Shoulder Pain caused by Disc Degeneration in the Neck
July 20, 2016
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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