What’s your injury?
Here are some common problems of the upper limb – do any of these sound like your pain?
Where? Front/Side of the shoulder.
Difficulties: Movement above shoulder height, sudden movements, sleeping on side.
Possible diagnosis: Rotator Cuff Tendonopathy.
Cause: Repetitive actions above shoulder level, falling on an outstretched arm, wear and tear. Tendon is inflamed or torn, can develop into frozen shoulder.
Treatment: Friction massage, ultrasound, acupuncture, stretch and strengthening.
Shoulder Pain (with numbness)
Where? Shoulder and arm, with numbness and/or pins and needles.
Difficulties: Sustained postures irritate, movement relieves.
Possible diagnosis: Trapped nerve.
Cause: Bulging disc in the neck places pressure on a spinal nerve that serves the arm. Can result from trauma, often the effect of repetitive movements or awkward positions of the neck with a delayed onset.
Treatment: Mechanical traction (internal link), Nerve stretches, restoration of joint movement and reduction of muscle tension.
Where? Outer part of elbow/forearm.
Possible diagnosis: Tennis elbow.
Cause: Repeated and/or sustained gripping. Causes deep muscle tension, wear and tear of tendon at attachment site to elbow.
Treatment: Friction massage, massage, acupuncture, activity modification.
Thumb & Wrist
Where? Base of the thumb near the wrist.
Difficulties: General use, gripping, using a mouse, using tools.
Possible diagnosis: De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
Cause: Often a repetitive action that occurs during work. The tendons lye in a sheath containing synovial fluid. The fluid becomes inflamed and thickened causing movement to be painful.
Treatment: Stretch, massage, acupuncture, steroid injection.
Wrist & Hand
Where? Hand pain or nerve symptoms (numbness, pins and needles), half of the hand (thumb side).
Difficulties: Repeated/sustained gripping as in use of tools and machinery, or sustained position e.g. using a keyboard.
Possible diagnosis: Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Cause: Swelling occurs at the lower forearm/wrist causing compression of nerve and blood vessels.
Treatment: Activity modification, joint mobilization, stretch, surgery.