Pain in right shoulder blade and neck; tingling arm and ring finger and pinkie.

by Stephanie
(Edinburgh)

C8 dermatome

C8 dermatome

Pain in right shoulder blade and neck; tingling arm and ring finger and pinkie are often the cause of "mouse arm".

For the last week I have had a deep pain under my right shoulder blade which extends up through my neck and down my right arm. I also have numbness and tingling all down my right arm, a stiff elbow and tingling in my ring finger and pinkie. As I do a lot of computer work the pain has been increasing throughout the week.

What could be the problem?

Hello Stephanie,
The ring finger and pinkie belong strongly to the C8 dermatome, so the most likely cause is in your lower neck. It could be a slipped disc, or an angry joint of Luschka from old trauma.

There is however a small question mark over the deep upper back pain; normally that would belong to the C5 dermatome that supply muscles between and under the shoulder blades.

The stiff elbow means that where the ulna nerve courses through a groove (the funny bone) behind the elbow could be the cause. That too would affect those fingers. It's not impossible that the pain could also travel up the nerve to your neck.

One other possibility is an area called the inter scalene triangle in the front of the neck where the nerve bundles and artery to the arm pass. Often the lowermost C8 trunk is affected; it's called a thoracic outlet syndrome, or TOS. In this instance, raising your arm above head as in hanging the washing would increase the symptoms.

If the problem concerns the nerve root in the spine, then raising your arm thus would relieve the tingling.

Make sure you get support under your right elbow at the computer. Don't carry heavy bags with your right arm.

This is potentially a serious problem, Stephanie. Get help soon if it doesn't go away in a few days. X-rays will probably be needed.

Doing the upper limb tension test before you see your chiropractor or doctor would yield important information; see below.

I hope this contributes; let me know how you get on.

Dr B



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