Carolina Beach Physical Therapy

Carolina Beach Physical Therapy

By / Local Businesses / Tuesday, 23 March 2021 02:55

We’ve all done it: slept funny and woke up with a crick in the neck. The cause of your pain is obvious, and usually it will work itself out in a few hours or days. But what if you woke up with your neck feeling fine, yet you have shooting, burning, or tingling pain into your shoulder blade, upper back, arm, or hand?  Ok, maybe you slept funny on your arm. Or maybe your pain is coming from your neck, but is being felt in another area of the body. This is known as radicular pain.
Radicular pain is caused by a pinched nerve, usually in the neck or lower back. It is a common cause of arm or leg pain in people over the age of 50 often as a result of arthritis, trauma, or repetitive motions. As a physical therapist, when I explain to patients that their shin pain or arm pain might be coming from a pinched nerve near the spine I am usually met with a skeptical look followed by, “Well my back/neck doesn’t hurt!” However, when dealing with a pinched nerve it is not unusual to have little or no pain at the injury site. Yet the arm or leg pain that corelates with that nerve is often fierce and described as electrical, shooting, hot, burning, tingling, or numb. Sometimes patients might notice a loss of strength or coordination as well.
Picture your spine as a tree trunk, and the branches are the nerves that come from your spine and go down your arms and legs. If you pinch the branch close to the tree trunk, everything on that branch will be affected, but the trunk will be unharmed. Or as my co-worker Greg likes to say, “If your nerve is a garden hose, a kink in the hose can stop the water flow even if the hose bib is on full force.” Using these analogies, you can see how it is possible to pinch one of the nerves very close to the spine without experiencing neck or back pain. If you have radicular pain, don’t despair! There is help available that can alleviate your symptoms without surgery. First and foremost, your doctor or physical therapist can do certain tests such as strength, range of motion, and movement analysis to determine if the pain is coming from a pinched nerve. After determining that your pain is from a pinched nerve, if you aren’t already working with a physical therapist getting a referral to one is probably a good idea. As physical therapists, we are trained in techniques that can open up the spaces in the spine and relax the muscles around the pinched nerve. In other words, we can undo that kink in the hose. Once the pressure on the nerve is reduced, we will guide you through exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles that may have been affected. We can teach you how to prevent the pinch from happening again or how to undo the kink on your own should it come back in the future. Finally, we will also show you how to do certain activities, such as working on the computer or watching tv, without putting extra strain on that tree branch.
Radicular pain can be very confusing and frustrating. If you have arm or leg pain that is not responding to rest, ice, and elevation it is always a good idea to have it evaluated. Remember that sometimes fixing a tree branch or garden hose is all you need to “move better and live better.”

1300 Bridge Barrier Rd., Building 3

Carolina Beach, NC 28428

910-636-3574

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