Physical Therapy for Nerve Damage in Shoulder

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Shoulder pain can make anything you wish to accomplish seem impossible. You do not remember injuring your arm, so you are not sure where this pain can be coming from. Your shoulder pain may actually be radiating down from your neck. How can this be possible?

Our experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow know that shoulder pain can hinder your quality of life. We specialize in treating shoulder pain!


It is common for people to have shoulder pain that stems from their neck. Thankfully, it can be treated by means of physical therapy. Schedule an appointment with our rehabilitation experts at our Atlanta or Marietta, Georgia offices today!

What Causes a Pinched Nerve in My Shoulder?

The pain that you are experiencing in your shoulder may be caused by cervical radiculopathy, which is a pinched or compressed nerve in your neck.

Cervical radiculopathy occurs when a nerve root near the spinal cord in your neck is compressed. With time, a pinched nerve can cause chronic pain and even lead to permanent nerve damage.

Signs and Symptoms That Indicate a Pinched Nerve in My Shoulder

If you have cervical radiculopathy, you may experience the following:

  • Sharp pain or discomfort in your shoulder region (usually felt in just one of your shoulders)
  • Pain that radiates down from your neck into your arm
  • A tingling sensation in your hands and fingers that feels like “pins and needles”
  • A loss of sensation/numbness along the pinched nerves pathway into your arm and hand
  • Weakness in your upper arm (including your bicep or triceps muscle)

How Are Pinched Nerves in the Shoulder Treated?

Often, pinched nerves can be treated by non-surgical methods, including physical therapy. Below you will find some common treatments.

Manual Therapy

Your physical therapist may use hands-on care, such as manual cervical traction, to relieve pressure in your neck and its surrounding areas. This traction helps many feel immediate relief from numbness as well as any arm pain that they were feeling.

They may also gently massage your muscles, specifically the muscles of your cervical spine and around your shoulder blade. Your physical therapist can use this technique to improve mobility, alignment, and range of motion.

Therapeutic Exercises

Your physical therapist may use a range of therapeutic exercises, including various stretching and strengthening exercises, to restore your range of motion and joint mobility and strengthen your muscles.

Range of Motion Exercises

You will be taught gentle neck mobility exercises that can help relieve your symptoms. These exercises can also help you return to moving in a more normal and natural way.

Strengthening Exercises   

Your physical therapist will assist you in determining which muscles need to be strengthened. This will be determined by the spinal nerves that are causing you pain. Your treatment plan will be formulated to target those muscle groups.

At-Home Exercise Program

Your physical therapists will also teach you exercises you can do at home to improve your functionality. These various exercises will help strengthen muscles in your neck, upper extremities (including your shoulder and arm), and upper back.

After a physical exam and possible diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), your specialist will determine which form of therapy or combination of therapy will be best for you.

How Can Physical Therapy Specifically Help My Cervical Radiculopathy-Related Shoulder Pain?

Physical therapy can specifically help cervical radiculopathy-related shoulder pain because it can:

  • Improve the strength and flexibility of your shoulder
  • Improve your posture, which can protect your spine
  • Decrease pain and inflammation
  • Improve your functionality and reduce unnecessary stress on your neck
  • Restore your quality of life

Shoulder pain caused by nerve compression can be painful. However, there are some practical steps that can be taken to provide pain relief. Schedule an appointment with Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Atlanta and Marietta, GA to receive the relief you deserve!

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon