Common Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain

Neck and Shoulder Pain are Common Problems

In fact, shoulder pain can cause neck pain and conversely, neck pain can cause shoulder pain.

Neck pain in older people is often due to underlying arthritis that causes muscle spasm.

Younger people may get neck pain from a muscle injury. Neck pain is also common after a car accident commonly known as whiplash.

This is due the sudden stopping of your body and your head continues forwards or backwards pulling on your neck muscles. This can be very painful.

Shoulder pain can be muscle pain, but may also be related to the bones.

If lifting your arm overhead hurts, it may be impingement or rotator cuff tendonitis.

If your shoulder is not moving well, this may be a frozen shoulder which is a very painful condition that can take months to improve.

Shoulder pain with crunching and popping may be from arthritis and this is best diagnosed with an x-ray. If shoulder pain is accompanied by weakness, make sure you did not tear your rotator cuff and this is best diagnosed with an MRI.

Why Shoulder Pain Can Cause Neck Pain

So why would shoulder pain cause neck pain? If you don’t move your shoulder well, you will pull on your scapula (shoulder blade) which will pull on the muscles going to your neck.

This will cause spasm and pain in your neck. Similarly, if you cannot move your neck well you may overly rotate your shoulder and stress it to the point where you sprain it and get pain.

Shoulder pain and neck pain rarely require surgery, but usually will respond to appropriate therapy.

If the neck pain is causing symptoms down your arm such as numbness, tingling or weakness, get this checked as you may have a herniated disc which can be very serious.

If any pain persists for more than a couple of days, don’t ignore it. See an orthopedic specialist and get yourself checked out.

Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Health Associates and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.