Shoulder pain from neck

Is Your Shoulder Pain Coming From Your Neck?

Shoulder pain is a common complaint among individuals of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of different factors, and it is important to properly diagnose the source of the pain in order to effectively treat it.

We are going to dive into the possibility that an individual's shoulder pain may originate from their neck and discuss how this condition can be diagnosed and treated.

The relationship between neck pain and shoulder pain has been extensively studied over the years. Research has shown that cervical spine problems—such as cervical spondylosis or cervical myelopathy—may lead to radiating shoulder pain.

Additionally, certain conditions such as rotator cuff tears, bursitis, and tendinopathy may also cause referred pain in the neck region. When trying to determine if your shoulder pain is in fact coming from your shoulder you must rule out the neck as a culprit.  



Most Common Causes Of Shoulder Pain

Pain in the shoulder can be an incredibly debilitating experience, leaving even the most active individuals feeling like they’re stuck. This could be due to the fact that their shoulder isn’t the pain generator.

When determining the shoulder's involvement in pain there are several potential culprits that could be at play here. Exercise-induced pain, poor posture, joint instability, and rotator cuff injuries have all been known to cause shoulder discomfort.

All of these scenarios require different levels of treatment but they are all specific to the shoulder.

It is possible that neck injury can also lead to pain in the shoulder area but further investigation is required to ascertain whether or not this is indeed the source of one's pain. Going forward, let’s explore the potential connection between neck injury and shoulder pain. We will help shed light on how best to address discomfort caused by a neck injury.



Neck Injury Causing Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain with neck involvement can be a real challenge to diagnose and treat. According to the Mckenzie Institute, one of the most common causes of this type of pain is a "Joint Derangement." This condition occurs when a segment of joints in the body lacks motion, leading to improper mechanics.

Research has shown that joint derangement originating from the spine is most often due to discogenic changes caused by sustained poor posture and muscle coordination. As a result, the disc in our spine may change shape slightly, leading to increased pressure on exiting nerve roots. These nerve roots are the same ones that innervate the skin and muscles of our shoulder. When they become irritated, they can cause shoulder pain.

To determine whether a patient's shoulder pain is caused by a joint derangement, a Mckenzie clinician can perform a simple assessment. By bringing the patient through a series of exercises designed to relieve symptoms, the clinician can identify the root cause of the pain. If done correctly, these exercises will cause the symptoms to migrate from the peripheral area, such as the shoulder, towards the spine. This phenomenon, known as centralization, is a positive sign that the exercises being performed are effective.

By identifying the underlying cause of shoulder pain with neck involvement, patients can receive more targeted treatment and achieve better outcomes.


How Often Does This Occur

Have you ever considered that your shoulder pain might actually be caused by a neck condition? The EXPOSS study (Extremity Pain Of Spinal Origin) sheds light on this issue by investigating the misdiagnosis of extremity conditions as symptoms from the spine.

The study involved 84 patients with perceived shoulder pain, and the results are surprising: 40 of these patients were actually diagnosed with a neck condition, rather than a shoulder condition. In other words, nearly half of all cases (47.6%) of shoulder pain can be attributed to the neck.

This statistic is alarming, as it highlights the possibility that many patients are being misdiagnosed and receiving the wrong treatment for their condition.



Signs And Symptoms Of Your Neck Causing Shoulder Pain

Common signs that may indicate neck-related shoulder pain include 

  • Pain at rest and during movement
  • Numbness, tingling
  • Burning sensations in the shoulder, arm or hand
  • Decreased range of motion in both the neck and shoulder 
  • Increased pain in the morning 
  • Increased pain after sustained postures 
  • Radiating pain from the shoulder down the arm 
  • Increased tightness or tension in your shoulders and upper back muscles

Distinguishing between cervical spine joint derangement and a true shoulder pathology can be difficult, and the only way to determine the difference is through a Mckenzie evaluation. This evaluation can identify the source of pain as either the neck or the shoulder, allowing for appropriate treatment to begin.

With this knowledge, healthcare providers can create a targeted treatment plan that addresses the underlying cause of the patient's pain. Whether it is the neck or the shoulder, understanding the root cause of the pain is essential for effective treatment.

By taking the time to perform a Mckenzie evaluation, healthcare providers can provide better care to their patients and improve outcomes. So, if you're experiencing shoulder pain, don't hesitate to seek out a Mckenzie clinician to determine the cause and get the right treatment for you.



Frequently Asked Questions

How long does treatment take?

The length of treatment depends on the severity of the condition but typically ranges from 3-4 weeks.

How Can I Prevent This From Ocurring?

The number one cause of shoulder pain is sustained postures. To prevent this, it's important to maintain a posture that is always moving. Avoid staying in any one position for too long by changing positions throughout the day. This can help keep your body happy and healthy.

Is There A Specific Treatment For Shoulder Pain Caused By Neck Injury?

Yes, the Mckenzie method is an effective treatment option for shoulder pain caused by a neck injury. During your care, you'll be given at-home exercises to boost the effects of your in-office treatment. With a combination of at-home exercises and chiropractic care, such as joint manipulation, complete resolution of pain is possible.

Why is my shoulder pain worse in the morning? 

This symptom could indicate that the shoulder pain you're experiencing is actually coming from your neck. During the night, as we sleep, our discs rehydrate and increase in size, causing a slight increase in pressure on the aggravated nerve. This could be the reason why your shoulder pain is worse in the morning.



Final Thoughts 

Shoulder pain is a common issue that can be caused by a variety of factors. Understanding the cause and mechanism of the pain is essential to creating an effective treatment plan.

It is possible for a neck injury or dysfunction to be the source of shoulder pain, and there are tests that can help identify this.

To prevent shoulder pain from occurring, it is important to move throughout the day, there is no one correct posture.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating shoulder pain, working with an experienced sports chiropractor to create a personalized plan can help you experience relief quickly and effectively.


Denner Chiropractic & Performance | Charlotte, North Carolina

At Denner Chiropractic & Performance located in Charlotte, North Carolina our rehab chiropractic care incorporates rehabilitation, joint manipulation, soft tissue, and dry needling to help you achieve pain-free movement in life and sport. We are more than happy to discuss any concerns or questions you have about your condition or how we can help. Located on our main page or in our resource library tab is a sign-up for a free Discovery Call. During this time we will get to know you and your pain points. Let’s see if we are the right provider for you, schedule your Discovery Call today!   




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