Neck pain generally includes shoulder pain but can also include back pain as well. Your neck and shoulders contain muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, and veins, as well as many ligaments and other supporting structures. There are many potential causes for neck and shoulder pain ranging from a simple sore muscles from over exertion to heart attack. Due to the wide range and potentially life threatening causes of neck and shoulder pain it is critical to quickly ascertain the source of your pain.
Shoulder and Neck Pain Symptoms
It is critical when dealing with any injury that you do not hesitate to consult with a physician as soon as possible. Due to the potential sever outcome of neck and shoulder pain time is critical.
It is important to be clear when describing your neck pain symptoms, because it will help your doctor determine the cause. The most common way to describe pain is sharp, however pain can also be described as dull, burning, crampy, shock like, or stabbing. If your neck pain is causing you to have reduced neck and shoulder motion or causing headaches, make sure to tell your doctor.
Weakness: Weakness can be due to severe pain from muscle or bone movement. The nerves that supply the muscles, however, also could be injured. It is important to distinguish true weakness (muscle or nerve damage) from inability or reluctance to move because of pain or inflammation.
Numbness: Can be caused by pinched nerves or bruising and may cause you to not feel things normally. Numbness may also be interpreted as a burning sensation or similar to having your foot fall asleep.
Coolness: If you notice your limbs seem cold, it may be an indication that the arteries, veins, or both have been injured or blocked.
Color changes: of any kind, blue, white, redness, rashes or bruising.
Swelling: Can be localized to one area of involve a larger area or even the entire limb.
Deformity: Some ligament tears can cause misalignment of your body. Note any physical changes to the doctor.
When to Seek Medical Care
If pain or other symptoms start to worsen, call your doctor or immediately go to a hospital emergency department.
For persisting pain in the shoulder or neck, an evaluation by a health-care professional is appropriate.
If you have severe or worsening pain, weakness, numbness, coolness, deformity, or color changes, you should go to a hospital emergency department immediately.
If you develop a high fever (temperature >102.5 F), severe headache, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or sweatiness, call 911 for emergency services to go to the nearest emergency department by ambulance.