Is it your shoulder or neck causing the pain?

I get this a lot in the office when a patient comes in and points right near the upper trap muscle and says “my shoulder hurts.”


Usually they describe the pain as a sharp, stabbing, burning or tingling type of pain, which in my mind actually screams out a neck problem and not a shoulder problem.


Lets get a little technical here and I will try not to lose you...


There are these areas in the sclerotomes 


If you are a little bit nerdy like me check them out from this webpage:


So here is the issue if you are having pain, especially pain as described above in these areas it is more likely a neck problem than a shoulder problem.


I had to learn this the hard way over the years after missing it on patients early in my career, but that doesn't happen any more.


How do you know if it is a shoulder problem?


Two things...


The pain is more achy, dull and sometimes stabbing with particular movement.




The pain is in the area we showed with the picture.


The take home here is that we can’t always rely solely on where it hurts, but we must also be able to accurately determine what is causing the pain.


This only happens with a doctor who excels in both diagnosing and treating, which in all honesty are rare in this day and age.


So if you are lucky you will have a doctor trained in Integrative Diagnosis near you.


Good luck and take care. 


Dr. Maggio