Do you have arm or wrist pain, or experience pins and needles, tingling, burning or numbness? It may surprise you to know that your neck may be causing your arm or wrist problems.
When you have pain, you usually suspect the problem is nearby − if you break a bone, that’s where it hurts. However, your spine is different. It’s unique and complex. This complexity means the cervical spine − the neck − can be the origin of arm or wrist pain. But how?
To understand how, it can help to know a little about the structure of your neck, and how your nerves work. Let’s take a look.
Your neck contains seven spine bones called vertebrae, stacked one on top of the other. The top vertebra connects to the skull. Together, they form a ‘tunnel’ which allows your spinal cord to pass safely from your brain to your body. Eight pairs of nerves exit through small openings between your vertebrae and branch off to other areas.
These nerves relay messages to different parts of your body, including your shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. Sometimes the messages tell a muscle what to do, or tell your brain about pressure or feeling. For example, the sixth cervical nerve is responsible for sensation in your wrist, the thumb-side of your forearm, and your thumb.
Your nerves need enough space in your bones to exit freely, but sometimes this space becomes smaller. The nerve can become squashed (compressed) and damaged, changing the way it works.
What does this have to do with pain? If a nerve is damaged in your neck, the messages it sends to your arm or wrist can be interrupted or impaired, too. This is called cervical radiculopathy. You might know this as a ‘pinched nerve’. This can cause pain, weakness or numbness in your arm or wrist (or shoulder or hand).
There is a range of reasons why nerves can become compressed. The best way to find out why your arm or wrist hurts is a professional assessment. We can help determine if your neck is involved, and if so, provide the right advice.
Adam's Back is a team of dedicated complimentary health professionals. Our aim is to support you in finding drug-free solutions for better health.