A pinched nerve in your shoulder can have many uncomfortable side effects. Not only does it cause pain or discomfort in your neck and shoulders, but it can also cause pain that radiates all the way down to your hands.
At the same time, it can cause you to lose strength in your shoulders and arms, and it can even cause you to lose feeling in those areas.
In this article, we'll share eight stretches and exercises for a pinched nerve in your shoulder. These stretches will help to take the pressure off the nerves where your pain is stemming from. The exercises will help you build strength in your neck and shoulders.
What causes a pinched nerve in the shoulder?
A pinched shoulder nerve, clinically known as cervical radiculopathy, actually starts in the neck. It occurs when one of the nerves in your neck ” not your shoulder ” is compressed.
Sometimes it's a herniated disc that slips out of place and pinches a nerve in your neck. Other times degenerative disc disease allows one of your intervertebral discs to bulge out and pinch the nerve. In some cases, a traumatic injury may be the source of the problem.
Whatever the case, this can cause a pain that radiates out into the shoulder, often making it seem like you've pinched a nerve in your shoulder. Many times, the pain can radiate to other parts of your upper extremities as well.
Postural stretches for a pinched nerve in the shoulder
Here are some stretches that can help to relieve a pinched nerve in your shoulder. Please note that if any of these exercises makes your neck, shoulders or any other body part hurt worse, you should call a doctor or physical therapist immediately.
- Trap stretches ” Looking straight ahead of you, slowly move your neck downward to the left. Lower your right shoulder as much as you can so you feel your upper trapezius muscles stretching. Hold these stretches for 30 seconds each and repeat three or four times for each side of your body.
- Chin tucks ” Place your fingers on your chin and slowly push back until you have a double chin. Hold this position for three to five seconds. Repeat five times.
- Shoulder rolls ” Lift both shoulder blades up toward your neck. Push them backward toward each other as you slowly lower them. Repeat, but push your shoulders forward as you lower them. Repeat five times in each direction.
- Neck bends ” Slowly lower your chin toward your chest. Hold for 10 seconds, pushing your chin toward your chest so you can feel it stretching. Slowly lift your head. Repeat five to 10 times.
- Head turns ” Looking straight ahead, slowly turn your head to the right as far as you can. Hold for five to 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Exercises for building strength in your neck and shoulders
Stretches can be helpful for a pinched nerve in your shoulder, but exercises can be helpful as well. These exercises will help you strengthen your neck and shoulders so that your head and spine are better supported.
- External shoulder rotations ” Hold an exercise band with two hands. Starting with your hands by your side, lift them outward next to your body until they are in a T position. Repeat 10 times, pause, and repeat another 10 times.
- Standing row exercises ” Hold an exercise band with two hands in front of your chest. Keeping your elbows bent, pull the band outward and backward, pushing your shoulder blades together. Repeat 10 times, pause, and repeat another 10 times.
- Serratus pushes ” Lying on your back, lift a barbell (or object of your choice) and push it up toward the ceiling. Allow your shoulder blades to lift off the floor. Hold for three seconds before lowering. Repeat 10 times, pause, and repeat another 10 times.
Physical therapy for a pinched nerve in your shoulder
Instead of doing stretches for your pinched shoulder nerve at home, consider scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist. There are many benefits to physical therapy, especially for people with pinched nerve pain.
Here are a few of the treatment methods physical therapists use to treat pinched nerves:
- Manual therapy ” Manual therapy is a form of treatment in which the therapist manually manipulates your muscle tissue with their hands to relieve tension. This loosens your muscles, which can relieve nerve pain and other forms of chronic shoulder or neck pain.
- Therapeutic exercises ” Your physical therapist will guide you through exercises and stretches to relieve your pinched nerve pain. They will ensure that you're doing these exercises correctly so you don't injure yourself further.
- Movement coaching ” A physical therapist can assess your posture and identify any bad habits that may have led to your pinched nerve. They'll work with you to correct this problem, which can relieve pain while helping you avoid similar incidents in the future.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for pinched nerves
At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we're proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that's close to you and that can help you address the pinched nerve in your shoulder.
Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.
Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.