Numbness in the fingers, sore arm and tight shoulder sound like there are three different pains in three different spots but have you think about they can be related and caused by the problem in your cervical (neck) and/or thoracic (upper back) spines? We usually diagnosed this as “cervical radiculopathy”. This sort of pain can be easily misdiagnosed and treated individually as arm pain, shoulder pain or elbow pain by itself. In this case, you might not get a full relieve from the pain and recover later.
WHAT IS CERVICAL RADICULOPATHY?
Cervical radiculopathy is the damage or disturbance of nerve function that results if one of the nerve roots near the cervical vertebrae is compressed. Damage to nerve roots in the cervical area can cause pain and the loss of sensation along the nerve’s pathway into the arm and hand, depending on where the damaged roots are located.
CAUSES OF CERVICAL RADICULOPATHY
Damage can occur as a result of pressure from material from a ruptured disc, degenerative changes in bones, arthritis or other injuries that put pressure on the nerve roots. In middle-aged people, normal degenerative changes in the discs can cause pressure on nerve roots. In younger people, cervical radiculopathy tends to be the result of a ruptured disc, perhaps as a result of trauma. This disc material then compresses or inflames the nerve root, causing pain. Another common cause is due to long term of poor posture from using laptop/smart phone or jobs that involve a lot of heavy lifting.
SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL RADICULOPATHY
The main symptom of cervical radiculopathy is pain that spreads into the arm, neck, chest, upper back and/or shoulders. A person with radiculopathy may experience muscle weakness and/or numbness or tingling in fingers or hands. Other symptoms may include lack of coordination, especially in the hands. It usually happens on one side but it can happen on both sides of your arms too.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE HELP?
Quite often patients with Cervical Radiculopathy have very stiff neck, shoulder and upper back muscles but the pain is mainly caused by the nerve pain originated from the spine. Therefore, we will acupuncture on the back where needles do a fantastic job to relieve nerve pain and relax the muscles at the same time. As a result, you will feel your shoulder is relaxed and the pain or numbness in your arm and hand will disappear gradually after some treatment sessions.