A pinched nerve in the shoulder, also known as a compressed or entrapped nerve, can be incredibly painful and debilitating. The good news is that most cases of pinched nerves will resolve itself with rest or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, but there is a point when you should seek medical intervention for a pinched nerve in the shoulder.
The suprascapular nerve can become compressed or restricted, either due to direct trauma or due to overuse injury. Shoulder dislocations, labral tears or cysts can all press on the nerve. Repeated overhead movements can result in a pinched nerve in the shoulder so this can be a common problem for athletes such as swimmers or tennis players, or those who work in certain jobs.
What are the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the shoulder?
A pinched or compressed nerve will cause pain and numbness in the shoulder region. You may also experience muscle weakness that extends down the arm to the hand and neck pain when you turn your head. As well as numbness, you may find you have tingling in the hand and fingers.
Your shoulder specialist will take account of your symptoms when diagnosing the cause of the pinched nerve and determine the amount of pain you’re experiencing and how your range of movement is affected. An X-ray or CT scan be used to identify any bones that may be pressing on the nerve and an MRI will assess the soft tissue and nerves.
How is a pinched nerve in the shoulder treated?
Depending on the cause of the pinched nerve, how severe the pain you’re experiencing is and how it’s impacting on your ability to perform daily activities, your shoulder specialist will typically advise a non-surgical approach first.
Non-surgical treatments for a pinched nerve include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and oral and injectable corticosteroids to target inflammation and swelling. Physical therapy and lifestyle changes are also advised, but if a non-surgical approach fails to produce a decrease in pain and increase in function, surgery may be recommended.
Arthroscopic decompression of the suprascapular nerve is done through small keyholes, cutting the ligament above the nerve to allow more space. This procedure should result in full movement and reduction of symptoms.
If you’re worried you’re suffering from a pinched nerve in the shoulder, call 0203 195 2442 to arrange a consultation with the London Shoulder Specialists.