National Back Awareness


Shoulder and Arm Pain

Shoulder and arm pain treatmentEver wondered where that pain in your arm or shoulder is coming from? With this being National Back Pain awareness week, it's helpful to know that pain in your arm may actually be coming from your back and osteopathy is here to help!

Is it coming from the Back?

On certain occasions shoulder or arm can be painful even though nothing is wrong with the shoulder or the arm! In these cases it may be possible the neck is the cause of the pain and discomfort. Even more perplexing the patient may say they don't have a neck problem. This is a common phenomena seen by clinicians every day.

Causes of Shoulder and Arm pain from the back

There are ways in which pain can appear in the shoulder or arm, and in these cases the treatment needs to be in the neck.

1. Trapped Nerve

painful areas of the armNerves follow a predefined course from the vertebrae in your neck into and down your arm to your hand. This complex motorway of nerves allows us to move our limbs and feel sensation see image.

Sometimes, one or more of these nerves get trapped where they exit the spine and cause pain / tingling somewhere along its course. This can result in symptoms in the shoulder, upper arm, forearm or fingers. We use the site of pain to our advantage by tracing the nerve back to where it's pinched in the neck. That's the reason why people are often asked to identify exactly where the pain is or which fingers are affected. Each of the numbers in the image tell us where to look in the neck.

2. Referred Pain
There are cases of arm and shoulder pain where the nerve itself isn't trapped but the root of the problem is still stemming from the back. This is a phenomenon called Referred Pain. And similarly, it's only by fixing the issue in your back can we alleviate your arm symptoms.

3. Posture
We all know good posture is important, maintaining it, however, can be difficult especially with long commutes, desk work and stress. But did you know that bad posture can be another cause of shoulder and arm pain?
Sitting or standing with the back in a slouched position changes the mechanics of your shoulders and they tend to round forwards. Your arms are now in a position that's likely to put strain on the muscles and joints in your shoulders which can, over time, become very sore!
Osteopaths can gently stretch your back, open up your chest and realign your body back to its neutral position, thus reducing the strain on your arms making day to day life pain free.
We can also provide you with useful advice on how you can improve your posture yourself. Here is a simple exercise you can do to loosen your shoulders to get you started.

Top Tips for Beating Shoulder and Arm Pain

1.  Avoid sleeping on the painful side

2.  Better way of using a cell phone or tablet:

3.  Free Exercise PDF


Robert Ballard MOst, DO

Cranial Osteopath
Children Osteopath

Call 0208 946 2331 to see how we we can help you today.



NOTE: all advice and exercises are for guidance only. Every pain is different. These exercises may not agree with every back-pain complaint, so please stop immediately if pain arises. You are adviced to seek professional help before following the advice or exercises.