Is Your Shoulder Pain Truly From A Shoulder Injury?

Is Your Shoulder Pain Truly From A Shoulder Injury?

By Biagio Mazza

Today we're going to talk about referred pain and how you know if you have referred pain. The shoulder is a really interesting structure in the body. As nerves come out of the neck, they kind of cluster into the shoulder before they spread out into the rest of the arm. And it's just to get all the nerves down that provide sensation, provide muscle strength and power to arm musculature itself.

But the problem is, is if I have an injury in the shoulder, that pain doesn't always get interpreted right underneath where you feel it. So you can have a problem that's actually underneath here, and feel it all the way down your arm here. You can have a problem in your neck, not feel in your neck at all and feel it down here.

So, referred pain is the phenomenon that occurs when the interpretation of where you feel it, is actually different than directly underlying. I have patients come in all the time and they'll say, "I swear to you my problem is right here." It doesn't have anything to do with that area of their body, it's just being sent there.

That doesn't mean you're crazy. It's normal, that's a normal thing that happens because of the irritation of the nerves in those positions there. That's something though that can be addressed with physical therapy, just like pain that really is coming from underneath where you feel it.

So you have to be seeing a good clinician to make sure they can tease out whether it's true pain from underneath where you're pointing, or if it's referred symptoms.