Lasting neck and chronic shoulder pain, can happen simultaneously but some people experience one or the other. These pains can be caused by many different things including muscle spasms, injury, trauma, illness and aging. Pain in the neck and shoulder can be serious, brought on by a heart attack (referred pain) or a major injury. For others, this pain is not serious and is caused by sprains or overuse. The neck and shoulders are made up of bones, muscles, nerves, arteries, veins and ligaments. Soft tissue injuries in this area are one of the most common causes of pain. Arthritis, a degenerative condition that causes pain and stiffness, can also lead to neck and shoulder pain.
Chronic Shoulder Pain Possible Causes
Disk degeneration and pinched nerves can also cause neck and shoulder pain, which can flare and recede. Pain can also radiate down the arms. Cervical disk disease is another culprit. This affects the cervical spine, which is the portion of the spine in the neck. This contains seven spinal bones, or vertebrae. In between are inter-vertebral disks. This flexible tissue absorbs shock and allows the neck to move easily. The disease can put stress on nerves in the neck, which can affect the shoulders. Types of cervical disk disease include bone spurs, herniated disks and arthritis of the neck.
Chronic shoulder pain can be characterized by dull or sharp sensations, stiffness, headaches, loss of range of motion, weakness, numbness, swelling, coolness to the touch and changes in the color of skin surrounding the area. People should seek emergency medical attention if they have pain in these areas accompanied by a high fever, severe headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or sweating. Depending on the location of pain and other symptoms, doctors may use diagnostic tools and tests such as X-Rays, electrocardiogram, blood tests, CT scan or an MRI.
For mild cases, patients may need over-the-counter analgesics, elevation, ice and rest. More serious cases of neck and back pain that persist may require more potent painkillers, surgery, physical therapy and/or other forms of rehabilitation.