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Brachial Plexus Compression

Andrea Nederveen, RMT - Registered Massage Therapist


Do you ever get numbness and or tingling in your arms or hands at work? Do you ever wake up in the night only to notice that your arms have “fallen asleep”? Your rounded shoulder posture is most likely why you are feeling these things.


From the neck through to the top of the spine, there is a nerve bundle called the Brachial Plexus, and it supplies nerves to the arms. It sends signals from your spinal cord to your shoulder, arm and hand. A brachial plexus injury occurs when these nerves are stretched, compressed, or in the most serious cases, ripped apart or torn away from the spinal cord.


In massage therapy we see a lot of brachial plexus compression. Since the nerve travels under the shoulder and down the arm, this nerve group has to pass between some of the largest muscles in the chest and arms, like the pectoral muscle. This is a large, strong muscle that runs from the sternum and clavicle to the shoulder. If you do not have proper posture, such as rounded shoulders, this muscle group could be very tight and shortened causing compression to the brachial plexus and therefore causing numbness and tingling to the arm and hand.


Massage therapy can help. We are able to manipulate the soft tissue of the pectoral muscles and those around it, such as the biceps. Sometimes treatment can be painful and cause inflammation requiring ice afterwards.


As a client you can take your homecare with you and continue treatment at home. We require daily stretching of the pectoral and bicep muscles. You can obtain this stretch by using a doorway. Each stretch should be held for at least 30-45 seconds to help lengthen the muscle. When your muscles are lengthened, they are healthier and allow for proper blood and nerve circulation.


If you notice that you are getting some numbness and tingling down the arm, or that you are just in a bad position each day causing you to have poor posture, try these stretches to see if you can gain any relief.



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