Reader Question: My Bra Strap Pinching The Brachial Nerve On My Shoulder!

A while back Irene, a reader from Ottawa with severe scoliosis wrote in with this problem:

For the post few years I have relied primarily on extenders -- an elastic piece with hooks and receptors which is attached to the bra back.  But the same problem of the straps being moved so far over that they fall off.   I remedied this by attaching a thin elastic between the straps to keep them loosely taut.  However, I find that one strap presses on my brachial nerve, causing pain in the shoulder and arm area. This also happens with racer back and cross-backed bras.
 I can only wear the bra on “out” days.  Otherwise I go braless and wear seasonal vests for cover.
I have also tried sticky bras, but at my age, 74, droop makes this unattractive.  Strapless bras work for short periods, but the underwires do dig in.
I had a lumpectomy 18 years ago and use a variety of padding, depending on what bra I’m wearing .
Would be great if someone invented a “better mousetrap” for this problem.

Dear Irene

If your bra strap is putting that much pressure on your shoulder, you might need to find a bra that actually fits you properly. Support should come from other areas besides the shoulder-strap. In this post I have explained why bra straps falling off might be a sign you are wearing a bra that doesn't fit your correctly, and what to do about it. If you've never had a really well-fitting bra, you could be in for a very pleasant surprise! 

This post about fitting adjustments for women of an advanced age is also worth reading. Also here are tips for bra fitting for women with scoliosis.

Chances are that when you find a better fitting bra, it will not pinch your brachial nerve, because the band will be doing 90% of the work (instead of the straps carrying the entire weight). However if you still find that one strap pinches your brachial nerve, here are some products to try out:

* Comfy Shoulders from Fashion forms. These (or similar)  gel cushions are available online, as well as in several brick-and-mortar stores.

* Broad bra straps. I have used comfort straps from Ewa Michalak (middle picture) myself and find them very comfortable. Similar straps can be found in many lingerie and sewing stores.

I hope this helps! If any of you lovely readers have any tips for Irene, let me know in the comments!
Photo credit: VenusianGlow
Photo by Morgan v on Unsplash

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