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July 3, 2004

Upper Extremity Dysfunction

I've mentioned several conditions involving arms on my site before, such as frozen shoulder and tennis elbow. Whitney Lowe states that although thoracic outlet syndrome is often mistaken for carpal tunnel syndrome, the former affects the ulnar nerve while the latter affects the median nerve.

I intend to compile upper extremity dysfunctions information into a newsletter that I can give to my clients, complete with self-care and exercises to help offset the symptoms of carpal tunnel-like symptoms.

When someone comes to me with problems that send pain, tingling, numbness or weakness down the arm, I check several muscles in the neck, chest, shoulder girdle, and arm to see if any sensation changes occur in the arm. Obviously, if there is serious nerve impingement, I refer them to their doctor.

Often I find that tight muscles press on nerves. If I can loosen and lengthen those muscles, then I can get the client relief from their symptoms. However, getting relief from symptoms is only part of the solution. Finding where the problem originates and addressing that is the other part of the equation.

One scenario could be referred tension from another part of the body. In that case I may use visceral manipulation or craniosacral therapy to ease the primary tension. Or the problem could be one of usage or muscle weakness. In that case, I talk to the client about how they use themselves, for example how they use their body in front of a computer. I then show them a more integrated or holistic way to use themselves so that effort is distributed throughout the body. For weak muscles I assign exercises or stretches to strengthen or loosens those muscles which may be distorting posture and creating pain.

Posted by linda at July 3, 2004 8:55 AM

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