There is nothing worse than neck and shoulder pain that limits your ability to perform daily activities. In many instances, patients have a difficult time deciphering whether their pain is a result of a neck injury or a shoulder injury. This is primarily because pain in the neck can radiate into the shoulders (and vice versa). This happens because both the neck and shoulder muscles share the same nerve pathways. 

If a nerve is irritated it is not always going to tell the brain the correct source of where the problem is actually occurring. The disconnect between the source of the pain and where the pain is actually felt is known as “referred pain”. In simple terms, this is pain that occurs in one area but is felt somewhere else.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is an injury to the rotator cuff, a group of tendons and muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint. 

When the rotator becomes damaged, it causes the body to compensate and use other muscle groups in the shoulder to lift, push or pull objects. This compensation can cause strain to the muscles and result in pain in the area from the top of the shoulder into the neck.

Some of the telltale signs of a rotator cuff tear are:

  • Pain that is more persistent at night
  • Pain that does not extend past the elbow
  • Pain when raising the arm or extending the arm behind your head
  • Strains from overexertion, tendonitis from overuse, shoulder joint instability, dislocation and frozen shoulder are among the many other causes of shoulder pain.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Neck injuries are a bit different when it comes to the symptoms. The cervical spine consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, each with a pair of nerves that control different motor functions. 

If a spinal disc or bone spur irritates one of these nerves, the pain can radiate into the shoulders or arms and is known as “Radiculopathy”. This radiating pain often makes it difficult to determine if the pain is stemming from the neck or the shoulder.

One of the telltale signs of a cervical spine condition is if this electric-like stabbing or a burning/tingling in the extremities is made worse by moving your neck. 

Another way of distinguishing the problem area is if you experience relief in pain when you support your neck with a pillow.

Poor posture, trauma, muscle strain and degenerative diseases are other common causes for neck pain.

Cervical Spine Conditions That Can Cause Shoulder Pain

Despite some of these tell-tale signs, the trickiest part is understanding why and how your shoulder pain is being caused by a problem area located in your neck. 

To get to the root of your condition Dr. Alamarie at Southern Pain And Spine Specialists looks at the four main common causes of shoulder pain that stem from the neck- which are:

Cervical spondylosis This is a term that refers to arthritis of the spine.

Disc herniation A disc in your spine is pushed outward and causes your nerves to become compressed.

Spinal stenosis This is usually due to arthritic symptoms and it is the narrowing of the spinal canal.

A ligament or muscle injury This usually occurs after trauma or car accidents.

How to Treat These Conditions

The first step in treating shoulder or neck pain is a proper diagnosis with a specialist. Not treating these symptoms in the early stages can lead to worsening pain or permanent nerve damage, if not treated in the correct manner.

At Southern Pain and Spine Specialists, Dr. Ammar Alamarie and his highly trained team are prepared to treat any musculoskeletal injury or condition. 

We provide expert medical care in a professional, understanding and caring environment to our Charlotte, Matthews and Waxhaw  NC patients. 

Furthermore, Dr. Alamarie has extensive training in the various sub specialties including wrist, spine injuries, joint pain, knee injuries and more. 

So if you’re suffering from any neck or shoulder injury don’t wait any longer to find relief. Contact us today by clicking here to schedule an appointment. 

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