The function of the arm is to allow for movement of the wrist and hand. Various muscles initiate the arm’s actions, large muscles flex and extend, pronate and supinate, and the more sensitive muscles allow fine motor control. Lifting capacity and grip strength come from the arm muscles, making them essential for all types of activities. Because of the many functions and jobs the hands and arms do, added stress is placed on them. Arm discomfort symptoms, radiating pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling are common conditions. Chiropractic care can relieve injury symptoms and restore mobility and function.
Arm Discomfort Symptoms
The muscles of the upper arm, the biceps, and the triceps, control the movement and positioning of the elbow joint, and the muscles of the forearm control the wrist and hand. There are 30 bones from the top of the arm to the tip of the finger that include:
- The humerus in the upper arm.
- Ulna and radius in the forearm.
- Carpal bones in the wrist.
- Metacarpals and phalanges make up the hand and fingers.
- The joints allow movement between the bones and are stabilized by ligaments and joint capsules.
Discomfort or Radiation
Symptoms vary based on the severity of the injury but commonly include.
- Arm range of motion decreased.
- Edema during activity.
- Muscle weakness.
- Numbness and tingling in the elbow, forearm, or hand can develop.
- Pain sensations often radiate to other areas.
Individuals that work with their hands related to work, home tasks, sports, or hobby activities, such as construction workers, hair stylists, store cashiers, graphic artists, automotive technicians, carpenters, painters, butchers, and more, have an increased risk of injury and developing chronic conditions. Work that involves manually cutting, writing, typing, gripping, operating motorized tools, hair clippers, working with animals, etc., makes the arms susceptible to injury from the constant stress on the ligaments. Common overuse injuries affecting the upper extremity include:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
- These conditions involve the nerves of the forearm.
- Prolonged or repetitive bending or flexing of the wrist or elbow can generate swelling pressure that compresses the nerve/s.
- Symptoms include numbness, coldness, tingling, and/or weakness in the hand and fingers.
Tennis, Golfer, and Pitcher Elbow
- These conditions involve the inflammation of the tendon structures surrounding the elbow joint.
- Repeating the same motion over and over causes damage.
- This leads to tenderness and pain inside and surrounding the elbow.
De Quervain’s Tendinosis
- Tendinosis refers to inflammation of the tendons.
- De Quervain’s syndrome affects tendon structure in the wrist.
- Swelling near the base of the thumb.
- Individuals have difficulty grasping objects.
- This is common for landscapers, gardeners, and sports where constant gripping is involved.
- Tendons attach muscles and bones
- The condition causes tendon inflammation, presenting pain in the area around single or multiple joints.
- Common types include wrist tendonitis, pitcher’s shoulder, and swimmer’s shoulder.
- Overuse and frequent stress from continuous motion can wear tendons to the point of partial or complete tearing.
- Rotator cuff tears in the shoulder are often caused by overuse wearing down.
Chiropractic and massage therapy can rehabilitate arm injuries, restore function and reduce arm discomfort symptoms. Treatment includes:
- Ice or heat treatment.
- Manual therapy – soft tissue massage and trigger point alleviation.
- Joint mobilization.
- Taping or bracing support.
- Rehabilitation targeted exercises.
- Work and sports modification training.
- Training on upper extremity overuse, practicing caution, and knowing when to seek professional medical help.
Shoulder Pain Rehabilitation
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Verhagen, Arianne P et al. “Conservative interventions for treating work-related complaints of the arm, neck or shoulder in adults.” The Cochrane Database of systematic reviews vol. 2013,12 CD008742. 12 Dec. 2013, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008742.pub2
Zaremski, Jason L et al. “Sport Specialization and Overuse Injuries in Adolescent Throwing Athletes: A Narrative Review.” Journal of athletic training vol. 54,10 (2019): 1030-1039. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-333-18
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