Olivia suffers from referred pain in her arms and hands

May 31, 2016

I am hoping you can offer some words of wisdom as I feel like an old woman!

I have had persistent tightness in my traps and neck that refers pain into my arm and hands on both sides. I’ve been persistently doing shoulder retractions and stretching my pecs in an attempt to pulled my winged shoulders back but the discomfort is still there. I seem to get knots / nerve irritation in my mid back between my spine and shoulder blade that refers into my arm and neck (although I suppose it could be the other way round).

The thing is, the discomfort swaps from right to left on an almost daily basis. I’ve had acupuncture and I roll on a massage ball which simply causes the discomfort to swap sides. I’ve had shoulder impingement syndrome but have mostly fixed this with exercises. I’ve read your advice on here and am pretty sure I have a tight thoracic spine so have been rolling it and streching it for a few days now but I’ve not seen any relief so far.

Could my neck be the source of the problem? I can’t seem to fix this. I’ve also developed sacrioliac joint pain and hip discomfort and I’m wondering if this also links to a tight thoracic spine.

What is causes all this and what do I need to work on to fix it? How long will it take?

Thank you! The pain and disconfort makes me feel like an old woman.

May 31, 2016

Hi Olivia

Poor you – not great feeling that old, but I think you can have age reversal.


You’ve had symptoms for it sounds like quite a while, you can’t expect to have over an night, immediate reduction in them. Lovely idea, but impossible.

I think your absolutely right with your approach. You’ve got a mass of differing symptoms. I’d be surprised if you’ve got a mass of differing causes of those symptoms.

Having a stiff thoracic spine, causing you to over compensated with your neck – giving referred symptoms seems absolutely on the money.

Think of neck issue like a “bruise”. The more you poke and irritate the bruise the longer your symptoms will persist. You poke and irritate the bruise because you’ve got a stiff thoracic spine and don’t have the ability to “move” any better.

All bruises get better as long as you allow the tissue to heal and you don’t keep poking it.

Even with a really acute bruise – after the bruising event,your bruise will be pretty sore for upto 10 days. Now add in some chronicity for you and even if you’ve got the ability to move better and don’t irritate the “bruise”, your tissue will be so sensitive  it’s going to carry on being painful for a good few weeks. In clinic I’d expect to see very little change in your symptoms for at least the next 3-4 weeks – and that’s with decent manual therapy making your thoracic spine move better and rehab giving you the ability to carry on moving better.

All of your symptoms are linked. They are all very treatable but it will take time as you really need to get better rather than just feel better.

So time is the answer to getting fixed. It won’t happen over night. It’s a bit like saying you’d like to win Wimbledon this year – I’d ask you how much practice are you going to put in.

Get someone to push your thoracic spine around – the rolled towel is the best there is but it is no substitute for having an external force giving you the ability to move better.

Your on the right track. Don’t symptom chase, cause change.

Guru Responded

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