False Carpal Tunnel from Tight Pectoralis Minor

This is a self-help technique video.

If you saw the other videos, you know that numbness in the hands and fingers can come from any of several along the nerve pathways. 

It is not unusual for more than one location to cause the problem.  Doctors frequently only look at the wrist as being a problem. 

Unfortunately people have had carpal tunnel surgery, when the carpal tunnel wasn’t even the problem at all. 

In previous videos we looked at the forearm muscles and how they can cause problems when tight. — And showed a very effective self-treatment.

In spite of it’s name the pectoralis minor muscle is very significant.

However, the pectoralis minor muscle is often overlooked.

But it is often very tight. When tight, it causes the shoulders to round forward. This causes the muscles between the shoulder blades to continually try to counteract that. And that causes pain between the shoulder blades.

As the video tells, when the Pectoralis muscle is tight, it can pinch on the nerves going into the fingers. It can pinch any or all of the major nerves that go into the hand, and can even cause numbness up the arm.

If you experience numbness in any part of the hand when your hands are up, but not down, it is very likely the Pec. minor. Although if very, tight it can create numbness all or most of the time.

If you get numbness, even when you arms are partially raised – as in driving a car, riding a bicycle, motorcycle, operating lawn equipment, etc., the Pectoralis Minor muscle could be the blame. Although you want to look at the forearm muscles first.

This video shows you how to work on this muscle yourself.

Part 2 will show you some stretches for the Pectoralis Minor. But this is sufficent to get you started.


False Carpal Tunnel from Tight Pectoralis Minor — 20 Comments

  1. Thank you for this video, and the clear way you talked about the tightness, why we get it and what we can do about it. I agree with some of the people above when you get these symptoms, it is frightening. Thanks for reducing that. And for writing about how to work on your own scalenes. Priceless! I’ll be looking up the videos of the stretches tomorrow.

  2. My pec minor is cutting off arm circulation. This is decreasing my bicep brachii size and is halting progress. Do you have any tips for finding the pec minor for someone with a very muscular but lean pec major (amateur bodybuilder). Thanks

  3. Tiff Welch on said:

    God bless you for sharing this information!!! I have severe health anxiety, and am quite phobic about any pain that feels like it could be heart related. Lucky me- I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Costochondritis, and general muscle pain & tension: the result being that, even though I’m only 32, I spend a great deal of time in pain and fretting about the state of my health.

    I stumbled across your website & videos as I sit here in bed, Googling my painful symptoms at 3:30 am 🙁 I was trying to find good information on the pectoralis muscles that would be understandable- even to a layperson like myself. While I fear heart issues despite being cleared on anything of that nature, the pain is still terrifying. Since my dr has told me that any reproducable pain is typically muscular, I was seeking a diagram that would hel me to convince myself that “yes, this muscle is here, and that’s what is causing such tenderness & pain when I press upon it”. I was thrilled to find not only your explanation of the problems the tight pectoralis minor can cause, but solid, simple massage techniques that I can do MYSELF, ANYTIME, to help myself feel better! I’m currently uninsured, so massage & physical therapy are simply not financially feasible for me in the foreseeable future…

    As an added bonus, I also found what is likely causing the tingling/”pins & needles” feeling in my pinky and ring fingers- my wonderfully overwrought little pec minors again. Your descriptions were (again) right on point… I seem to be a textbook example of a patient with pectoralis minor issues. The numbness, the tingling, the pain… Everything you described was spot-on!

    I apologize for the lengthy post, but I truly can’t express to you how much I appreciate you sharing your professional knowledge in such a way… Now, though I spend hours upon hours hunched over a computer at work (in what can only be described as an anti-ergonomic hell), I can actually do something to counteract all the tightness my work & poor posture are causing! Thank you, thank you, thank you for empowering me to reduce (and, dare I hope, someday end) my chronic chest tension & pain!!

  4. Patrick on said:

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! I had instant relief thanks to your video, i cant say thank you enough!!

  5. PolyisTCOandbanned on said:

    BTW, I think you are right about self help. I think even self diagnosis is needed. Wish I could just leave it up to the doctors, but I just think things are complicated and they don’t really consider all the anatomy. this forces tha patient to go learn it all…

  6. PolyisTCOandbanned on said:

    Very cool to get your feedback. Will look at that book. I really need a basic anatomy book, as I get confused with muscles, bones and motions of the shoulder.

  7. PolyisTCOandbanned:
    Often when you mess up your shoulder joint, there are many muscles involved. You are probably right in that your muscles are overworked trying to stabilize the GH joint. Stretches would likely make your problems worse.

    A good book is The Frozen Shoulder Workbook: Trigger Point Therapy for Overcoming Pain & Regaining Range of Motion I know you don’t have a frozen shoulder. But a small investment in this book if you use it will give your shoulder a lot of relief.

    It is about relieving trigger points. Trigger points are places where the muscle fibers are stuck and can’t function as muscle fibers should. Making the muscles weaker and shorter. Particularly in cases of trauma (including surgery) these trigger points can last for years or decades.

    What I like about this book is that for each muscle (and each are talked about in detail) there are three therapy methods given (one for a practitioner such as a massage therapist, one for a friend to work on you, thirdly ways you can work on yourself.

    I am really a believer in self-help whenever possible.

    The scalene muscles should always be thought about, since if they are tight they can restrict nerve and/or blood supply to the shoulder muscles. Contrary to what my video shows, you can massage the scalene muscles. But I’m not broadcasting that on youtube.

    If the deep armpit muscle – if it is in the back would (most likely) be the subscapularis.

    Anyway, you’ve got more going on that I can talk you through. I need to feel things anyway. I really do suggest you get the book and use it.

  8. PolyisTCOandbanned on said:

    I went to a shoulder specialist and he wants to do an MRI of the neck now. But I’m sure my GH joint is messed up. I never had a good repair from first surgery. If I burn another MRI would rather do it on all this pec minor or serattus stuff.

    P.s. What’s your take on the coracabrachialis? It looks like a weird little snake. I’m totally looking at anatomy pictures on the web, now…

  9. PolyisTCOandbanned on said:

    Love your explanation. I have a deficient labrum (I think, had a dislocation, had it repaired, but I think inadequate, getting around to doing another surgery after some more research). Anyhow, I have a lot of the symptoms here (hand numbness, feeling that the vein on my bicep is constricted, bicep feeling funny, also seems more developed on that side than the reverse). Lot of feeling in traps and other back muscles on that side of being tired. Basicallt think all of my muscles are working overhard to stabilize a GH joint that is inherently wrong.

    Also had a recent twinge from doing pec fly machine, right ardoun where pec minor attaches.Think I strained it a little. Also, few days later started getting a tearing sensation deep, deep in the underarmpit (when swimming crawl stroke with hand out). Note this one is adifferent location thatn the front, under collar bone sensation from the pec fly twinge. now I’m even getting some sensation in the serratus anternior on ribs (I think, although hard to differentiate from lats or even pec minor). And a little tightness feeling in lat as well.

    I think I need to get my GH fixed. But also think I’m really starting to mess up my pec minor and even some of the other musclles.


    P.s. you rock!

  10. Hi Kim, The usual culprits are the scalene muscles, the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles.

    The most common cause being the scalenes. To find out if it is, rub into your neck just above the collar bone, the entire length of your collar bone. If that is very tender, that is likely the cause. Those muscles go from the side of the upper neck to under the collar bone and attach to the 1st and 2nd rib. See my video on the scalene muscles for a good stretch for it. Even though I say don’t massage it — you actually can. In my opinion – doing it yourself will get you better results, because you can work on it often for a short period of time. When you find a tender spot (not a lump but a tender spot) rub back and forth on that (don’t glide across the skin) with one or two fingers for about 15 seconds, then move on to the next tender spot. Use very firm pressure.

    If it is the pectoralis minor, check for tender spots along the outside of the sternum (breast bone) and also under the collar bone. If you find tender spots, work on them the same way. Also check youtube for stretches.

    Pec minor. see my videos.

    In my opinion (since you have ruled out heart problems) I suggest you try fixing them yourself before you go back to a specialist – since they haven’t helped you.


  11. Hi Hilma,
    Thanks for the videos. Very informative.
    I have been experiencing daily chronic pain in the left pectoral region. After numerous cardiac and pulmonary tests, I’ve been told that it must be “myofascial pain”. I’ve seen an DO who thinks its pect minor and a massage therapist. They’ve done TP injections and TP massage, but I get no relief.
    The pain I have vascilates between the left nipple and just below the left clavical.
    I have no back pain however.
    Does this sound consistent with pect minor problems? If so, why won’t these therapies resolve it? Any suggestions?

  12. Wow! Thank you so much for your full explanation. I am a welder and also work on the computer. I have started feeling numbness and tingling in two of my left fingers which travels up the arm occasionally. I knew it was muscle tightness, but didn’t know how to get at it. I love the massages I get, but the problem was that they wouldn’t last. I will be doing this stretch regularly. Thank you again for the generosity of your information,

  13. Hello Champie,
    As far as the prob. between the shoulder blades, tight pectoralis muscles are generally the cause. My first video has a self massage (which I prefer), the second has stretches. Strengthening the rhomboid muscles (between the shoulder blades) will also help.

    In a nutshell one way to do that is to get one of those elastic exercise bands. Face the edge of an open door. Wrap the band around both door handles and pull back using only the muscles in your upper back to pinch your shoulder blades toward each other.

  14. Champie on said:

    Hi there. First of all let me thank you for your site. My problem is that my muscles in between my shoulder blades are always extremely tight. I usually do not have much pain but it does create discomfort. The muscles on the back of my neck are also ver tight. Both of these muscles start to bother me the most when I am driving. Myquestion to you is, what do you think may be causing this. I went to the dr they did ct scAns and couldn’t find anything wrong. This has been bothering me for yrs and really affects my sleep. I usually wake up with a stiff neck and never fully rest. Would strengthening my back help? If so could you suggest a few excersises? Thanks again

  15. Hi Henrik, thanks for the comments. The pain you feel behind the shoulder blade could be the serattus anterior muscle, but I’m not sure that would go into your hand. This link shows where the pain is felt and also has a stretch for it: http://www.mypressureproducts.com/Serratus%20anterior_trigger_points.htm

    You might also want to search for serattus anterior stretches on the search engines and try youtube. Stretches should never be forced. You will also find strenthening exercises, but I would avoid them for now.

    Anyway, chances are they are aching because you are reaching forward with your arms. You want the height and position of your seat to be such that your elbows hang down from your shoulders.

    Also it is best to have your hand lower than you elbow – but it is important to have the back of the forearm and the back of the hand in a straight line.

    You also want to be balanced, sitting upright as if there is rope pulling you up from the top of your head. That doesn’t mean you want to be stiff and rigid though…. but a place to keep coming back to. HV

  16. Henrik on said:

    Dear Hilma
    thanks for this information!

    I am pianist and was getting really worried for these symptoms, however now it is already much better. But: what muscle it is, behind the should blade, that starts to ache and this ache also transmits to my hand, is it the serrato muscle?

    How can I take care of it, I have a very important exam coming and I need to solve this problem! Can in it be dangerous to feel these impulses in the elbow and in the hand, as mentioned in you article; to practise when feeling these things?
    Usually though, when playing, I dont feel those.

    Never before I payed attention to the function of shoulder, now for a week I have tried to search and take care as much as I can, it has helped. Could you please explain me also, why these muscles start aching from playing a lot, and, what is the right position of shoulder blades when playing the piano (low, high, in, out, front, back), to stay healthy? what muscles keep the balance in the back, when the hands are straightened in front most of the time?

    Thank you so much, and I will send you a cd, if everything goes well!

  17. Glad it is working for you. Remember it is not the only place where nerves can be pinched. Check out the forearm videos. I will also be making neck videos in the future.

  18. Teresa M. on said:

    Thank you-Thank you, Thank you !!! I have been using the stretches for false carpel tunnel for a few days and already have at least an 80% improvement. I expect to fully recover now, though I had been suffering for months, but was determined to go to a medical doctor for the problem only as a last resort, and was very concerned about this becomming a chronic problem — you saved me. Thank you !!!

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