Is a Back Issue Causing My Arm Pain?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: November 12, 2015

back pain and arm pain

Your spinal cord acts as the central highway to send and receive signals throughout your body, so it’s easy to see why a back problem can impact these nerves and cause issues in other areas of your body. One such area that can be affected by a back injury is your arms. Today, we take a closer look at how back problems affect your arms, and how you can treat the issue.

What’s Causing My Arm Pain?

As we mentioned above, your central nervous system is a complex system that allows you to carry out normal functions, like walking, lifting weights or throwing a football. The spinal canal houses the spinal cord, but nerves also branch off to your extremities. If you suffer a back injury, it can disrupt the way electrical impulses flow throughout your body, and this disruption can cause pain or discomfort.

Oftentimes pain in your arms caused by a back problem are due to an issue with the thoracic part of your spine – the middle and upper back located beneath cervical portion of your spine. Nerves in this area branch out to the shoulders and arms, so an acute injury to the upper back often impacts arm and shoulder mobility.

Some of the most common causes of back-related arm pain include:

Symptoms and Treatment of Back-Related Arm Pain

Symptoms of back-related arm pain vary. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, but in general, arm discomfort caused by a back issue is associated with pain, a pins and needle-like sensation, arm numbness and weakness, difficulty moving or straightening your arms and decreased grip strength.

As with most issues, there are surgical and non-surgical treatment options for arm issues caused by a problem in your back. Generally your doctor will recommend a course of stretches that work out the thoracic and lumbar regions of your spine. Patients will then progress to physical exercises to strengthen the problem area of their spine. Depending on the root cause of the problem, doctors may also recommend ice or heat therapy, pain relieving medications or massage therapy.

If those treatments fail, or if the doctor determines that your condition won’t heal with conservative methods, they’ll walk you through your surgical options. Oftentimes the condition can be treated with a minimally invasive operation followed by rehab, but if a significant issue like a tumor is causing the problem, then an open surgery may be necessary.

So if you’re dealing with bouts of shooting pain or weakness in your arms, don’t just assume the issue is being caused by a problem in your arm. Speak to a back specialist to ensure you get the correct diagnosis so treatment can begin right away.

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