Your arm appears fine, but you’re experiencing pain and maybe other symptoms in the limb, such as numbness and tingling. If this sounds familiar, the problem may not be located in your arm at all, but, rather, in your spine.
As spine health experts, the team here at Texas Spine Consultants, including Michael Hennessy, MD, Robert Viere, MD, Andrew Park, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, and Heidi Lee, MD, understand the widespread effects that problems in your spine can have, including arm pain.
Your spine plays many important roles, and one of the chief among them is providing passage for your peripheral nervous system. Along your spine, there are 31 nerve roots that branch out to form your peripheral nervous system — eight in your cervical spine (neck), 12 in your thoracic spine (mid back), five in your lumbar spine (lower back), and six that branch out from your sacrum and coccyx.
If you have a problem along your cervical or thoracic spine that’s compressing a nerve root or group of nerves, you can experience symptoms in seemingly unrelated areas as the problem extends down the length of the nerve.
When you’re experiencing unexplained arm pain, this may signal a pinched nerve in your cervical or thoracic spine. Called radiculopathy, this nerve compression affects the function of the nerves that branch out from the nerve roots.
For example, if you have a disc that’s bulging in your neck, it can press up against the nerve root that serves as the foundation of the sensory nerves in your arms and hands.
While we’re discussing arm pain here, other symptoms that often accompany cervical radiculopathy include numbness and tingling in your hands.
While a herniated disc in your neck is one of the primary causes of cervical radiculopathy, the problem can also occur due to degenerative disc disease, cervical spinal stenosis, and arthritis.
The best way to find out whether your arm pain is related to your spine is to come see us. We first review your symptoms and your medical history and then we use advanced imaging, such as an x-ray or an MRI, to get a closer look at the structures in your spine.
If we identify a problem in your neck, we provide you with treatments that should help to resolve the issue, as well as the discomfort in your arm. What these steps are very much depend on the underlying problem and include:
In advanced cases, we may need to go in surgically to relieve the pressure on the nerve roots in your neck.
To get started on finding relief for your arm pain, please contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to set up an appointment.