We have had a rash of patients with neck and arm pain. Carpal tunnel (wrist) pain can be confused with pain that originates at the neck. What we are seeing has to do with what we call an "upper cross" syndrome. The muscles of the chest (pectoralis) and neck (scalenes) are shortened pulling the head and shoulders forward. The muscles of the upper and mid-back are lengthened and weak, further allowing a forward head and shoulder posture. In this posture there is significant pressure on the neurovascular bundle, decreasing blood flow and nerve impulses to the arms. If you happen to have a job where you sit at a computer for hours a day, you are set up for an over-use syndrome of the muscles of the forearm. If you are a tennis player with this postural outlook, you are destined for a shoulder impingement.
In physical therapy we use manual soft tissue techniques to soften and stretch the tight muscles. We often mobilize the first rib to open up and give space to the nerve plexus passing between that rib and the collarbone (clavicle). We instruct flexibility exercises for the tight chest muscles and strengthening exercises for the lengthened weak back muscles. We focus on postural strengthening which includes abdominals and the small muscles throughout the spine. It takes work on the client's part, but the pathological posture can be changed, the neck and arm pain is alleviated and homeostasis is returned!!
Hurray for feeling good!!
15 minute free consultations, by appointment. 992-4995.
Santa Fe Sports Med & Rehab, Inc at El Gancho.