When you have a pinched nerve in your shoulder blade, the first sign is pain in some area of your body. Also known as a trapped nerve, this is a condition in which the nerve gets “trapped” by the body, or compressed by the muscles, bones, cartilage and other tissues around it. This can be caused by numerous things, including excessive exercise or strenuous movement. Simple home remedies help relieve symptoms while severe conditions should seek professional help.
The symptoms of a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade are often very clear – you will probably feel plenty of pain, as well as weakness in the area and a tingling or numbing sensation. These might be temporary, or they might be there to stay. Interestingly, most of these sensations come from the C5 nerve, which is located in the neck – not in the shoulder blade. But the pinching of a nerve in this area can make the pain appear in the shoulders.
The pain of a pinched nerve is different for everyone. It might be a burning sensation, or it might take the form of shooting pains. You might also have headaches or neck pain. This might be caused by the nerve itself, or by muscle spasms that occur around the nerve. Moving around might help the pain, but if it persists, you might have a serious condition that a doctor should evaluate.
You might feel a weakness in the muscles of the shoulder, making it difficult to lift things. In fact, you might not be able to lift your hand above your head. This weakness might be only in your hand, or in your entire arm. If the weakness becomes severe, it is time to get to the doctor.
The feeling of your arm “falling asleep” or being on “pins and needles” is an accurate way to describe the tingling that can come with a pinched nerve in your shoulder blade. These symptoms might come and go, or they might be constant. Sometimes it will subside quickly, especially with movement.
The pain and other symptoms you feel depend upon which nerve has been pinched, and how bad the problem is. In most cases, the problem will be minor and will disappear after a certain period of time. But for other cases that linger, you might have a more serious problem.
When you visit your doctor with a complaint of a pinched nerve in shoulder blade, you can expect to go through basic tests that look for weakness, loss of muscle tone or pain in certain areas of your arm or shoulder. If the doctor suspects a compressed nerve, you might then undergo x-rays, an MRI or a CT scan to pinpoint the problem and help the doctor find a solution. You might also undergo a nerve conduction study or electromyography.
When it is determined that you do have a pinched nerve, there are many things your doctor can do to help with the problem. Many of those treatments can be easily handled at home. It can also be caused by poor body posture, obesity, lifting heavy objects or serious physical conditions, such as a herniated disc or a bone spur. So it is important to treat the underlying causes.
Complete rest of the area can help a pinched nerve heal. This means not moving your hand or arm if you can avoid it, and even sleeping flat on your back to reduce the pressure that might be causing a problem with the pinched nerve. Depending upon which nerve is effected, your doctor might have more specific instructions for resting the area.
Pain and nerve inflammation can often be helped with an alternating treatment of hot and cold. In most cases, this means applying a cold pack to the area for 15 minutes, followed by the application of a heating pad for 15 minutes. Alternate these treatments until you are feeling some relief from the pain.
There are many medications that can help with a pinched nerve. Often over the counter medications, such as ibuprofen, naproxen or Tylenol can help with the pain. Some medications used specifically for nerve pain include Lyrica or Neurontin. Muscle relaxants might also be prescribed. You can start with the over the counter medications for pinched nerve pain that isn’t severe.
Injections of cortisone have been shown to help with nerve pain. If the injections don’t help, surgery might be an option. This is usually a last resort that is taken when nothing else seems to work to help alleviate the pain, or when the nerve is becoming damaged in a way that can’t be reversed without surgical intervention.
There are other options that might work well for those who can’t find relief in other ways. Physical therapy can help you stretch and lengthen certain muscles, which can then relieve the pressure on the pinched nerve. Acupuncture and certain exercises can also help. Maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy weight are also great ways to relieve the pain. Finally, don’t forget that correct body posture can help you overcome a pinched nerve in the shoulder.