The shoulder is a complex joint that has a variety of nerves and blood vessels that run through it. Because of the flexibility of the joint, it is possible for some of these structures to become compressed or "pinched." When nerves become pinched, they no longer are able to provide innervation to the parts of the body that they serviced. As a result, parts of the body will become numb and certain muscles will no longer work.
The shoulder has nerves that come from many different sections of the spinal cord. Nerves are generally named based on where they emerge from the spine. Because there are eight different vertebrae in the neck (the cervical vertebrae), there are eight cervical nerves (often dubbed C1-8). C5, 6, 7, and 8 all connect to parts of the shoulder and can become pinched.
C5 Pinched Nerve
One of the nerves that can become pinched in the shoulder is the C5 nerve. Pinching of this nerve can cause pain in the shoulder, numbness in the shoulder and paralysis of the deltoid muscle. Because the deltoid muscle is responsible for lifting the arm straight up from the side, it may be difficult or impossible to move the arm in this way.
C6 Pinched Nerve
The primary symptom of the C6 nerve being pinched in the shoulder is pain and tingling that go down the arm and end in the thumb. This is because the C6 nerve supplies sensation to part of the arm and the thumb. This nerve also supplies the biceps and some of the wrist, so a pinched C6 nerve can make it hard to flex the arm and move the wrist.
C7 Pinched Nerve
The C7 nerve doesn't supply any muscles, but it does supply certain parts of the arm, especially the forearm and the index and middle finger. As a result, a C7 nerve that has been pinched by the shoulder can cause numbness to those portions of the arm and hand.
C8 Pinched Nerve
The C8 nerve is the last nerve to come out of the neck, and it provides sensation to the lateral portion of the forearm and the ring and pinky finger. As a result, if the C8 nerve gets pinched, these areas will either tingle or feel pinched, depending on the severity of the injury.
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