T Nation

Pinched Nerve In Shoulder


Hey guys (and gals),
I've posted here now and again, mostly off-topic stuff, but here's something actually related to training.

First, quick background on me, I will probably expound on this at a later time with progress pics:

6'1", currently 215lbs, former couch/beer jockey who finally snapped out of it back in November and have been training consistently since then. I've found a lot of great info on this site, although I must admit, I haven't applied the "science" to it that I probably ought to. Nevertheless, I've made some good gains (definitely made a lot of strength gains and my physique has changed for the better too, and people have commented on it). All in all, I think I've done pretty well in 6 months.

Now, here's the killer..... I pinched a nerve in my left shoulder. I think it all started with some heavy military presses... then worsened by sleeping on it wrong. Then, the next day, with pain shooting from the base of my skull to my elbow, I had to go move some arcade games (hobby/side job of mine, I couldn't reschedule these moves). Then, that night, I slept on it wrong AGAIN. The next day I was in excrutiating pain... went to the doc, got some X-rays, etc... the doc gave me a scrip for Percocet which, frankly, didn't really help.

ANYWays... long story short (too late), the pain is finally in check, still sore but tolerable, but I'm still lacking some strength and coordination in my arm. It's KILLING me not to be able to go lift, and I'm afraid that once I do get back, I'm not going to be able to pick up where I left off. I don't want to risk re-injuring my arm, but at the same time, I don't want to cheat myself out of precious training time. I'm trying to make a real impression at my company beach party at the end of July.

All that said, now my questions:
Is there anything I can do to help speed up my recovery?

Anything I should avoid doing for a while, even after the pain is all gone?

Anythign I can do to prevent this sort of injury in the future? It really does seem to stem from the way I sleep on it... and short of duct taping my arms to my side, I don't see any way to change that habit.

Any and all feedback appreciated.

Thanks as always!


Oh my, do I know what you are going through. I had pinched a nerve in my back right underneith my shoulder blade from sleeping on it wrong and then sleeping in a truck with my neck in a bad position after heavy drinking. Proceeded to use alcohol as a pain killer for 3 days. When it was all over with I had damaged the nerve because I did not allow it to heal and just kept moving around and disreguarding the pain. Spent 8 months in rehab.

What helped me was contrast massage and chiropratic work 3 times a week. I know what you mean by the pain, my entire right side of my body would go into a charlie horse and start twitching. It was so painfull I really feel for you. It was worse than any broken bone or injury I have ever had in my life. It is amazing how a nerve can affect your whole body. Also I took 800 mg of ibprofin which helped with the inflamation. At that strength you have to go to doc. Not sure if you can just take multiple doses of shelf drugs.


for the future, when you get back in the gym (as soon as a doc says ok, or you just decide you are going to)- When you do your shoulder work, or even chest and back work, make sure to warm up your shoulders, do a set or two of very light (no more than 5 lbs)lateral, front, and rear raises, 10-20 reps, LIGHT WEIGHT. When I messed up my shoulder(s), doing shoulder presses it was becasue of my range of motion. Remember that every body is different, just cause the guy next to you is doing behind the neck presses with the bar coming all the way to the base of his neck does not mean you should! DOES NOT. I made that mistake, and after about a year of self rehab I got my shoulders as strong and now stronger than before. Now heres the tip, when doing presses DONT do behind the neck, do dumb bells or in front of neck barbell. behind the neck arn't out of the question in the future, but not for now. On the negative portion of the exercise, do not lower the weight any lower than elbows at a 90 degree, and your upper arm is parallel to the ground. any lower and the joint of the shoulder isn't happy. Remember, everyone is different, and just becasue someone else can move in one way does not mean you can. Give it a try, and see how it works, be careful and use lighter weight than you think you should, shoulders are important, as you know, and hurting them sucks big time! You'll be back to it in no time!