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I have neck and/or shoulder region pain in addition to elbow pain. How will I be treated?

It is common for the neck to refer pain into one’s arm. Patients commonly report a feeling of numbness and tingling that can extend to and even past the elbow joint. We call this cervical radiculopathy or referred pain. This is often thought of as “sciatica in the arm.” During our evaluation, we will look at your sensation, strength, and reflexes to assess if there is true neurological involvement or if your nerves are just “irritated.” If this does not reveal any positive findings, we will examine your neck and the nerves in your arms will be placed in various positions of tension. This will determine if there is a relationship between your neck/shoulder region pain and the symptoms you are experiencing at your elbow.

Physical Therapy treatments include:

  • Cervical mobilizations/manipulations
  • Cervical spine traction
  • Neck stretches
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Upper back mobilizations
  • Dry needling
  • Exercises to help mobilize the nerves
  • Strengthening exercises

You will be involved in the decision of which treatments you would like to receive. In the case of neck and arm pain, we look for a process called “centralization.” Centralization is the movement of arm symptoms closer to the spine.

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How do we track your progress?

We define patient-centered goals as what you hope to accomplish from physical therapy. While these are typically activity-specific goals, often patients report they just wish to experience less pain.

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