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Why Your Neck Could Be Causing Your Hand Pain

By Debra Rodzinak

We have all had a pain in our hand at some point in our lives, whether it is from writing with a pencil too much in elementary school, resting the arm in a position that causes the hand or arm to fall asleep, or pain from overuse.  If hand pain continues, then an underlying medical condition may be present.


Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most widely known reason for hand pain, along with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic disease. However, many people don’t realize that the pain in their hand can stem from a problem in their neck. 

The spine is full of nerves that control the body, from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. When one of these nerve roots inside the cervical spine becomes irritated or compressed, symptoms can appear in the arm, hand, or fingers. The pain that travels down the radicular nerve is called a cervical radiculopathy.

Cervical Spine

Beginning with the top of the spine, each vertebra in the upper region is numbered beginning with C1 down to C7. From these points, eight nerve roots exit the spine and spread out to feed the nerve pathways. The shoulders, arms, and hand nerves are fed from these vertebrae.   

Each nerve root has its own responsibilities for motor and sensory functions to parts of the body, so cervical radiculopathy symptoms can be felt in parts of the body depending on which nerve root is affected. For example, the nerve that exits the C6 cervical vertebrae controls pain sensors for the thumb and hand and wrist on the thumb side. Therefore, if a nerve all the way back in the spine at C6 is irritated or compressed, then pain can be felt down at the thumb.


The symptoms of pain from the cervical vertebrae can vary from person to person. Some people report pain that is mild and achy where others report a sharp and shock-like pain. Numbness or a tingling feeling can also be reported.    

Sometimes these irritated nerves can be treated at home with heat or ice and over-the-counter pain relievers.  However, if the pain intensifies or doesn’t improve over time, a doctor should be contacted, especially if a nerve is compressed. Time is of the essence in dealing with nerve compression. If a person waits too long, the damage may become permanent. 

If you have hand pain and suspect that your back is to blame, contact The Joint for a gentle adjustment to your spine. Since no insurance is necessary and no appointment times are needed, a visit to The Joint is hassle-free. Open late and on the weekends, The Joint is in favor of the client being in control. Working together with the patient, the doctors will discuss a plan of action that is approved by the patient.  When healing nerve pain in the hand without drugs, a chiropractic treatment is a wise, natural solution. 

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