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Neck and Shoulder Pain: Causes and Treatment

Neck and Shoulder Pain: Causes and Treatment

Causes & Treatment for Neck & Shoulder Pain

The neck and shoulder bones are supported by muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, ligaments and other supporting structures. Simple strains as well as life threatening conditions like heart attack can cause pain in the neck and shoulder area.  Shoulder and neck pain occur due to injury to muscles and ligaments. A broken collarbone, bursitis, broken shoulder blade, rotator cuff injury, whiplash injury, tendonitis, among other things, can cause pain in neck and shoulder regions.


  • Pain in the neck and shoulder regions are usually accompanied by symptoms of weakness, numbness, chillness, color changes, inflammation and deformities. Joint pain is yet another common problem. Joint pain treatment options depend on the causes of joint pain and include anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and dietary supplements.
  • Pain due to rotator cuff muscle strain can occur either due to tears of the muscles or inflammation. The most commonly affected tendon in rotator cuff injury is the supraspinatus muscle. The glenohumeral joint or the shoulder joint stability depends on the rotator cuff group of muscles. The rotator cuff muscles help shoulder stability and control during joint rotation. The rotator cuff muscles include Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis. Sports that demand active and vigorous rotation of the shoulder joint often put these rotator cuff muscles under strain, causing pain. Pain due to rotator cuff muscles strain can occur either due to tears of the muscles or inflammation.
  • Trauma or injury to the neck and back can lead to spinal injury and permanent disability. Injury to any of the bones in the vertebral column can cause pain and spinal strain. Many patients with spinal tumors also present with back pain as the primary symptom occurs at rest and worsens at night.
  • Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues of the neck including the ligaments, tendons, and muscles resulting in pain and stiffness in the neck. Whiplash is common in car accidents and sports accidents.
  • Psychological tensions seem to cause pain too as in case of Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). Tension Myositis Syndrome is a condition where psychosomatic musculoskeletal and nerve symptoms manifest as pain, especially in the back.
  • A shoulder dislocation is a condition where the top of the arm bone (the humerus) loses contact with the socket of the scapula or shoulder blade due to injury. Shoulder dislocation results in severe pain in the upper regions of the body including neck and poor mobility of the shoulders.


Although physical examination is adequate to detect most injuries, X-ray investigation, EEG recording and CT Scans are done depending on the site of injury and gravity of the injury. Pain in the shoulder and neck can be described as sharp, dull, burning or stabbing pain. Simple strains, as well as life threatening conditions like heart attack, can cause pain in the shoulder area.