Shoulder pain is a very common complaint in the acupuncture clinic. These days it has become common for people to jerk their necks from side to side and to wriggle their shoulders up and down frequently throughout the day, trying in vain to release built up pressure and soreness. This bad habit, which can eventually wear down the cervical vertebrae and the tendons and muscles associated with them, stems from a variety of neck problems.

Shoulder Pain - The Neck Connection

Sore necks and herniated neck disks are caused mainly by twisting the neck bone itself. The neck is prone to injury because its frame is relatively small in proportion to the load it supports and its muscles and ligaments are just not incredibly strong by nature.

The neck can easily be twisted during any sudden impact or traffic accident, or if the muscles and ligaments around the neck have extensively weakened due to overwork, poor nutrition or chronically holding the wrong posture.

Sore necks and herniated neck disks are also common among those who sleep with extremely high pillows or work for extended periods of time with their heads down.

More than 90 percent of shoulder pain, however, is caused not by the shoulder itself but by a problem in the neck or organs like the lungs, heart and diaphragm.

As each of the seven vertebrae in the cervical spine corresponds to a set of nerves which serve a specific part of the body, the type of pain caused by a twisted bone or herniated neck disc can vary widely in intensity and location. For example, any degeneration of cervical bones (from the top) number 1 or 2 can cause headaches or migraines as well as misty, watery eyes. If there is a problem with bones number 3 or 4, a sore neck, headaches or shoulder pain will most likely be experienced. If bones number 5 or 6 are not functioning properly, shoulder pain and sometimes arm or thumb soreness will be felt. If vertebra number 7 is not in order, shoulder pain may be felt or the arms, little fingers and palm of the hand may become sore. This is sometimes also accompanied by heart pain.

According to Oriental medicine; treatment involves returning any dislocated bones to their original spots and relieving pressure on pinched blood vessels by loosening stiffened areas, slackening muscles and reinforcing ligaments. This can be achieved through acupuncture, taking Chinese herbal medicine or undergoing sessions of traditional Chinese massotherapy or Tuina. These remedies are not quick, but the results are long lasting.

Of course, as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Following are some tips on how to keep your neck and its disks in good condition:

  • Never turn your head too much to one side
  • Try not to read newspapers or books with your head down for long periods of time
  • Never sleep lying on your belly
  • Use a thin pillow. High pillows wreak havoc on the cervix
  • Do not jerk or turn your neck suddenly


Shoulder Pain – The Neck Connection
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