shoulder pain can actually radiate from the neckBoth the shoulder and the neck are leading sources of pain for many Americans every year. In fact, close to 1.2 million in 2010 visited an emergency room for shoulder issues alone.1 Due to the way our bodies are designed however shoulder pain can actually imply a neck injury. When the brain has trouble determining the location of a neck or shoulder injury, pain can radiate through the shoulder and down the arm. Whether the source of your pain is your neck or shoulder, the medical experts at Onto Orthopedics can help diagnose and treat your injury. Read more to discover some common ways to help pin-point the location of an injury and relieve the pain it causes. If you continue to experience neck or shoulder pain, please feel free to contact our orthopedic office to schedule an appointment.

The Shoulder:

How do you differentiate between pain from a shoulder injury and pain referred from the neck? One common strategy is to isolate the source of pain as much as possible. Most shoulder pain is caused by injuries to the rotator cuff, a series of joint-stabilizing muscles and tendons. As we age, the rotator cuff can become damaged and produce shoulder pain. If your pain occurs when lifting your arm above your head or while lifting objects, is dull or aching, subsides when you rest your arm, and originates in the shoulder itself, you might have a shoulder injury.

The Neck:

In many instances, shoulder pain can actually be “referred” pain from the neck. The neck joints or “vertebrae” allow you to rotate and nod your head. Both these joints and neck nerves can become inflamed, causing pain that originates in the neck. Common causes are both acute and chronic injuries such as arthritis. While a thorough exam should be performed to narrow down the cause of pain, several indicators may point to a neck injury as a cause of your pain. These include pain that radiates down to your shoulder blade, tingling, stabbing, or burning pain and pain that diminished while supporting your neck.


Regardless of the cause of your neck or shoulder pain, many pain-relieving treatments are typically available. Pain derived from shoulder problems can often be relieved through resting the joint from pain-aggravating activities, icing the shoulder, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication. On the other hand, back-derived pain can typically be relieved through physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, cold or hot packs, and injections to reduce swelling and pain.

If you are experiencing neck or shoulder pain and none of these common pain-reducing solutions have worked, feel free to contact our office. Regardless of the origin, Dr. Shawn Hayden and the medical experts at Onto Orthopedics can help diagnose and treat the cause of your shoulder or neck pain.