We have seen an increase in neck and shoulder pain over the past 3 months. Many adults and youth have altered their work stations, up their screen time and changed their daily routine due to Covid. Unfortunately, your body is now paying the price. A compressed nerve root in your neck can cause neck, shoulder, arm and even hand pain. Addressing this early can help you recover faster.
When a nerve root is compressed, damaged or inflamed, you certainly feel it. Commonly known as a pinched nerve, this condition results in numbness, tingling, weakness or a painful sensation, typically around the neck, shoulders or somewhere along the spine.
WHAT CAUSES A PINCHED NERVE?
Nerve signals in the body have been aggravated, amplified or interrupted in some way. Repetitive stress on the neck from sitting for long periods is one common cause. Although older adults are more likely to experience a pinched nerve, several other factors could lead to this condition:
· Sports injury
· Uncomfortable sleep position.
· Car accidents
· Poor posture
· Lifting or bending in sudden movements
· Age-related degeneration to the spine
· Bone growths compressing the nerves
You may feel a pins and needles sensation, weakness or pain in the affected area. The pain gets worse when you’re moving the joint and range of motion is often decreased.
Severe cases may require medical care but for many patients, gentle exercises that target the affected area can help relieve minor nerve pain. These stretches lessen the pressure placed on the nerve and loosen the surrounding muscles. Plan to make these exercises part of your daily routine, two or three times per day.
PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR PAIN RELIEF
Physical therapists help to ease pain, whether from a sports injury or surgical procedure. A pinched nerve can keep you from activities you enjoy; working with one of our PTs can get you back to your life. We’ll determine the root of your pain and alleviate pressure on the nerves with specialized techniques.
The following exercises can be done at home to supplement our work and relieve discomfort in the neck, shoulders and upper back.
This exercise targets the muscles behind your neck to relieve pain stemming from a compressed nerve:
· Slide your right hand under your right thigh
· Take your left hand and use it to tilt your head to the left
· Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing
Involving a folded towel or cloth, this exercise targets the neck area and helps to improve posture:
· Grab the towel or cloth with both hands and hold it behind your head
· Using the towel for resistance, move your head back into it
· Every time you nod back, hold the position for three seconds before releasing
This neck exercise helps lengthen the muscles and improve posture:
· Place two fingers on your chin
· Push downward on your chin, moving it toward your neck
· Hold for three seconds, before releasing your chin
If your neck has low range of motion, try this exercise at a slow pace that won’t cause you pain:
· Straighten your head and neck, so that you’re facing ahead
· Turn your head to the right, as far as you can go
· Hold this position for five to 10 seconds
· Do the same to the left side
SHOULDER ROLLS AND SHRUGS
Try the following exercises to relieve tension and pain in the shoulders and neck area:
· Lift your shoulder blades upward
· Roll them back down to the starting position
· After five or six times, try it in reverse
For shrugs, start by standing then:
· Keep both arms relatively straight at your sides
· Move your shoulders in a rotating motion
· Rotate in the opposite direction to return to the first position
· Do five groups of bends
· Your left hand should sit on the right knee and guide it to the left
· Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, then put everything in reverse
· Wrap both hands around one knee, before pulling it toward your head in an upward motion
· For a greater stretch, start by grabbing the ankle and push it up toward the opposite hip
· Hold each position for 10 seconds before releasing
· Repeat on the other side