Back of Shoulder Pain: Your Neck May Be the Culprit!

By /

Two years ago, I went into work to see patients with a sensation that someone was pushing the back of my shoulder forward. I initially thought that it was a rib moving in a weird way, but it soon morphed into awful back of shoulder pain. For two weeks I was convinced this was a shoulder problem, but later I realized it was from my neck. Ultimately our physicians got rid of the issue using an injection of the growth factors from my own blood platelets, but not before several weeks of agony and inability to sleep. This blog is to help patients identify the causes for pain in this spot and avoid the misery of treating the wrong area!

The pain I had was epic. While I still went to work, I would be up most of the night trying any combination of pillows to find a comfortable position. Since I felt a stabbing and burning pain in the back of the shoulder, I was initially convinced that I had a shoulder problem. In fact, I would have placed a large bet on it, but subsequent treatment of my shoulder with platelet rich plasma injections did very little. When it occurred to me that it could be my neck, which was impacted as well, on a lark I asked one of our doctors to inject platelet lysate around my lower neck nerves on that side. I remember going home early that day and settling into bed with the first relief I had felt in weeks. It was magic and in that moment I knew we had found the spot. Later MRIs confirmed that I has cervical stenosis (likely from carrying around a relatively sizable head my whole life and lifting weights that were way too heavy for my frame), a condition where neck arthritis can press on nerves.

How could a pissed off nerve in the neck convince a physician he had a shoulder problem? We’ve known for a while that the lower neck joints (facets), when injured can refer pain to the back of the shoulder. In addition, this is also a common referral site for the lower neck nerves. Why? When we grow in our mother’s womb, these areas grow out of one another and the wiring of the neck and shoulder is still a bit mixed up together in adulthood. Hence, even though a neck nerve or joint is complaining, to the patient it feels like a shoulder problem. This phenomenon regrettably has launched many unnecessary shoulder surgeries through the years when some small incidental rotator cuff finding is seen on MRI and the patient ends up getting it surgically repaired only to continue to have pain in the same spot after surgery.

The upshot? The body can be strange at times. Always remember that where it hurts, may or may not be where the damage is located. If you have pain in the back of the shoulder and treatment there is doing nothing, start asking your doctor to take a closer look at your neck, you might be very glad you did as there’s nothing like that moment when the right stuff gets injected into the right spot and you finally know you’re on the mend!

Get health and wellness information from a trusted source.

By submitting the form, you are agreeing that you read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may also contact you via email, phone, and other electronic means to communicate information about our products and services. We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 thoughts on “Back of Shoulder Pain: Your Neck May Be the Culprit!

  1. Jim Murray

    I have severe arthritis in my neck. Would a stem cell procedure be able to alleviate the pain?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Jim,
      Neck pain from arthritis is something we treat regularly. As you can see from the blog, the trick is an accurate diagnosis of exactly what’s causing the pain and treating those things before they create bigger problems. This section of the website will give you an idea of we how we treat neck issues:https://regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/back-surgery-alternative/ If you’d like to have one of our physicians review your case with you by phone, please fill out the “Am I a Regenexx candidate” form on that page. Let us know if we can be of further assistance. Hoping you feel better soon!

  2. seema batra

    This article really helped me in realising my problem.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi seema,
      Glad it helped!

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

CONTACT US

9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021
888-525-3005

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2020. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

LinkedIn
Email