Neck, Shoulder & Arm
Neck, shoulder and arm issues can range from whiplash to neck pain, arthritis, pain after back surgery, carpal tunnel syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, and stenosis.
Spinal stenosis comes from pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves after narrowing of spaces in the spine. Multiple areas of narrowing may be involved: the canal in the spinal column; the canals at the roots of nerves branching out from the spinal cord; or the openings between vertebrae where nerves leave the spine. Pressure in the upper or lower spinal cord may create pain or numbness in parts of the body. Spinal stenosis is mostly seen in people over 50.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, is a chronic condition of pain that usually affects arms, legs, hands or feet, often after an injury. Along with pain, there may be changes in skin color, temperature and swelling in the painful area. The cause of CRPS is believed to be connected to damage to or dysfunction of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system (nerves in the rest of the body linked to the central nervous system).
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often caused by a combination of factors that may include hereditary predisposition, injury, repetitive use and work stress. The median nerve runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand. When it is squeezed at the wrist, pain, weakness and numbness may result in the hand, wrist and arm. The carpal tunnel is the narrow passage at the base of the hand that houses the median nerve; thickening of irritated tendons or swelling can narrow the tunnel and squeeze the nerve.
Post-laminectomy syndrome is characterized by chronic pain that follows back surgery. Sometimes called “failed back syndrome,” it can be caused by pressure on a spinal nerve, hindered joint mobility, scar tissue, spinal disc herniation, depression and sleeplessness. Pain may involve the legs as well as the back.
More than 50 million Americans have arthritis, a term that encompasses more than a hundred types of joint diseases and conditions. It can affect adults and children, though women and older people are affected more. It can cause pain, swelling, stiffness and permanent joint changes. Some forms affect other parts of the body as well. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which occurs when cartilage wears away, forcing bone to rub against bone. Other forms are inflammatory, due to a wayward immune system; metabolic, due to high levels of uric acid in the body; and infections, caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi.
Neck pain, sometimes called cervical pain, can have a number of causes, from poor posture to strains, wear on the joints, nerve compression, a herniated disc, disease or injury. Along with pain, there may be tightness and spasms, limited range of motion and headache.
An auto accident can result in a neck injury called whiplash, characterized by a the neck “whipping” forward and back. This kind of injury often occurs when a car is rear-ended, although trauma or another kind of accident or athletic injury may also cause whiplash. Also sometimes called a neck strain, whiplash can result in neck pain, tightness or stiffness, headaches, tenderness and pain during movements.