Neurology Expert Forum
shoulder/ upper arm pain
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shoulder/ upper arm pain

I have had pain in my shoulder that shoots into my upper arm and into my elbow for 4 days now.I cant raise my arm above shoulder height without severe pain. (out to the side) - It is also painful when i stretch it out forward and even hurts just sitting and not moving. Wondering if I should see a doc. or wait it out.?
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

Without the ability to examine you and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of your symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Shoulder pain such as the one you describe is more likely to be due to a muscular problem, such as rotator cuff tendinitis or some other muscle/ligament issue. Fractures (such as small hairline stress fractures) can also lead to pain, as can several other non-neurologic causes.

One potential neurologic cause is radiculopathy. The spinal cord is encased by bones called vertebra. Nerves start to form as they come off the spinal cord and exit through holes formed between the vertebra. If a nerve is compressed on as it exits through these holes, particularly in an area called the nerve root, a radiculopathy results. The compression could be due to arthritis of the spine or due to a herniated disc or other lesions. The symptoms include pain at the level of the problem (i.e. neck or back etc) and pain that may radiate down the arm or leg (depending on where the problem is). In more advanced cases, muscle weakness or sensory symptoms such as tingling or numbness may occur. A radiculopathy is often diagnosed based on history, physical examination, and MRI of the spine. Treatment is usually conservative, with anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Only rarely is surgery required.

Evaluation by your primary doctor/family physician is recommended, with further evaluation and treatment as deemed necessary by him/her.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
2 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
thank you - i went to my primary care, and i have a torn rotator cuff and deltoid muscle - i have been placed on anti - inflammatories and pain meds as needed. Thanks!!
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