Headaches and hand/arm numbness and pain caused by tight muscles in the neck

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Suffering from headaches or numbness down your arm? All of the X-rays, MRIs and Nerve Conduction Tests come back as normal and no one has answers for you? Lots of patients ask me about headaches and arm numbness, and how Active Release Technique and soft tissue treatments work to fix the problem.

The answer lies in the human anatomy. Cervical nerves exit in between the neck bones (called Vertebrae) and travel up to the head and down to through the shoulder all the way to the fingers to control and innervate the upper extremity. Along the way these nerves can get pinched by tight muscles, adhesions, or scar tissue from old injuries. This pinched nerve can cause pain, loss of feeling, muscle weakness, burning, and/or hypersensitivity. You can see from some of these anatomy pictures that nerves (yellow) travel around, over, and sometimes directly through muscles (red).

Muscle are red attaching to bones. All of the yellow strands are nerves. Good view of how the nerves can travel up to the back of the head causing pressure and tightness (Hello headache my old friend).
The yellow-colored nerves can be impinged by the red-colored muscles anywhere along their path to innervating our hand movements and arm strength

When these muscles are tight, you can visualize the nerve getting squeezed causing abnormal nerve function. My job is to identify which muscles are tight, located the impingement area, and then treat the muscle using Active Release Technique to ‘free’ the nerve from compression to return it to proper function. Finding the root cause is the only way to fix it for good. Sometimes it takes just one or two movements with proper technique to rid the patient of the impingement. Then with specific exercises, the patient can manage the issue themselves.

So if you or someone you know suffers with headaches or random numbness in the arm and hand, give me a call (973) 477-3470 to discuss if ART is right for you.