It can be confusing to patients and doctors to diagnose if pain is coming from the neck or the shoulder. This can lead to lost work time, more out-of-pocket expenses, more x-rays and specialist visits.
Pain is more likely coming from the shoulder when it is mainly over the shoulder joint, does not radiate beyond the elbow, and range of motion of the shoulder is impaired. It can be hard to raise your arm above your shoulder. Often pain can be described as aching and throbbing.
On the other hand, pain coming from the neck many times can make it hard to turn your neck, radiate into the arm beyond the elbow, and cause numbness and tingling in the arm. It can often feel better to put your hand behind your head. Pain can be described as sharp and shooting or burning.
There are times when both can occur at the same time as well. It’s important to see your doctor if you are having any of these symptoms. Many times non-surgical options can get you back to feeling better. Learn more at pain.fyi.