Shoulder, arm, or hand problems may stem from the neck. Nerve roots in the cervical spine branch out, form into a group called your brachial plexus, and nerve branches supply your hand and arm. For example, your radial nerve eventually innervates your first three fingers while the ulnar nerve typically innervates the pinky and ring fingers.
Before this occurs, nerve roots originate form the spinal cord in the neck. These nerve roots branch into smaller nerves that eventually supply other areas of the body.
What does this mean?
This essentially means if we have hand weakness, for example, the problem may be in a more distal area or it could be all the way up in the neck. Really, it can be anywhere in the nerve pathway.
How can we tell where the problem starts?
Most times, the problem does typically start from the spine. An x-ray can show us neck alignment and spinal degeneration. Tests done by your chiropractor, orthopedist, or neurologist can also help pinpoint the starting problem area as well. Lastly, a nerve conduction test can specify the area of lost innervation.
Whatever you find, the best thing is to look to the spine. Correcting any problems at the source often helps correct issues out distally. So, one of the first lines of defense is to correct spinal alignment. I would start with using a neck pillow and move to using a home traction device.
Additional Reading Resources:
- Herniated Disc In the Neck
- Neck Pain Resulting From C5, C6, C7, or C8 Radiculopathy
- Using Traction when You have a Herniated Disc
- Two Common Postural Misalignments Created from Forward head posture
- Choosing the Right neck Pillow for your Neck Pain