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Common causes of shoulder pain

Did you know that the shoulder is one of the biggest and most complex joints in the human body? 

While a traumatic event or injury is typically the culprit of sudden shoulder pain, there are many other causes that can lead to tension and mobility issues.

That pain you feel in your shoulder may not actually be caused by a problem in your shoulder. Misaligned spinal bones can cause pain to occur in the arms, hands, and even shoulder.

If a cervical nerve root becomes compressed or irritated in the neck, it can cause pain and symptoms that radiate along the path of the nerve into the shoulder, arm and/or hand. This is medically termed cervical radiculopathy.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Several common neck problems can cause shoulder pain, including:

  • Cervical degenerative disc disease.The intervertebral discs between the vertebrae lose hydration over time. When a disc loses enough hydration it becomes thinner and less able to do its job, potentially producing pain and possibly irritating or pressuring on the nearby nerve root. 
  • Cervical herniated disc.Each intervertebral disc contains a hard outer layer and soft inner layer. If the outer layer gets a tear that allows the inner gel to leak out, that can inflame and/or irritate the nearby nerve root. 
  • Cervical osteoarthritis.When a facet joint in the neck becomes arthritic, the inflammation and excess bone growth can alter the joint’s size and spacing, which could result in a nerve root being irritated or impinged. 
  • Cervical foraminal stenosis.This condition occurs when the nerve root becomes compressed while going through the foramen—a small hole in the bony vertebral construct. The narrowing of the foramen can happen in various ways, such by the overgrowth of bone spurs or by a herniated disc.