Is my pain coming from the Neck or Shoulder?

Updated: Jun 27

The neck and shoulder have a close relationship, so naturally, the feeling of shoulder pain or loss of movement could actually be coming from the neck. To determine if the pain is coming from the neck or shoulder we must take look at two things:

  1. Pain Location

  2. Pain Behavior

Pain Location

At our clinic in Wyckoff, NJ, it is not uncommon that we have two separate patients come in with the same complaints of shoulder pain... Once completed, examination reveals that while symptoms are the same, one is diagnosed with a neck problem and the other is diagnosed with a shoulder problem! I know how confusing it can be for anyone to figure out on their own. So let me give you some advice...


Shoulder pain is usually felt on the outer part of the shoulder and above the elbow. However, in more severe cases, the pain may cross the elbow and move down to the wrist.

Shoulder Pain

Keep in mind that if there is pain in the shoulder blade area, it’s unlikely that it is coming from the shoulder. Also, a true shoulder problem WILL NOT feel like pins and needles or give any numbness in your hand.


Now when it comes to injury originating in the neck, pain may be felt at the base of the neck or moving into the shoulder blade. Pain may also be felt between the neck and shoulder (the upper trap region), which can be quite severe pain. Pain of neck origin may also spread into the upper arm, including the shoulder itself, and even below the elbow to the wrist. Neck pain symptoms MAY include pins and needles or numbness.

Neck Pain

Pain Behavior

At our Wyckoff, NJ clinic, the patients who are experiencing true shoulder pain (which is caused by shoulder injury) usually aggravate it by lifting the arm overhead or putting their hand behind their back.


On the other hand shoulder pain that originates from neck injury is often changed by movements of the head or neck. Also, if you find yourself experiencing shoulder pain while in one posture for a while such as prolonged sitting, using a phone or computer, or laying in bed on your back watching TV, it is more than likely coming from the neck.


I hope that helped give you some clarity on how to figure out if your 'shoulder pain' is really shoulder pain, OR if it's coming from the neck.


Thank you for reading and feel free to take a look around our website, there is plenty of information, free guides, and ways to reach out to us about neck and shoulder pain.


👉🏽👉🏽If you are experiencing any pain mentioned in this article and want answers NOW, I recommend a Free 30-Min Discovery Session. Our shoulder AND neck pain specialist will listen to your concerns and give you an opportunity to ask any questions you have.

Our specialist will then give you all the information you need to make the BEST decision for YOUR health. It is a no-obligation, no forms to sign, no credit card required, totally free consultation. This can be done Virtually or In Our Wyckoff, New Jersey Clinic...



👉🏽Or, Get our FREE Guide with Tips for Quick Shoulder Pain Relief:

Click to Get Your Free Guide


If you have further questions regarding this blog post or other tips that can help you to relieve Shoulder Pain, Contact Us at Skyline Physical Therapy located in Wyckoff, NJ. or Call (201) 485-6114


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