ZocdocAnswersCould I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder or neck?

Question

Could I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder or neck?

Pain is radiating through both of the muscles above my shoulders and a little bit into my neck as well. Is this from a pinched nerve? How would I know if it is and what can I do about it? I've tried massage therapy and it did not work.

Answer

Do you also have numbness or tingling sensation in the same areas as your shoulder pain? Is it on one side or both of your shoulder? Is this something that has come about acutely or has it slowly evolved over time? Did you have any trauma to the upper back, neck or upper extremities? Were you in a car accident? Also, are you a body builder? Do you lift weight? Or, do you do a lot of repetitive work, such as typing or do work involving your upper extremities? Do these muscles hurt toward the end of the day or do they always hurt? Is there anything that provides relief like rest or stretching? Usually a pinched nerve will also lead to other symptoms other than just pain. Often a patient can get weakness in the affected distribution, decreased sensation, or numbness. It is difficult to tell without a proper neurological exam. Sometimes hypertonic muscles stay in that state and require a very long and dedicated exercise regimen that emphasizes proper stretching. Have you had any imaging, such as x-ray, CT scan or MRI of the upper back and neck? There are many questions that I am not able to seek direct answers from you to make proper diagnosis. That said, it sounds like you may have chronic hypertonic muscles, but sometimes it is good idea to rule out a bulging disc in your neck. You should follow up with a primary care physician who can properly examine you and take comprehensive medical history. Perhaps a muscle relaxer may be of benefit. You should also follow up with an orthopedic surgeon if your symptoms continue to persist after physical therapy.

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