If your shoulder hurts and your thumb or other fingers are numb and tingling, is this more likely multiple sclerosis, ALS or a more benign condition?
“Shoulder pain with associated hand numbness is commonly associated with a condition called cervical radiculopathy,” says Chad Gorman, MD, a board-certified physician in private practice in New Port Richey, FL, specializing in treating chronic pain of the spine and extremities.
The term cervical radiculopathy translates to ailment in the neck region radiates pain outward.
Dr. Gorman continues, “Cervical radiculopathy is a condition where there is nerve impingement in the cervical spine.
“When a nerve at the level of the neck is pinched or irritated, patients will feel pain that extends down the nerve root following down the arm.
“The most common cause of nerve root impingement is from a disc bulge or herniation.
“If a person has a disc herniation pinching his sixth cervical nerve, he will have neck, shoulder and arm pain with associated numbness extending to his thumb. It can cause pain, numbness and weakness in severe cases.”
Sometimes the ailment skips past the shoulder and affects only the hand in the form of weakness and tingling or numbness.
This is why if you have a weak, numb or tingling thumb and other portions of the hand, but there’s been no compressing trauma directly to that area, a doctor will suspect an issue going on with the nerves in your neck – as well as possibly carpal tunnel syndrome.
“The best treatment for this is a cervical epidural steroid injection as well as physical therapy/chiropractor,” says Dr. Gorman.
Generally the epidural injection will last three to four months. Physical therapy needs to be done faithfully; no sessions skipped.
“If these are ineffective a surgical removal of the disc herniation is an option,” says Dr. Gorman.