Is It Shoulder or Neck Pain?

July 06, 2021


Is that pain stemming from your shoulder or neck?

It can be confusing for both patients and physicians. Shoulder problems, like rotator cuff tears and arthritis, can mimic neck issues and vice versa.

According to board certified orthopedic spine surgeon Justin J. Park, M.D., of The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy, with neck issues, patients will often have a herniated disc causing numbness that will go all the way down the arm and into the fingers.

"With shoulder pain by itself, it's usually just limited to within the shoulder joint itself. It hurts a lot more when people are raising their arm above their head. Whereas with a herniated disc, some people actually feel better raising their arm above their head," Dr. Park said.

Dr. Park recommends a period of rest for a few days and taking anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen. If it still doesn't get better, see an orthopedic doctor who specializes in neck or shoulder problems.

To view Dr. Justin Park’s interview regarding treatment for shoulder and neck pain, click here.

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in Downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed, acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a high-performing Maryland hospital (U.S. News & World Report); has achieved an overall 5-Star quality, safety, and patient experience rating (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); is A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade); and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet™ hospital. Mercy Health Services is a not-for-profit health system and the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Personal Physicians.

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