Sometimes, you can feel shoulder problems in your neck. That’s because shoulder pain causes can sometimes be linked to issues with your neck.
In this blog post, OrthoIndy shoulder surgeon Dr. Kevin O’Neill discusses what to do when persistent shoulder pain causes ongoing discomfort and which conditions of neck and types of shoulder injuries are sometimes connected.
Can common shoulder pain causes also contribute to neck pain?
“In the simplest cases, pain when moving your shoulder is likely from a shoulder injury. Pain, when you move your neck, happens when you have a neck injury,” says Dr. O’Neill.
If the nerves in your neck get irritated, pain—and even sometimes numbness and tingling—can radiate down to your shoulder.
“Many cases are not this straightforward. The most effective way to get a correct diagnosis is to see a specialist who treats both the spine and shoulder.”—Dr. Kevin O’Neill, OrthoIndy shoulder doctor
Make an appointment with a shoulder specialist
How do I know if my shoulder pain is coming from my neck?
Symptoms will vary depending on the condition or injury. Common neck pain symptoms include:
- Stiff neck
- Sharp pain
- General soreness
- Decreased ability to move your head
- Muscle tightness and spasms and your neck
Symptoms of common shoulder pain causes include:
- Sudden shoulder swelling
- Weakness or numbness in the arm or hand
- Dull shoulder aches
- Sharp pain under your shoulder blade
- Pain radiating from your neck to your shoulder blade
Why do my shoulder and neck hurt?
Some conditions that cause shoulder pain can make both your neck and your shoulders ache.
“There are a few conditions in the neck that commonly cause shoulder pain,” says Dr. O’Neill. “For example, compression or irritation of the nerves coming out the neck will often cause pain to radiate to the shoulder.”
When your nerves are irritated, numbness and tingling can also occur in your arm. There can also be a sign of weakness in your shoulder muscles.
If you directly injure, sprain, or strain any muscle connecting your shoulder to your spine, it will cause pain in your neck and shoulder.
Arthritis of the neck and shoulder
“The most common condition that affects both the shoulder and neck is arthritis,” says Dr. O’Neill.
Arthritis is one of the most common shoulder pain causes. If you have arthritis in both the shoulder and neck, pain can radiate through both at the same time.
To determine whether you have neck or shoulder arthritis, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe your symptoms, and conduct a physical examination.
An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine other shoulder pain causes.
What is the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain causes?
Neck and shoulder pain can hinder your daily life. There are some home remedies to help relieve the pain you are feeling in your shoulder or neck.
- Keep your glasses prescription up to date. Sometimes, when your glasses are old, you tilt your head to see better.
- Don’t use too many pillows. Your neck’s range of motion may repress your neck’s range of motion.
- Use over-the-counter pain medication.
- Get a massage to prevent common shoulder pain causes.
- Change your ergonomics. Put your computer at eye level, prop up any tablet you use on a pillow and use hands-free functions on your phone to keep your neck and shoulders at the correct angle.
When should I see a doctor for shoulder and neck pain?
“Many patients treat their neck or shoulder pain with over-the-counter medications along with resting and avoiding activities that aggravate the pain,” says Dr. O’Neill. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to see a doctor for shoulder pain causes.
If your neck or shoulder pain persists after conservative treatment, Dr. O’Neill suggests getting it checked by an OrthoIndy professional who specializes in diagnosing spine and shoulder pain causes.
Find out what’s really causing your shoulder pain
If your shoulder pain causes you to miss out on normal day-to-day activities, we can help. Request an appointment online or call OrthoIndy at 317.802.2000 to book an appointment with one of our shoulder specialists.
If your shoulder injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.