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Repetitive Strain Injury/pain above bicep when lifting arms


I have pain in both arms between the top of my biceps and bottom of my shoulders when I lift my arms. I have to use one arm to lift the other arm above my head. This has been going on for years but it comes on for a few days and goes away for a few weeks. It is very difficult to perform my daily routine such as showering, dressing, working, etc. I have an EMG tomorrow for possible carpal tunnel syndrome. Could the carpal tunnel be causing the pain in my arms?

Hi Amanda,

I don't believe that carpal tunnel syndrome has anything to do with the pain you are experiencing. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a swelling in the wrist (carpal tunnel) that is impinging on the median nerve.  The primary cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is diabetes, edema, pregnancy, or a sprain that has caused fluid retention in the wrist area.  You can read about carpal tunnel syndrome by going to  While you are there I suggest you go to the section titled "Anatomy Lessons" and look at each of the muscles that impinge on the median nerve from the origin all the way to the insertion. Each of those muscles can be the cause of tingling all the way down your arm and into your hand.

As for lifting your arms, I believe that the main problem is coming from one or more of the following muscles: latissimus dorsi, teres minor, teres major, serratus anterior.  Each of these muscles need to lengthen in order for you to lift your arm, so spasms in any or all of them will prevent you from raising your arm. The odds are the muscles have been repetitively strained and the muscle fibers have a knot in them.

You can read all about repetitive strain injuries by going to and reading the Home Page, and then also read the two sections titled "Muscles and Pain" and "What's Happening Exactly." You will have a much better idea of why the muscles are preventing you from moving.

Fortunately you can easily self-treat each of these muscles, you'll understand that as you read the website.  You can also go to a good trigger point massage therapist and have the muscles treated.  I like self-treatment because the odds are you're going to need to treat each muscle multiple times before it totally releases, so doing it yourself will save you a lot of time and money by not needing to go in for therapy over and over.

In any case, I think you can eliminate this problem quickly and easily.

Wishing you well,
  Julie Donnelly  

Repetitive Strain Injury

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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

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