What to Do When Shoulder Pain is Actually Neck Pain


May 4, 2021

Are you experiencing mild to severe shoulder pain? Did you know that though the pain might be on the shoulder, your neck could be the problem? Yes, when you experience pain in the shoulder, the real issue might be your neck. But you might be asking yourself, “how is this possible?” according to medical experts, the way our body transmits the pain from the source to the brain, sometimes it may not be accurate. This is because the neck and shoulder are connected via multiple nerve pathways, which at times, the brain fails to record the real source of the pain. Whenever there is a neck injury, the brain does not always trace the pain to the source.

Shoulder Pain When It is Really a Neck Issue

The cervical spine in the neck has eight nerve roots that branch and cross through parts of the shoulder. Suppose a cervical nerve root gets compressed or irritated. In that case, it may result in a pain that revolves along the nerve path into the shoulder and at times extending to your arm, medically referred to as cervical radiculopathy.

What Causes Cervical Radiculopathy?

Osteoarthritis of the spine

For middle-aged people, degenerative changes occur in the disc at this stage, though it is a normal process is exerting pressure on the nerve root. A condition referred to as Cervical foraminal stenosis occurs when the foramen narrows and becomes smaller, resulting in the nerve root having a smaller space, and thus, it gets impinged.


The condition is mainly caused by a herniated disc from strenuous activity or an injury for young people. The disc herniate with movement such as bending, twisting, lifting, or pulling something. A cervical herniated disc is common mostly in younger people.

What are the symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy?

One of the main symptoms of cervical radiculopathy is pain that spread from the arm, neck, chest, upper back, or shoulders. In case you are experiencing such symptoms, it is best to seek professional assistance for more tests. More symptoms are numbness, tingling of hands, weakness in muscles, and more.

What are the risk factors?

Following factors that may contribute to the risk of developing cervical radiculopathy, they include:


As your age increases, the risk of contracting the condition increases. Some experts suggest that the risk starts from the age of 40.

Continuous strenuous activities.

If you engage in strenuous activities or sports with a high frequency of injuries, you have an increased risk of having the condition.

Repetitive neck motions.

Activities such as driving a tractor that requires you to rotate your neck frequently is a risk factor.


To avoid the severe pain that emanates from your neck, try these remedies:

  • Participate in yoga programs
  • Use anti-inflammatory together with muscle relaxant
  • Perform therapy to your neck after strenuous activity

Seek professional help

Many people experience shoulder pains which is a neck issue. Please do not wait for the pain to escalate or when it is late. Make a move today and contact Southeast Pain and Spine Care for a checkup to determine your actual problem. Our specialized team interacts with you and offers you specialized attention compatible with your medical requirements.