nerves around them. In addition, repetitive hand, wrist or shoulder movements, such as assembly line work, can lead to pain and other symptoms. Prolonged repetitive motion or chronic overuse causes the bones and muscles in a joint to gradually become stiff and weakened.
As the joint nears its breaking point, a “wrong move” at the right time by bending over to pick something up, sleeping incorrectly or simply a sudden motion, can result in a pinched nerve and subsequent pain.
But there is a way to find relief that doesn’t involve medications or surgery.
How Active Release Technique® can Relieve Pain from a Pinched Nerve in Your Shoulder
First, it’s important for you to understand how Active Release Technique® can treat a pinched nerve in your shoulder.
Active Release Technique® or ART® is a patented, soft tissue system that is essentially a movement-based massage technique to treat pain issues arising problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, scar tissue or adhesions, and nerves.
In addition to pinched nerve pain in the shoulders, this technique is applied to relieve chronic pain resulting from carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and sciatica. Many of these issues have one thing in common, and that is that they are often a result of overused muscles.
How does it work?
By breaking up adhered and unhealthy tissues in the body. When your muscles are exposed to an unusual amount of stress, your body attempts to reinforce the muscles through increasing tension and laying down collagen fibers. While these collagen fibers and tension help adapt the body to the specific stress it is being exposed to, these adaptations may also prevent proper tissue movement and, ultimately, to a pinched nerve.
Your treatment by us with Active Release Technique® begins with a physical exam. After we develop a diagnosis based on your history and the examination, treatment can begin. ART® functions as a diagnostic tool that allows us to detect soft tissue injuries from scar tissue. We can determine where the adhesions are and how severe the soft tissue injury is, simply by touch.
This means that ART® is most often performed with direct contact with the patient’s skin. We will find the area that needs to be worked on and either direct you to actively move a body part or move the body part for you. Our manual contact coupled with your own movements is what allows the adhesions to separate.
Finding Pain Relief Requires a First Step
Regardless of our health and level of physical fitness, we can suffer from recurring or chronic pain. And the first step in finding relief from the pain – and eventually being pain-free – is when we get to know you and your pain issues.
Once you make your first appointment with Pain and Performance Solutions, we’ll sit down with you and learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain.
After providing you with a full examination, we can then determine the best form of treatment that will help you along your road to recovery.
Often, when pain occurs, our bodies will try to compensate for the pain in order to allow us to get through the day with less pain. However, because our bodies have shifted that pain around to compensate for our discomfort, this often leads to other areas of pain.
Getting chronic pain relief with therapies such as Active Release Technique® and Anatomy in Motion can only begin when we can understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.
Your trust in us and your transparency are key. Getting your body to work properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have.