Sometimes shoulder problems such as frozen shoulder or shoulder arthritis can lead to neck pain and headaches. Poor postures, such as rounded shoulders and forward head posture can exacerbate shoulder pain, causing an increase in neck pain and headaches. In this blog lets discuss two common reasons how shoulder pain can get referred to the neck or cervical spine.
Any part of our body does not work in isolation to the rest of the body. This interdependence is also seen between the shoulder and the cervical spine. The shoulder joint works in close synchrony with the shoulder blade (scapula), thoracic spine and the cervical spine. This is known as scapulohumeral rhythm. Any change in one will affect the rest of the structures. So if the shoulder joint is not moving well due to say a frozen shoulder the body will compensate by overusing the cervical muscles, thereby leading to neck pain and headaches.
Also, there are quite a few muscles that run between the shoulder joint and neck area. Muscular tension in and around the shoulder will thereby translate to the cervical spine.
Symptoms in the cervical spine (pain or headache or both) will depend on which part of the cervical spine is being affected. When the upper to mid cervical spine (from your hairline down to the middle of neck) is affected this is seen as neck pain and cervicogenic headache, as the nerves that exit this part of the neck supply the back and sides of the head. Any irritation or compression of these nerves will manifest as headache or heaviness in the head or dizziness along with neck pain.
When the mid to lower cervical spine (from middle of neck to junction of neck & shoulders) is affected this is seen as neck pain and pain or heaviness in the shoulder or pain between the shoulder blades or tingling numbness or nerve pain in the arms, forearms upto the fingers as these areas are supplied by the nerves exiting the mid to lower cervical spine.
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