Repetitive Strain Injury/shoulder--arm--wrist pain


One night I slept funny and had neck pain. Since then, that pain went away, but I was left for four days with a strong pain in the back of my shoulder, down my arm, and my wrist and outer fingers. I don't have any pain at night when I sleep, but when I get out of bed in the morning...oh, my, it's killing. Then during the day I have a dull ache, but the pain returns when driving (no matter which position) or resting my arm while sitting in a chair, or just walking with my arm down. I can lift things without any pain, and rotate my arm around freely. Although sometimes I forget about it during the day, it's still there, and I feel it mostly as I said when I get up in the morning. Motrin helps 75%. Any suggestions?

Hi Ross,

Hope you’re doing okay in NJ and that the storm hasn’t caused you any damage.  

When you slept wrong on your neck, the odds are you strained (actually contracted) several muscles in your neck. Your scalenes are in the front of your neck and will put pressure on a bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus eventually splits into the nerves to your entire arm, hand, and parts of your upper back/chest/shoulder.

It also sounds like you had your arm raised while you were sleeping, causing your pectoralis minor muscle to shorten, putting pressure on the median, ulnar, and radial nerves which pass underneath the tendon of the pecs minor at the insertion point on the coracoid process.  The both of these areas would cause all of the symptoms you are describing, although the pecs minor is most likely more involved than the scalenes, so I suggest you start there.

If you go to you can read all about repetitive strain injuries. I also suggest you read the sections titled “Muscles and Pain” and “What’s happening Exactly.”  It will explain a lot, making all of this more understandable.

You can either self-treat your pecs minor by pressing into it and holding it for 30-60 seconds, or you can go to a massage therapist and have it done for you.  There are other things you can do to treat the pecs minor but it’s too much to go into in this message. You’ll get more info about self-treating when you are reading the other website.
You will also benefit by treating the muscles of your neck so they release the strain on your cervical vertebrae.  That’s not hard either, just focused on specific tender points. Again, just hold the points for 30 seconds and then move to the next one.  The other website will have more information about that as well.

The odds are good that you’ll be able to eliminate this problem quickly as you release the tight muscles.  

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly

Repetitive Strain Injury

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

©2016 All rights reserved.