Dull, consistent pain in the shoulder and neck region is typically attributed to a pinched nerve. But sometimes you may also experience a sharp, piercing pain following neck movement. No matter how it expresses its symptoms, a pinched nerve is not something to take lightly because it can cause chronic and extreme pain that only gets worse with time.
Individuals suffering from this sort of pain often allow the pain to go on, without seeking medical attention. This condition is easily diagnosable, through various tests and exercises, and with the help of a chiropractor. If you are unsure if a pinched nerve is causing your discomfort, try these four tests, and if the results are positive, seek treatment from a chiropractor before your condition worsens.
1. Arm Tension Test
The Arm Tension Test is designed to determine whether a pinched nerve is the source of your pain. To successfully administer this test, you will use your non-painful arm to understand your extension and a comfortable arc of motion.
- Keep the testing arm fully extended in front of the body, palm up.
- Drop the palm, so the fingers face downward, and the palm is facing away from the body.
- Gradually move the extended arm in a 90º angle. The palm should still be facing outward, and the arm is still extended but to the side of your body.
- Repeat the exercise with your painful arm. If during the wrist extension, you begin to feel intense discomfort in your arm or neck, the arm tension test results are positive.
2. Neck Compression Test
After testing positive for the Arm Tension Test, the Neck Compression Test can further diagnose the issue. Again, begin this test using the non-painful side to determine a baseline for your movement.
- Tilt the head to whichever side is being tested, if the non-painful side is tested first and the left side is non-painful, tilt the head to the left.
- Slowly move the head back, as if you were looking behind you, and hold the position for about a minute.
- In the controlled test, assessing the non-painful side’s response, you should be able to hold the position for 60 seconds. If you are unable to comfortably hold this position for 30 seconds on the painful side, if you experience surges of neck pain, arm pain or tingling sensations traveling from the neck down, then your test is positive.
3. Head Turn Test
- Let’s say the non-painful side is the left. Turn your head completely to the left, and rest there for a couple of seconds.
- Do the same for the right side; try to fully turn your head to the opposite side of the non-painful side.
- On the left side, or the non-painful side, you should experience no discomfort and a natural range of motion. On the right side, you may experience a very limited range of motion. If this is the case for you, you have tested positive for a pinched nerve.
4. Relief Test
The relief test determines whether the act of relieving tension from the nerve will reduce discomfort and or immobility. Begin by tilting the head in the opposite direction of the painful side and use the non-painful arm to hold the head in place for 60 seconds. If this procedure reduces your nerve pain, you have tested positive.
If you tested positive in all four exercises, it is highly likely you are suffering from a pinched nerve. Michigan Chiropractor Specialists can professionally diagnose and treat your pinched nerve. Treatment may include stretching and other exercises, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, or electrotherapy. In most cases, you can recover completely, or at least have a substantial reduction in pain so you can enjoy a full range of motion and your daily activities pain-free.