Shoulder vs. Neck Pain Symptoms

Even though the neck (or cervical spine) and the shoulder are closely connected, there are accompanying symptoms for each.

Clinic identifies pain that originates in your shoulder typically:

  • Develops in the shoulder itself or on the outside of your upper arm
  • Radiates pain into your upper arm
  • Gets worse when you reach overhead or behind your back, or when lifting
  • Is worse at night, especially when lying on your side
  • Is more of a dull, persistent ache
  • Feels better after resting your arm
Some neck pain can cause these symptoms:
  • Radiates to your shoulder blade, or close to or on the side of your neck
  • Pain that feels like an electrical shock, sometimes radiating down your arm
  • Radiates pain down past your elbow or even into your hand
  • Pain that gets worse when you twist or move your neck
  • Pain that’s not relieved by rest, but may be relieved with support

Common causes of neck pain are

  • Abnormalities in the bone or joints causing imbalance
  • Trauma
  • Poor posture
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Tumors
  • Muscle strain

Because pain in one area can so often be confused with another, a thorough exam must be done:-

  • including range of motion,
  • strength testing
  • provocative neck and shoulder maneuvers.
Common causes of shoulder pain are
  • Strains from overexertion
  • Tendonitis from overuse
  • Shoulder joint instability
  • Dislocation
  • Clavicle or upper arm bone fractures
  • Frozen shoulder (stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint)
  • Pinched nerves (also called cervical radiculopathy)
  • Rotator cuff tears

(rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint)

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