The neck and shoulders are extremely sensitive parts of the human body, so, should a problem occur in the area, it may cause a lot of inconvenience and pain. Simple things like turning your head to see what’s going on to your left or right may become a challenge. There are lots of factors that may cause pain in the neck and shoulders, and it takes a lengthy professional examination to identify the exact cause. However, there are two certainties: the cause may lie either in the cervical area of the spine or in the shoulders.
Shoulder pain resulting from cervical issues
In this case the cause is hidden in the cervical section of the spinal column, which consists of seven mobile and small-sized vertebrae, intervertebral discs, muscles, ligaments, and nerves branching off from the spinal cord. All these elements are interconnected, and each one plays its own vital role. Pain occurs when these elements are affected by a disease or physical impact (arthritis, dislocation, herniation, tumor, etc.) In most cases, we refer to this kind of pain as cervical radiculopathy.
Why does pain travel to shoulders and arms? There are bunches of nerves branching off from the spinal cord, called spinal nerve roots. There are two such roots in each vertebra, and they come out through holes located on the left and right sides of the vertebrae.
A herniation, cyst, inflammation, etc., may press on or affect nerve roots otherwise and cause pain, numbness, and tingling. Because more nerves branch off from nerve roots, these sensations may irradiate to shoulders, arms, and other areas. In this case, it is quite difficult for a patient or non-professional to identify the exact cause of pain, and a close examination is required.
Cervical radiculopathy has lots of causes. Apart from those mentioned above, these include spinal stenosis, cervical spondylosis, aka neck arthritis, degenerative processes in intervertebral cartilages (spinal discs), bone spurs.
Also, cervical radiculopathy results from physical impact, which, in turn, leads to soft tissue damage. Not uncommonly, it occurs as a consequence of old traumas received in accidents.
Neck pain resulting from shoulder issues
In cases whereby neck pain results from damage to areas and organs other than the spinal column, a professional check is required too. Factors are even more varied that in the previous case. As a rule, shoulder-related neck pain results from hard and soft tissue damage. The most common causes are nasty experiences like collar bone damage, rotator cuff injuries, fractured shoulder blade, etc. These conditions are often accompanied with sprained, torn, or stretched tendons and ligaments, and, most commonly, they result from sports traumas, as well as other types of accidents.
What to pay attention to
If one day you experience pain in your neck and shoulders, please, don’t jump to conclusions. Sit still and think it over. Have you been involved in a car accident before? Have you gone in for sports? Not uncommonly, consequences of such traumas begin to manifest themselves years or even decades later.
Seek qualified medical assistance!
As follows from the above, there are tons of possible causes of neck-and-shoulder pain. You cannot eliminate pain without addressing the exact cause, which only a qualified doctor can identify. Sure, pain-killers may give you a temporary relief, but they won’t do away with the cause itself. Contact your health care provider and sign up for a medical check. Discuss with your doctor all physical activities you have ever been involved in. Also, address your family history, because some conditions can be inherited.