A pinched nerve is essentially any nerve within the body that is suffering from a compression. Most cases of pinched nerves usually involve the spinal cord, where a herniated or slipped disc is placing pressure on one of your nerves. However, it is also possible to suffer from a pinched nerve within your shoulder blade, which can cause pain within the shoulder and arm.
Besides the pain associated with a pinched nerve in the shoulder, it's also quite common to suffer from other symptoms of the condition, including numbness as well as a tingling or prickling sensation. In more severe cases of a pinched nerve, you may notice spasms or a slight weakness in the affected arm.
While we already know that a pinched nerve is caused by compression, there is usually a reason for this compression. Repetitive stress within the rotator cuff is one of the more common reasons why bone, cartilage or muscle is pressing against one or more nerves in your shoulder blade. But you may also suffer a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade from direct trauma, awkward movements or even arthritis.
As with almost any condition that can affect the body, there are certain contributing factors that often play a role in the development of a pinched nerve. For some people, they're simply more vulnerable to these types of injuries. For others, it could be a case of conditioning (poor fitness), posture, hobbies and even certain jobs, especially those that require a great deal of overhead work.
Of all the things you can do for a pinched nerve, self-care is typically the first line of defence. Most doctors will tell you to rest your shoulder, avoiding those activities that could exacerbate the problem. You may also need to ice the area (15 minutes at a time) as well as take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Both of these should lessen inflammation and reduce the associated pain.
In more severe cases of pinched nerves (or those that don't respond to self-care), a more aggressive form of treatment may be necessary, including physiotherapy, corticosteroid drugs and even surgical procedures. With physiotherapy, a professional therapist can work with you to come up with exercises to better support the shoulder and arm. With an operation, pressure is manually removed from the affected nerve in the shoulder blade.