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Shoulder pain: is it coming from your neck?

We recently had a patient come in for shoulder pain that he had in both of the shoulders after lifting weights.

We’ve seen a lot of people with injuries like this over the years, and it wasn’t anything that was uncommon for us to hear.

However, one of the things that we need to rule out is where is that shoulder pain coming from? It could be numerous structures at the shoulder, such as tendencies, rotator cuff, nerve irritation, etc. Or it could be coming from somewhere else, such as the neck.

So what are some signs that your shoulder pain may be coming from your neck?

  1. If your pain is on both shoulders, at the same spot, and often present at the same time, the neck needs to be rolled out. We tell patients, it is rare for you to have the same type of pain, at the same spot on both sides, at the same time and it be a shoulder issue (or a foot issue, or a hand issue, etc.)
  2. If you are having pain that radiates down the arm, especially down to the elbow or into the hand, the neck needs to be considered.
  3. If you are experiencing numbness and tingling in the arm, the neck needs to be considered.

When we examined this particular patient he had good overall range of motion and mobility through his shoulder and we really couldn’t reproduce his pain with any shoulder motions or tests. But his pain pattern correlated really closely to where the C5 nerve would tend to refer pain.

As we looked more at it, he had a posture such that C5 was taking on a lot more stress, and this was likely happening more so when he would add a load to it, such as during his weightlifting.

Long story short, we determined this guys shoulder pain was very likely a neck issue. Still absolutely treatable, but he needed someone to look at his unique situation and hone in on the real issue.

At R3 Physio. we will not treat you like a number or like every pain is the same and gets the same treatment. You are a unique person, with a unique history. It is time you were treated that way!

Jason Racca, PT

Jason Racca, PT, DPT, CFMT, OCS,

R3 Physio

We Offer Hope To People In Keller/Ft. Worth, TX To Resolve Long Standing Pain So They Can Enjoy An Active Life With Their Loved Ones. Even If All Other Treatments Have Failed, We Are Willing To Step Into The Impossible.