Neck and shoulder pain is a common complaint that affects many people at some point in their lives. However, if the pain begins radiating down your arm, it may indicate a more severe underlying condition and you should see a neurosurgeon or physiatrist to help you get a diagnosis and relief. So what does pain in the Neck and Shoulder Radiating down the arm mean?
Understanding the Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain
Neck and shoulder pain can be a distressing and uncomfortable experience. The pain may range from a dull ache to a sharp and shooting pain. The good news is that identifying the pain’s underlying cause can help determine the most effective treatment.
Several underlying conditions may result in neck and shoulder pain radiating down the arm. Here are six common causes of neck and shoulder pain.
1. Pinched nerve
A pinched nerve in the neck is also known as cervical radiculopathy. The compression on the nerve can cause you to experience pain in your neck and shoulder that radiates down your arm. A pinched nerve can be caused by the following:
- A herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone spurs
- Degenerative disc disease
2. Rotator cuff injury
Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach your shoulder blade to your upper arm bone. An injury to the rotator cuff, such as a tear or strain, can cause radiating arm pain.
Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a small, fluid-filled sac that helps cushion your shoulder joint. When the bursa becomes inflamed, it can cause you to experience radiating arm pain. Overuse, injury, or infection can cause bursitis.
4. Frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. If you have a frozen shoulder, you may feel a dull or aching pain that radiates to your upper arm.
Arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation in one or more joints. You may feel arthritis pain in your neck and shoulder area, accompanied by stiffness and reduced range of motion. If arthritis is the cause of the pain, your symptoms may worsen with time.
Tendinitis can occur when there is an inflammation of the tendons that connect your muscles to your bones. This condition is often caused by repetitive motion or overuse and may be accompanied by swelling and stiffness.
Recognizing More Serious Symptoms
Pain that radiates down your arm can also be a symptom of a heart attack. If you are experiencing this type of pain accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, or sweating, seek emergency medical care.
Other signs that something more serious is going on include:
- Numbness or tingling in the arm or hand
- Weakness in the arm or hand
- Loss of coordination
- Difficulty lifting objects
- Sudden onset of severe pain
In the event you have these types of symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away.
Take Charge of Your Health
Neck and shoulder pain that radiates down your arm can be a bothersome and uncomfortable experience. Your doctor can help you accurately diagnose the underlying cause of your pain and recommend appropriate treatment options to help relieve your symptoms and prevent further complications.
If neck and shoulder pain is holding you back from the activities you love schedule an appointment today!