Shoulder and Neck Pain Health (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

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 milder cases, basic home-care measures (see below) are adequate until your doctor can see you.
  • In many cases, simple injuries, such as strains and bruises, heal themselves and do not require an office visit.
  • 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, or if you develop the sudden onset of numbness or weakness, particularly on one side of the body, call 911 for emergency services to go to the nearest emergency department by ambulance.

Shoulder and Neck Pain Diagnosis

A thorough history and physical examination are usually adequate to establish the diagnosis for most injuries. However, your doctor may do a series of tests, depending on the cause of your injury, the location of your pain, or your other symptoms. The list is extensive and may include X-rays, an electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests, and CT scans.

  • X-rays: These may be done if you have tenderness to touch along the bony areas of your spine or shoulder, a history of significant trauma, deformity of the area, or your doctor suspects a condition related to your heart or lungs.
  • ECG: An electrocardiogram may be ordered if you also have chest pain, shortness of breath, and risk factors for a heart attack (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or tobacco use).
  • Blood tests: These may be performed if you also have chest pain, shortness of breath, and risk factors for a heart attack (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or tobacco use) or if your doctor suspects an underlying illness as the cause of the pain.
  • CT scan: This may be performed when X-rays are difficult to read or suggest a fracture, when more detail is needed, or when other structures are suspected to be the source of the pain (possibly the large artery known as the aorta leading from the heart or the lungs).
  • MRI: An MRI is often not indicated during an initial evaluation but can be helpful in assessing ongoing pain and failure to respond to basic treatment measures.

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Shoulder and Neck Pain - Causes and Outcome Question: What caused your shoulder and neck pain? What was the outcome?
Shoulder and Neck Pain - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your shoulder and neck pain?
Shoulder and Neck Pain - Treatment Question: What was the treatment for your shoulder and neck pain?

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!