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  • Writer's pictureTaruna Rijhwani

Can Nerves in the Neck be the Source of Your Shoulder Pain?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

Is your shoulder pain not responding to lacrosse balls, rolling and massages?

If yes, you are not alone. So many people and unfortunately clinicians tend to focus on the location of symptoms itself i.e. if your shoulder is hurting, a good exam, X-rays or MRI of your shoulder will be performed. While all these images may pick up on some incidental findings meaning degenerative changes in the shoulder or wear & tear in the joint, they may nothing to do with your pain.

There is increasing amount of research that supports the origin of shoulder/shoulder blade symptoms coming from your cervical spine. Sure, the structures in your shoulder could generate pain also but this cannot be stated conclusively until a good & thorough exam of your cervical and thoracic spine has been done to rule out the spine.

This feeling of pain and symptoms at a different location than the source is scientifically called as referred or radiating pain. A common example I give my patients is the symptoms of heart attack. When someone is experiencing heart attack, they typically feel the symptoms in the left shoulder, arm or jaw even though the pain originates from the heart. That is because of the nerves that supply the heart also supply these areas.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Remember, treating the source beats treating just the symptom any day of the week.

So if you or someone you know has shoulder symptoms, feel free to call our office at

571-308-8252 to speak to your Mckenzie Diplomate Physical Therapist or even better schedule a Free Discovery Session

We also know not everyone is ready to commit to regular physical therapy appointments, and that’s why we offer our Free Information Guide! This Guide is for people in our community who want really valuable, expert information about their Neck Pain or Shoulder problems. We know it’s confusing out there with all of the information floating around on Google and Facebook, and this is a valuable first step towards getting some real answers for your problem.

PS – If you found this information helpful, please share this with a friend or on your Facebook feed.

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