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Physical Rehabilitation Medicine/Possible Pinched nerve and pec atrophy


lthspine wrote at 2010-12-16 20:31:02
I have almost this exact problem but on the left side--four months ago I went to a chiropractor & felt a twinge in my upper back & pec, but I didn't have the excruciating pain that you have. I discovered I had zero strength in my left pectoral and left tricep & thought he pulled some muscles. Two months later I first noticed severe atrophy in the middle of my left pec & went to a doc who ordered a neck MRI & nerve tests (EMG).  Nerve tests showed moderate acute & chronic left C7 radiculopathy and significant denervation of the left pec & pronator, milder denervation of the triceps. Multiple docs said nerve damage takes ~6 weeks to show up on EMG, so it's not surprising your first nerve study didn't show anything.  So in my case (and yours) it seems nerve damage is quite clear, and it's at C7.  The neurosurgeon I just saw this morning told me what your acup, PT, and chiro said--the pec wouldn't be affected by C7 impingement--but the nerve doc said everyone's wired a little differently.  It's clear to me that there *is* damage at C7 for both of us--it shows up in MRI & EMG. It's only the textbooks that say the pec wouldn't be compromised; the real evidence says otherwise.

It may be too late for you, but hopefully someone else can gain some knowledge from my post.  I certainly have learned something from yours.  Best of luck to anyone reading this.  Next up for me is continuing to try cervical traction (hasn't helped so far) & possible cervical foraminotomy.  One surgeon recommended 3 level ACDF but that's too extreme for me at this point; another neurosurgeon recommended the foraminotomy so that's what I mulling over.  If I ever get this resolved, I'll come back & post an update.  My doctors are all in agreement surgery is the best shot at avoiding permanent nerve damage & that not waiting too long is important.  One year seems to be the outer limit.

About me:

- 45 year old male

- Former competitive weightlifter

- Chronic neck pain, hand weakness, I think due to multiple neck traumas over the past 18 years.

Joe Bianchi wrote at 2012-04-10 13:15:20
I have the Same Exact Thing !


& after 28 years of Lifting & Competing in the bench press - My right pec has Completely Athophied (I was Stronger @ 12 years old)

My Doctors also have No Clue (I had my EMG last week & was told the same thing - We Don't Know.  

Co wrote at 2013-08-01 23:41:33
Kevin, I am a female and am having the very same issues. I have had several injuries and falls concerning my neck. One thing that I found out this week is that the pec nerve is being pressed on by 4 tears in my rotator cugg and also the long head tendon to my bicep is torn off and the short head tendon to the bicep is torn and thinning. I have been in horrendous pain. A chiro got it off my pec nerve this week, but I can tell it's not all the way off. I will start physical therapy next week and see an Orthopedic Dr. who deals with shoulders on Aug. 27th. It's dibiltating!

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Bryan Ruchin, PT, DPT, MSPT


I am a physical therapist that treats all types of musculoskeletal disorders including orthopedic, vestibular, neurologic, and geriatric issues. I am also a specialist and the only therapist in Georgia that treats coccygeal pain and related pelvic and back pain. I am affliated with all types of sports ranging from highschool to professional.


I have been practicing since 2005 and am actively involved in research in all my fields. I am listed as a specialist for treating coccygeal disorders. I am a active member of the American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia.


I graduated from Georgia State with a B.S. in Exercise Physiology,from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Masters in Physical Therapy, and from Sage College with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

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