Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I have pain on the tops of my shoulders?"
Each side of my shoulders are sore. It starts where my neck is and goes along both of the muscles. What is making my shoulders hurt?
Pain in the distribution you are describing is most likely due to a musculoskeletal problem. Neck and shoulder pain are very commonly encountered problems in the primary care setting, and are most often due to a muscle strain. These symptoms usually occur after a person has begun a new exercise or weight-lifting regimen, or struggled to lift something heavy in the preceding days. Supporting this diagnosis would be tenderness in these areas when you press on them or if the pain is worse with certain movements of the shoulders or neck. The muscles involved are likely the trapezius and deltoids. Fortunately, musculoskeletal pain is a benign condition and is often completely alleviated in a few weeks with conservative treatment. This involves avoidance of strenuous activities, ice/heat application, stretching the affected muscles, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen. If you have any concerns about your neck/shoulder pain or do not notice significant improvement in your symptoms within 1-2 weeks, then you should visit your primary care doctor for further assessment. With a thorough history and physical exam, your doctor can help you come up with an accurate diagnosis and efficient treatment plan.
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