Is It A Pulled Muscle Or A Pinched Nerve?

Drivers who come into Chirostop for their DOT physical, often ask me about upper back pain they’re experiencing, and I get this question all the time:

“Doc – I have this pain that starts at the base of my skull, goes to the top of my shoulder and moves into the middle of my back – between my shoulder blades. Is it a pinched nerve or a pulled muscle?”

The answer is “Neither!”

Most of the driving community suffers with a chronic over-utilization syndrome that I call “Truckers Shoulder”. It comes from the constant small repetitive utilization of the shoulder while keeping the truck in a straight line. Most drivers don’t realize that they pull about 9000 pounds a day through the shoulders while they drive. And the only time they ever pay attention to it, is when it’s been hurting for a while.

They ask their driver friends “What is it?” — and the normal answer is a ‘pinched nerve’ or a ‘pulled muscle’. But the reality is “It’s a completely exhausted muscle that’s full of lactic acid and adhesions in the soft tissue that cause the muscle to tighten up and get weaker all at the same time”.

So what can you do about it?

  • Change your active driving hand every 20-30 minutes for a short period of time.
  • Be aware of the discomfort before it becomes painful and give the tired shoulder a rest for a few minutes.
  • A hot shower will help until you can get your back and shoulder worked on.
  • Find a good doctor who understands the condition and have him / her work on the problem.

These a just a few things that will help you get through this until you can get it corrected.

Hope this helps answer the question. Travel safely

Trucker Doc

P.S. One of the treatments I use to help patients with ‘soft tissue’ injury that shows up as a pulled muscle or pinched nerve is called Active Release Technique. (read more here about how it works)

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