Shoulder Arm Syndrome

The shoulder-arm syndrome – a disease with many faces and many possible backgrounds is often referred to as neck-shoulder-arm syndrome. Other terms for this condition are: cervicobrachial syndrome, cervicobrachialgia, cervicobrachial syndrome and cervicobrachial syndrome.

Shoulder Arm Syndrome

What is Shoulder Arm Syndrome?

Shoulder -arm syndrome is also known in medicine as cervicobrachialgia or lower cervical syndrome. In addition to the expression shoulder-arm syndrome, the term neck-shoulder-arm syndrome is also often found. See bestitude for Meanings of Pericarditis.

The term shoulder-arm syndrome covers complaints of these corresponding parts of the body. Often there are neck problems that radiate and lead to pain in the arms and shoulders. There may also be tingling or numbness in the hands or restricted sideways head movements.

Muscle hardening in the muscle strands that run on both sides of the spine are often also present in shoulder-arm syndrome.

Since the symptoms of shoulder-arm syndrome can vary greatly from person to person, thorough examinations are required to diagnose it – also in order to be able to rule out any other diseases as the cause of the symptoms.


Just like the symptoms of shoulder-arm syndrome, the possible causes of shoulder-arm syndrome are varied. In many cases, the cause of the shoulder-arm syndrome lies in complaints in the cervical spine: Here, for example, individual vertebrae can become blocked, which then radiate pain.

The background of such complaints of the cervical spine can be jerky movements or drafts. Improper strain on the spine, such as frequent one-sided carrying of loads, can also increase the risk of developing shoulder-arm syndrome.

Other possible causal impairments of the vertebrae for the shoulder-arm syndrome are changes in the spine due to aging processes or, for example, herniated discs. Vertebral impairments due to inflammatory diseases (e.g. rheumatism), osteoporosis, tumors or external forces (e.g. accidents) can also be responsible for the shoulder-arm syndrome.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Shoulder-arm syndrome encompasses a wide range of complaints with different causes. Therefore, numerous symptoms can indicate this disease. Common signs of shoulder-arm syndrome are back pain, shoulder pain, upper arm pain and muscle tension. In some cases, the pain also occurs in the back of the head.

Complaints from shoulder-arm syndrome can be acute or chronic. They can be localized or radiate down the arm to the hand. There may be discomfort in the hands. The mobility of the head can be limited. This can result in incorrect posture. Shoulder-arm syndrome pain can come on slowly or suddenly.

Usually they occur unilaterally. In the case of a stronger nervous impairment as part of the disease, fingertips can go to sleep and show numbness. In addition, they can lose strength during grasping movements. If the spine is affected, the autonomic nervous system often reacts, such as the upper eyelid drooping and reflexes being restricted.

Symptoms can worsen over time. Sufferers wake up from sleep due to pain when they roll onto the affected shoulder area. Circling the shoulder and spreading the upper arm are only possible to a limited extent and with pain. A typical sign of shoulder-arm syndrome is a stabbing pain when you reach for your wallet in your back pocket. In everyday life, there are classic counter-reactions of poor posture, muscle tension and pain.


Shoulder-arm syndrome can cause severe pain and numbness in the arms and hands. Cervicobrachialgia should be treated promptly with physiotherapy if such symptoms occur. This is the only way to resolve the underlying muscle hardening. Relief of the pain can be attempted via a red light or an ibuprofen-containing pain ointment in order to avoid being unable to work. However, pain ointments are not suitable for long-term treatment.

Shoulder-arm syndrome can become a complication if treatment fails to recognize pinched nerves or vertebral blockages. Both can be very painful. Heat treatments, physiotherapy and medication to treat pain have to go hand in hand in order not to further complicate the situation. Among other things, shoulder-arm syndrome can develop as a result of whiplash. In this context, chronic shoulder pain can occur as a complication.

Degenerative changes or tumors in the area of ​​the shoulder joints can also be a cause of shoulder and arm pain. Herniated discs, bone changes caused by osteoporosis and tumors in the shoulder area can lead to significant complications if they are not recognized in time. If so, an operation is unavoidable.

To avoid complications, the causes of cervicobrachial syndrome should always be investigated. Work-related muscle tension can be just as much a trigger for causing shoulder-arm syndrome as other circumstances. As a result of constant work on the PC, in the worst case, a pain-related occupational disability can result from the shoulder-arm syndrome.

When should you go to the doctor?

Medical treatment is always necessary for shoulder-arm syndrome, as this disease cannot heal itself. The affected person is always dependent on treatment by a doctor to prevent further complications. A doctor should be consulted if the person concerned suffers from severe pain in the shoulders, arms or back. The pain is permanent and does not go away on its own. They can also spread to neighboring regions and cause problems there as well.

It is not uncommon for numbness to indicate shoulder-arm syndrome and should be examined by a doctor. A doctor should also be consulted if the muscles become tense or if the muscles appear very weak. The shoulder-arm syndrome can be diagnosed and treated by a general practitioner or an orthopaedist. Particular complications usually do not occur and the disease is completely cured.

Treatment & Therapy

Depending on the severity and course of the shoulder-arm syndrome, there are different treatment methods. Acute pain from shoulder-arm syndrome that has not yet occurred frequently can, for example, initially be combated with painkillers.

Depending on the cause diagnosed, painkillers can also be used, which have an additional anti-inflammatory effect. If there is severe pain due to muscle tension in connection with the shoulder-arm syndrome, active ingredients are sometimes used that relax the muscles again. However, there are some warnings about long-term use of painkillers, since the corresponding dependencies can develop. For example, instead of painkillers, long-acting local anesthetics (local narcotics) are used in chronic shoulder-arm syndrome – this can prevent pain nerves from transmitting pain signals, among other things.

Consistent physiotherapy is mentioned as a particularly important element in combating shoulder-arm syndrome: strengthened supporting muscles can help to compensate for impairments in the spine. Treatment with cold or warm air has also proven to relieve pain: while some patients find warm air more effective, other patients prefer cold air.

Other possible treatment methods for shoulder-arm syndrome include acupuncture or chirotherapy (manual treatment). And depending on the cause of the shoulder-arm syndrome, additional relaxation methods or psychological discussions are also used successfully.


An important aspect of preventing shoulder-arm syndrome is to regularly strengthen the back muscles that support the spine. It is also advisable to avoid one-sided strain on the spine (e.g. when carrying heavy shopping bags on just one shoulder). As far as possible, it is also important to avoid negative stress, which can increase muscle stiffness and tension.

The shoulder-arm syndrome – associated with pain, but which can be counteracted with pain-relieving measures after a targeted diagnosis, with targeted treatment steps and appropriate prevention.


Once shoulder-arm syndrome has developed, this area of ​​the body always remains a weak point. There is no permanent cure. It is therefore important for the patient to keep an eye on the shoulder-arm area during aftercare. On the one hand, he should ensure that he does not tense his muscles in this area for an unnecessarily long time.

For example, he can take breaks from working on the PC and stretch his shoulders. Corresponding stretching exercises have already been shown to the patient during physiotherapeutic treatment, but they are also taught in courses such as yoga or Pilates. Such gentle sports are well suited to strengthening the muscles in the shoulder-arm area and at the same time keeping them supple and flexible.

This is a prerequisite for preventing an acute course of the shoulder-arm syndrome from occurring again. If the area is overloaded, the patient can resort to the self-help options already mentioned. A treatment with the red light lamp or the application of a hot-water bottle will alleviate the first symptoms.

A hot pad of mixed healing earth can also relieve tension in the painful areas. If it is possible for the patient, he should always afford physiotherapeutic treatments and massages. In combination with sport and mindfulness, it can prevent the symptoms from recurring.

You can do that yourself

This term summarizes various diseases that lead to the head, neck, shoulder and arm no longer being able to move fully. In order to define exactly which underlying disease is present, an orthopedist must be consulted. He will determine whether the shoulder-arm syndrome is the result of a problem with the cervical spine or whether the patient tends to have bad posture, has “snapped up” or was sitting on a train. There may be other diseases underlying the shoulder-arm syndrome, such as tumors or rheumatism.

Depending on the findings, the doctor will determine the therapy. In addition, the patient can also ensure that the neck muscles are relaxed. On the one hand, gentle massages can be used here, but also gymnastic exercises that relieve tension. Patients can find various films on the Internet that show neck exercises that are easy to imitate. Jacobson ‘s progressive muscle relaxation also helps against stubborn muscle tension. In addition, warming pads can relax tense muscles. A hot-water bottle is just as effective here as an activated charcoal heat patch that is applied and gives off an even heat for hours. A cherry pit pillow heated in the microwave can also provide relief for acute symptoms.

Since shoulder-arm syndrome usually causes pain and numbness, patients tend to react with poor posture. Therefore, you should definitely keep your physiotherapy appointments, because an outsider can better recognize and correct these bad postures.