Chest, Shoulder & Neck Pain

Numerous conditions can cause chest, shoulder and neck pain 1. According to MedlinePlus, chest pain is a pain or discomfort that may be felt anywhere along the anterior chest wall or the area between the neck and the abdomen on the front of the torso 1. In some people, chest pain may be accompanied by pain in other parts of the body, such as the neck and shoulder 1. Chest, shoulder and neck pain can be related to the same condition, or pain in these areas can be caused by separate problems 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Anatomy

The chest, neck and shoulder are three distinct parts of the upper body. The chest protects the heart and lungs and helps draw the arm toward the body. The neck protects the spinal cord and allows the head and neck to move in different directions. The shoulder enables the arm to move in many different directions.

Causes

Simultaneous chest, shoulder and neck pain may be caused by several conditions 1. ')3. Both conditions involve a lack of blood flow to the myocardial or heart muscle cells. Without sufficient blood and the oxygen and nutrients it carries, heart muscle tissue may begin to die. The National Fibromyalgia Association, or NFA, states that fibromyalgia -- a chronic or long-standing pain disorder -- may also cause pain in the chest, shoulder and neck 1.

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with chest, shoulder and neck pain largely depend on the cause and severity of the pain 1. Pain in these areas that is unrelated to a heart attack may be dull, aching, burning, sharp or stabbing 3.

Risk Factors

Participating in certain sports activities, especially contact sports and wrestling, may lead to muscle strains or ligament sprains in the chest, shoulder or neck areas.

Treatment

Treatment for chest, shoulder and neck pain largely depends on the cause of the pain 1. If pain in these areas is heart-related, a person should go to the emergency room as quickly as possible. Certain medications, such as analgesics and blood-thinners, may help reduce pain in these areas and prolong a person's life. If the cause of chest, shoulder and neck pain is of musculoskeletal origin -- caused by muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones or connective tissue -- a person may benefit from conservative care methods, such as:

  • chiropractic
  • acupuncture
  • massage therapy 1
×