ZocdocAnswersWhy does pressing on my neck make my arm and wrist hurt?

Question

Why does pressing on my neck make my arm and wrist hurt?

I had some mild aching in my neck and found that when I pressed on the spot that hurt, I got pain in my wrist and lower arm. Why would this happen? Is this a medical condition? The pain in my neck is like right where my shoulder and my neck meet.

Answer

Musculoskeletal problems can be difficult to diagnose and treat without proper physical exams. It sounds like you have some pain running down your arm, especially when your neck is pressed and this indicates that the nerves may be pinched. You have 5 nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord and weaving into different combinations before making their ways to the arms. As these roots come out of the spine, there are different areas that could get a little narrowed hence causing a higher chance of getting pinched. However, there are also times when you can get referral pain (i.e. location of pain is away from the source without any obvious connection). It sometimes happens when sensory nerves in one region cross the spinal cord close proximity to the sensory nerves from another region, and thus the input sort of "confuses" your brain a bit. That said, I think you should get a good work up for your neck pain. Depending on the mechanism (what initially caused your injury) and the physical exam, your doctor may try physical therapy. He or she may also want to order imaging to make sure that there is no ligament injury or vertebral disc problems. Neck pain can be extremely debilitating so I think you should have it evaluated by a primary care physician who may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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