Neck Shoulder Arm Pain

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain


Aching neck and shoulder
Aching neck and shoulder? They could be connected.

Sometimes pain appears in the neck and down the shoulder and arms. But can these different areas of pain be connected? The answer often is YES!

Remember, the body rarely presents you with pain at the site of an injury. When this type of pain occurs, it is usually due usually due to nerves in the neck being trapped, damaged or impinged. Hence, the importance of a correct medical diagnosis.

The causes of neck, shoulder and arm pain that I see usually result from injuries due to poor sitting posture (particularly “computer posture”) as well as whiplash type injuries sustained in sporting activities and road traffic accidents (whiplash). The symptoms that patients typically describe include a dull or sharp ache in the neck, with aches or sensations that shoot down into the shoulders and arms.

So lets look at what causes this type of pain…

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The Causes of Neck Shoulder Arm Pain

As mentioned earlier, when patients refer themselves to my clinic with this type of pain, they usually result from having a poor sitting posture and whiplash.

Remember that your neck is made up of 7 bones and between each bone nerves comes out on either side and travel down your arm. The bone level at which your nerve is trapped will influence where in the neck, shoulder and arm that you feel your pain. Pins and needles as well as numbness can also be associated with neck, shoulder arm pain.

If you get this type of pain, then a medical diagnosis of your neck, shoulder and arm pain is of vital importance. Whatever is trapping or impinging your nerve - it must be corrected. Usually this requires the help of a chartered Physiotherapist. Following a couple sessions with a physiotherapist, your movement problem should be resolved - and then appropriate exercises need to be carried out to prevent a relapse. Finally, posture exercises will be given so that your neck, shoulder and arm pain does not re-occur.

If your neck, shoulder and arm pain does not respond to treatment within 3-5 days then talk to your doctor or physio about investigating the problem further and to eliminate any other possible cause of your symptoms.

Long term management to prevent neck, shoulder and arm pain is generally down to maintaining a good active posture.

Sometimes, as I write articles for this website, I have a mild ache from my neck through my arm - but as I become aware of my posture correct my sitting posture this ache starts to disappear! Sometimes it really can be that simple.

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While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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