NECK SHOULDER  REFERRED PAIN

Your shoulder, arm and even hand pain could be caused by a problem with your neck.

Experiencing pain in the shoulder? It may not necessarily be originating from an injury to the shoulder itself? It can be common for neck and shoulder pain to overlap, and the way in which the body reports pain and sometimes be blurred when it involves these two areas. The neck and shoulder are intimately linked by multiple muscle and nerve pathways. Occasionally when a structure is damaged in these areas the brains unable to determine the original source of damage and pain may present in one, where the other has been the site of damage.

Additionally, when there is an injury with the neck and/or shoulder, we can compensate through other surrounding structures. This further adds to distorting the experience and identification of pain across these areas.
 

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

Because pain in one area can often be confused with another, a thorough examination assessing range of motion, strength and provocation tests of the neck and shoulder must be undertaken by a physiotherapist. The information provided by these tests will allow for a clearer insight into which area the original site of injury occurred. For example if pain is present in the shoulder, but range of motion, strength and provocation tests of the shoulder prove normal, it is likely the cause is originating from the neck and subsequent testing of the neck should prove positive.

 

 

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF NECK-SHOULDER PAIN

- History of neck pain, stiffness or soreness
- Pins and needles, numbness, weakness down the shoulder and possibly into the arm
- Burning, sharp or dull radiating pain down the arm

COMMON CAUSES OF REFERRED NECK PAIN

- Joint dysfunctions
- Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve)
- Neural tension imbalances
- Muscle imbalances of weakness and activity
- Muscle tightness and tension 
- Thoracic outlet syndrome

Cervical radiculopathy known as a pinched nerve can affect any segment of the neck. Each segment in the neck has its own referred pattern that it distributes pain when its area is compromised.

 

Neural tension refers to the amount of strain on a nerve at rest and with movement. An excess increase in neural tension can occur when the nerve becomes trapped or restricted anywhere along its path. This often occurs as a result of muscular tightness, joint stiffness and decreased mobility of the neck, joint inflammation.

Neural tension can be altered by changing the position of your neck and arm. Certain movements and positions will target different nerves. A physiotherapist is needed to assess these nerves and determine if they play a role in your condition and outline a treatment plan.

Muscles can also have a referred pattern of pain when they are strained or tight and/or spasming.

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NECK SHOULDER PAIN PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENT

Neck/Shoulder pain can effectively be conservatively managed by your physiotherapist. They will assess your lifestyle, posture, neck structures and identify the main causes of condition. They will then implement the most effective treatment methods for you.

The main aims of treating Neck/Shoulder pain should be to:
- Reduce aggravating factors such as improving posture, adjusting activities and sleeping patterns.
- Decrease pain, and improve range of motion of the neck.
- Promote healing of damage structures.
- Improve muscular strength, control and postural awareness.
- Prevent the injury recurring.

TYPES OF PHYSIO TREATMENT

- Soft tissue massage
- Posture control and correction exercises
- Neck stabilisation exercises
- Taping techniques for support and control
- Ergonomic education
- Acupuncture and dry needling
- Hot and cold therapies
- Neck strengthening and support exercises
- Neck stretches
- Neurodynamic tension imbalance correctional exercises
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen

 

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP YOUR NECK-SHOULDER PAIN

Traditional Neck/Arm pain is generally resolved when the root cause is determined and effectively treated. In most cases there is usually a dysfunction occurring and recovery is typically longer when compared to other conditions of the neck/shoulder. A physiotherapist will be able to determine the original site of injury and establish an effective treatment plan to resolve all issues experienced in the neck/shoulder. 

​Medical intervention such as cortisone injections (known as epidural steroid injections) into the spine can provide longer-term relief and allow you to undergo your rehabilitation process in more comfort but is not the be all.

Ultimately physiotherapists can provide YOU with long standing relief, the knowledge to prevent this recurring and the skills to manage/treat your condition.

Exercise rehabilitation is proven to be a very effective way in treating the neck-shoulder pain. Our 4 week online program will outline in detail your road to recovery! It involves day-day routines of stretches, mobilisation exercises, and postural control and correction based exercises, strength and stabilisation exercises, which are best designed to resolve your neck-shoulder pain!

If you are looking to alleviate your pain and cure your text neck for good then please enquire into visiting one of our clinics or sign up for one of our online services for expert help and treatment.