Neuritis, bursitis, neuralgia, rheumatism, frozen shoulder, fibrositis, sprain and strains are common terms that refer to neck, shoulder and arm conditions. The main controller behind your shoulders, arms and hands is the brain. The brain communicates to the rest of your body through billions of nerves that make up your nervous system. Some nerves go straight to their destination point, but others mix with other nerves to form complicated nerve networks called a ‘plexus.’ The brachial plexus is made up of nerves that come out of the middle and upper back that supply information to the shoulders, arm, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.
The nerves that make up the brachial plexus may become irritated as they leave the spinal column. This can occur when the spinal bones in the neck and upper back are misaligned or do not have the range of motion they typically should and damage the very nerves they are supposed to protect. Any injury or trauma can cause the bones to become misaligned or lock down, decreasing the range of motion. Things as serious as an accident or falling down from an accident, or even as simple as sleeping in an awkward position can create the vertebrae to become misaligned or not work the way they were designed.
Muscles and joints throughout the chest wall and shoulder can also contribute to tightness around the brachial plexus, causing similar symptoms. This can be caused be structural deformities (such as previous shoulder injuries or anatomic variations) or created by lifestyle (such as sitting at a desk or having a sedentary workplace). The pressure placed on the nerves and blood vessels can create numbness, tingling and pain down the arm. This can also be known as “thoracic outlet syndrome”.
Symptoms from damage to the brachial plexus can differ depending on location of the trauma..