Most people don't understand how much we use our arms and legs throughout the day. In fact, our shoulder and hip joints are two of the most mobile and frequently used joints in our bodies. This combination of frequency and mobility has led to a wide range of possible injuries and sources of pain. Our team is here to help.
Maybe it is a weekend warrior who overused the joint in an athletic competition, an unfortunate participant in a car accident, a person lifting two much weight at work or home, or a grandmother who fell asleep holding their grandchild in one position all night. Typically, these situations cause almost an immediate pain or discomfort as a result of muscle, bone, or nervous system damage and irritation.
However, many people develop arm and leg pain gradually over time and are relatively unaware of what may have caused it. When the patient is perplexed by what may have caused the pain, vertebral subluxations, arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, and frozen shoulder become likely suspects. In addition to these sources of pain, switching or taking new medications such as antibiotics, birth control, and anxiety medications has been shown to contribute to development of arm and leg pain.
If this list of possible causes wasn’t confusing enough, it has also been shown that arm and leg pain is often caused by “referred pain”. This pattern of pain is often used to describe the sensation of pain down the left arm that people feel during the start of a heart attack. Another example of a referred pain pattern is the pain that an inflamed gall bladder causes under the right shoulder blade. Frequently, our team see patients who present with arm and leg pain that is being referred from nerve irritation that begins at the spine. If the spaces where the nerves leave the spine become narrowed due to the vertebrae being out of position, the nerve becomes irritated and often produces pain down its entire path. The pain patterns associated with sciatica are a good example of this mechanism.
Due to the complexity of the joints and the vast number of possible causes, it is important that you see someone who is trained in these areas to get an accurate diagnosis. Our team will use a detailed and complete approach to figure out what is exactly causing your pain, and as a result, the best possible treatment solution for it. Typically, our office will use a combination of a thorough history, physical examination, and advanced imaging to get to the root cause of your problems. Through their education and experience our team is also able to use the location of the pain, aggravating or alleviating factors, type of pain sensation, and other symptoms such as swelling, skin changes, and bruising as other tools to assist in the diagnosis.
So how can chiropractic help my arm and leg pain? As with any condition, you want to start with treating the most common and typical cause of the pain and symptoms first. Our team has found over many years that irritation of the vertebrae in the neck is responsible for the vast majority of arm and leg pain. As described above, when losing their ability to move properly, they often irritate the surrounding tissues including the nerves. Many people are surprised when they see that many of the nerves in our body travel from our spine to the ends of our fingertips and toes.
As a result, injuries to the vertebrae in the spine can create the sensation of pain anywhere along our arms and legs. Through this pattern of treatment, patients at our office have experienced high levels of success through chiropractic treatment.