Sparks Tribune: Your Health: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Arm pain: a pain in the neck

Dr. Lali Sekhon, MD

Neck problems are common and arm pain is commonly associated with a neck problem. In the absence of injury, pain, numbness or tingling in the arms can be related to a neck problem. Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, where there is pinching of a nerve in the wrist, usually don’t have neck pain. About 80 percent of us will have some sort of neck problem as we get older.

Why do we get neck problems? There are probably two different causes related to age. At the younger spectrum, patients aged 20-45 typically tear the outside of a disc in the neck. The discs are the shock absorbers have a firm outer gristle. If this outside tears (typically with a twist or shear) the inside can squeeze out like toothpaste. Initially neck pain and stiffness occur. If a nerve is pushed on, pain, numbness, tingling or weakness (or a combination) can occur down one or both arms. In older patients, bone spurs develop as the neck wears out. The spurs are like training wheels that the body forms to stabilize things once the disc wears out. If these spurs push on a nerve, they cause irritation and pain.

Why do we get pain?
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Arm pain: a pain in your neck