reasons for Shoulder pain and numbness in hand

Causes Of Shoulder Pain and Numbness in Hand

Suffering from Shoulder Pain or Numbness or Both?

There could be a few reasons for it depending on your daily activity and exercise routine.

Nerve Entrapment:

Pinched nerve/ cervical radiculopathy.
When spinal structures irritate the nerve roots in neck it causes pain other symptoms like tingling sensation. It also results in shoulder pain. The pain may travel along the path of nerve which is the arm and hand. Sometimes cubital tunnel syndrome( ulnarnerve injury) or carpal tunnel syndrome( median nerve Injury) maybe be mistake for cervical radiculopathy due to close resemblance of the presenting symptoms.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    Median nerve is the main nerve of the hand. Symptoms that occur when this nerve is affected are numbness in hand and fingers. Causes inclused repetitive movement from computer work which cause stress at wrist. Treatment is rest, anti inflammatory drugs, exercises for hand and wrist, splint for wrist. Continuing same activity may worsen the condtion.

  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

    Ulnar nerve is damaged in sports like cycling, basketball, golf, leaning on elbow is also a cause.
    Treatment is almost the same as carpal tunnel syndrome pain killers, rest. Avoiding leaning on elbow for long hours is advisable.

Impingement Syndrome:

This occurs when shoulder pinches tendon and bones. Pain is usually noticed when you lift the arm over the head. Causes and risk factors: Activities requiring repeated lifting of arm over your head is usually a cause.(swimming/ tennis). Ageing and poor posture.


  1. Resting shoulder
  2. Stretching and exercising under guidance
  3. Pain medications

Brachial Plexus Injury:

Brachial plexus are nerves which send signals from spine, shoulder, arm and hand.

Causes: Brachial plexus injury is commonly seen in contact sports such as football.

Motorvehicle Accidents
Injury to shoulder or neck leads to nerve damage. Minor injury is common in contact sports which are known as stingers often seen in football injuries. It can produce common symptoms of electric shock down the arm. Or numbness and weakness in the arm. These symptoms last for some time or may continue for sometime in some people. A more serious injury is seen in accidents where symptoms are severe pain and lack of movement.

Rotator Cuff Tear:

Rotator cuff is a group of muscles which help keep the shoulder in place and allow the arm to rotate. Over use of muscles or trauma can injure these muscles.

Causes: repetitive overhead motions( basketball, Baseball)
It can present with symptoms like aching in shoulder which is worse at night when you try to sleep on the affected side.

Treatment: Many can recover with basic physical therapy concentrated on flexibility and strengthening of the muscles.

Muscle Strain:

Strain is commonly heard term in athletes. Acute strain occurs due to tear in muscle.

  • Not warming up before exercise
  • Over exertion and fatigue
  • Poor technique of exercise

Temperature also plays a role. As muscles are stiffer in cold temperature. A good warm up routine needs to be followed in such circumstances to prevent muscle strain.

Treatment: RICE Therapy

Rest: Avoid using your muscle for a few days, especially if movement causes an increase in pain. But too much rest can cause muscles to become weak. This can prolong the healing process. After two days, slowly begin using the affected muscle group, taking care not to overdo it.

Ice: Apply ice immediately after injuring your muscle. This will minimize swelling. Use an ice pack or wrap ice in a towel. Keep the ice on your muscle for about 20 minutes.

Compression: To reduce swelling, wrap the affected area with an elastic bandage until swelling comes down. Be careful not to wrap the area too tightly. Doing so can reduce your blood circulation.

Elevation: Whenever possible, keep the injured muscle raised above the level of your heart.
The simplest of the cause for complains of tingling sensation in fingers is vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Vitamin B-12 is an important B vitamin, also known as cobalamin , it helps in synthesis and regulation of DNA. Almost all cells of the body depend on B-12 for energy production. Red cell production is dependant on B-12, which is why anaemia is common finding in case of B-12 deficiency. Fatigue, loss of appetite are other common symptoms.
Source of cobalamin is beef, poultry, eggs, ham.
At risk people include vegans as their diet does not include any animal products.

If you’re suffering from diabetes for a long time now it is a possibility you may be showing symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
People suffering from diabetes over a period of time develop neuropathy. This is due to nerve damage which occurs in the course of disease which is likely due to factors like high blood sugar levels, smoking or alcohol, metformin taken for diabetes reduces uptake of vitamin B-12. First symptom is often numbness, tingling. Mild cases go unnoticed because nerve damage occurs over years.

Best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy is to keep sugar level in control. And a regular health check up by your doctor will help in diagnosing early neuropathy.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad