Shoulder Pain – Trapped Nerve
Shoulder pain is a common symptom with the neck and the rotator cuff accounting for the causes of much of the pain problems found in this region.
Neck pain can be referred down as upper back pain or out across the shoulder and into the arm, in most cases being achey and a nuisance. In some cases it can be very severe such as a shoulder pain trapped nerve problem which is similar to sciatica in the leg. More information on this subject can be seen at Emedicine's page on Cervical Radiculopathy and Wikipedia's Radiculopathy page.
The nerve roots of the main arm nerves exit from the mid to low neck regions of the cervical spine and can be impinged upon and compressed by a disc protrusion. Neck disc protrusions are not as common as lumbar disc prolapses but can have the same consequences when they occur.
Symptoms of a nerve root compression problem can include severe pain in the neck and shoulder blade region, severe arm pain, pins and needles in the arm, loss of feeling in the arm, loss of arm reflexes and a loss of muscle power. Pain alone may be the most common pattern and this may feel like shoulder muscle pain.
Treatment is usually rest and anti-inflammatory and painkilling medication.
A frozen shoulder may give an equally severe and unpleasant pain but this is associated with severe limitation of shoulder movement and pain confined to the shoulder region with a history of minor or medium shoulder trauma. Frozen shoulder pain relief can be sought from pain management clinics, with manipulation under anaesthetic and operation also used to manage this problem.
Of other types of shoulder pain, cancer can be a potential cause of shoulder and arm pain but this is uncommon and the pain may not behave in the same way as pain of a musculoskeletal origin.
The changes which occur in the joints, discs and ligaments in the neck due to long term postural stresses and injuries may progress to causing pain at some time and this is typically one sided, leading to left shoulder pain or right shoulder pain.