‘Shoulder Pain caused by Disc Degeneration in the Neck’

Ongoing achy shoulder pain does not always involve an injury or dysfunction of the shoulder joint, indeed the shoulder pain may stem from the neck region. A bulging or degenerated disc of the neck can be the source of shoulder pain. This is because areas of the disc when irritated can send abnormal signals to the spinal cord, which in turn sends a pain response to different areas of the shoulder. The area of the shoulder depends on which vertebra level that the disc is irritated. So without the cervical nerve root being impinged by the bulging disc, the bulging disc itself can cause achy pain into the shoulder region. Indeed the absence of pins & needles sensation and numbness rules out nerve compression and instead focus on disk related nerve pain.

Symptoms of Bulging disc of the neck that is causing shoulder pain:

  • Achy pain travelling from the back of the head to the jaw bone

  • Achy pain in the upper spine and shoulder blade region

  • Pain refers down to the elbow region, but not below the elbow

  • In up to 50 % of cases achy pain can be experienced in both shoulder blades

  • Shoulder Pain, but pain is absent from the front bicep muscles

  • Neck Pain experienced when coughing and sneezing and sometimes when going to the toilet.

  • Symptoms reproduced with neck movements and not so much with shoulder movement

Alternatively, there can be significant degeneration of the disc causing impingement of an inflamed nerve root within the boney vertebra of the neck that supply control and sensation to the muscles around the shoulder. In addition a degenerative facet joint with osteophytosis (bone degeneration) can cause nerve root compression leading to neck, shoulder and arm pain

Symptoms of cervical nerve impingement;

  • Sharp or electrical pain in the neck and shoulder region

  • Numbness, pins & needles and weakness down the arm and hand and finger-tips

  • Extending the neck backwards and looking over your shoulder can aggravate the symptoms

  • Patients often note relief by placing symptomatic painful hand on their heads.

Tomás Ryan is a Registered Physical Therapist with The Irish Association of Physical Therapy and is based in Thurles. Contact Number: 0504 26672 Email: tomaspryan@gmail.com

Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square

Physiotherapy & Injury Rehabilitation Clinic in Tipperary

0504 26672


The Surgery, Fianna Road, Thurles


Riverside Medical Centre, 7 Upper

Irishtown, Clonmel

  • Facebook Basic Black

© 2016 Injury Solutions Clinic

Insurers : You can receive rebates on your Physical Therapy visits.Tax relief is available on all Physical Therapy costs, Tax relief may be claimed by filling in the MED 1 form available from www.revenue.ie.

Receipts are provided after each treatment for tax or health insurance companies.