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Signs & Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in a Shoulder Blade

author image Carolyn Russell-DeLucas
Based in Massachusetts, Carolyn Russell-DeLucas has been writing since 2007. She specializes in topics related to health, beauty and nutrition. Russell-DeLucas graduated from Brevard Community College with an Associate of Arts.
Signs & Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in a Shoulder Blade
A pinched nerve in a shoulder blade may exhibit various signs and symptoms. Photo Credit My Shoulder image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

A nerve can be irritated or pinched from the surrounding muscle or bone from varying conditions, such as incorrect posture, overuse, aging, obesity, heredity, trauma or injury. The C5 nerve, located in the neck, is the nerve commonly associated with the signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve in the shoulder area, according to the SpinalColumns.com website. The symptoms of a pinched nerve can be temporary or permanent. If the symptoms persist, there may be an underlying condition and you should seek advice from a health care professional.


If you feel a burning sensation in the shoulder area, or shooting pains going down your arm, a pinched nerve may be the cause. You may also experience pain from muscle spasms caused from the nerve compression. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, neck pain and headaches, or occipital headaches may accompany the shoulder pain with a pinched nerve.

Pain is the way your brain associates something is wrong with your body. When you feel shoulder pain, it may be a sign that a nerve is inflamed or compressed and moving around may readjust your body alignment, thus relieving the pain. If the nerve compression lasts for a longer period, the chronic pain may not go away because of permanent nerve damage.


Experiencing weakness in the muscles in the shoulder area or arm are signs of a pinched nerve. In some cases, muscle weakness will lead to a complete loss of muscle function, according to UMMC. In situations where you experience weakness, you might not be able to lift your arm above your head or extend your arm to reach for an item. In addition, if the weakness extends to the lower extremity of the arm, you may drop items or have complications picking up items with your hand. If you are experiencing muscle weakness that prohibits you from the use of your limbs, a trip to a health-care professional is advisable.

Numbness and Tingling

Numbness and tingling are symptoms you may experience if you have a pinched nerve in your shoulder. A feeling of your shoulder or arm “falling asleep” or a “pins and needles” sensation are common signs of a pinched nerve, according to the MayoClinic.com. You many feel these symptoms in waves, or the numbing and tingling may be constant depending on how damaged the nerve is. Numbness and tingling that does not subside after resting may be an underlying condition and you should seek medical treatment.

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