When a nerve gets compressed or damaged, we call this a pinched or trapped nerve. A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve root – the area where the nerve branches off from the spinal cord – becomes inflamed or injured.
Most common in people aged 50 to 54, people get pinched nerves in different areas of their spine, like their neck, lumbar, or thoracic spine. Pinched nerves in your shoulder are generally related to age-related spinal degeneration and are typically triggered by sudden bending, twisting, or lifting.
If your pinched nerve is severe, it may take medical care to deal with it.
What are the symptoms of a pinched nerve in my shoulder?
It can be tricky to determine whether your pain or discomfort is symptomatic of a pinched nerve or something else. You can even have a pinched nerve without any symptoms!
The most common symptoms of a pinched nerve include muscular weakness, pins and needles, a burning sensation, or numbness. You may also notice pain when you move your head or neck, the inability to move your neck as usual, and outward radiating pain.
If your symptoms are intense, they worsen, or they don’t go away, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with your physiotherapist.
How can I deal with pinched shoulder nerve pain?
If you are experiencing a pinched nerve, chances are you are in a certain amount of pain. You can take some easy measures to sort out this pain at home.
One helpful treatment for shoulder nerve pain is getting into a warm, cosy bed and having some rest. You could also try a hot or cold compress on your shoulder as you watch TV or relax. A soft cervical collar may also help by immobilising your neck.
Another good way to treat and even prevent the pain of a pinched nerve in your shoulder is to practice good posture. Wearing an inexpensive posture corrector when you do things that require moving your shoulders could be a good idea.
Therapies and exercises like massage, yoga and acupuncture may also help with your shoulder nerve pain – but only do these insofar as they are comfortable for you. Check out the range of classes we offer!
If all else fails or the pain is too severe to deal with, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should help dull it.
What exercises can release my pinched nerve?
Depending on the severity of the trapped nerve in your shoulder, you may find that some gentle exercises or stretches help you feel better and get relief.
It doesn’t matter whether you do these exercises standing up or sitting down, but be sure to do them slowly and carefully.
Under normal circumstances, this is one of the easiest motions to do with your neck. But, when you have a pinched nerve in your shoulder, turning your head can be more difficult and quite painful. So, be sure to only turn your head as far as possible without pain.
- While straightening your neck and head, just look forward.
- Now turn your head to the right. Stay like this for 10 seconds.
- Do the same again on the left side.
- If you like, try tilting your head up and down or side to side – as long as this doesn’t hurt.
And that’s all! Do this as many times as you like.
This exercise involves your shoulder more. This can mean it gives you more relief, but the pain is more likely, so be careful.
- Pull your shoulder blades upwards.
- Roll your shoulder blades backwards and down.
- Repeat the exercise this way about five times.
- Try doing this exercise backwards.
This exercise can be extremely helpful depending on where your pinched nerve is. The chin tuck works by lengthening your neck. This reduces any tension in your neck. This “double chin” exercise has the added benefit of improving your head and neck posture.
- Put your hands on your chin.
- Pull your chin down gently towards your neck until it’s a “double chin”.
- Hold this “double chin” position for no longer than five seconds.
- Repeat the chin tuck a few more times.
When you’ve got the hang of the chin tuck, you can even do it without using your hands. There’s also a version of the chin tuck where you tilt your head up to the ceiling too, but avoid this method if it makes you dizzy.
If all these exercises and pain relief methods fail to make you feel better, you should consider booking a physiotherapy treatment with a physiotherapist. At MGS Physio, we have the tools to give you a definitive diagnosis and the expertise to get to the heart of the pain. With our range of therapies and techniques, you can trust us to get to the bottom of things.