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My Shoulder Hurts Because of What?...My Jaw and My Neck!

I have been getting clients with shoulder pains on both sides, sometimes one side hurts more than the other.  Oftentimes, it is difficult for them to lift even a gallon of milk or worse, just lifting their arm alone hurts a lot. They lose quality sleep every night as the discomfort awakens them when lying on their side. Imagine having to move differently, become more guarded, slowed down or caught off guard as you feel a twinge or sharp pain deep inside the shoulder or arm when you try to reach for something. 

These people are commonly diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, calcific tendinits, osteoarthritis, myalgia, impingement syndromes or frozen shoulders. Yes, they can be all of that but not all of your shoulder pains are just that.  It can be more complex and you should know when that cortisone shot failed to relieve your pain or your shoulder pain is recurring or you did not do well with orthopedic physical therapy and end up getting more shoulder pains as you tried to strengthen those poor achy shoulders. 

Research has linked the irritation of the cranial spinal accessory nerve that malpositions the scapula if this nerve is pinched at the jugular foramen where it passes through.  Jugular foramen integrity is affected by your temporal bone, a skull bone which is part of your jaw joint.  Chronic clenching that leads to misalignment of your bite affects the jaw joint and narrows the jugular foramen which houses your spinal accessory nerve. 

Bottomline, shoulder pain may not always be a shoulder problem.  The interconnectedness of the human body requires us to look beyond what is obvious.  If you are having trouble with your shoulders and you want to avoid radical procedures or surgery and you also don’t want to live in a state of chronic pain, Seville PT understands your unique situation.

Our practice model allows the clinician to investigate what hurts you but most of all, get to the ROOT CAUSE as to WHY it hurts you. 

Katsuura Y, Bruce J, Taylor S, Gullota L, Kim HJ. Overlapping, Masquerading, and Causative Cervical Spine and Shoulder Pathology: A Systematic Review. Global Spine J. 2020 Apr;10(2):195-208. doi: 10.1177/2192568218822536. Epub 2019 Feb 17. PMID: 32206519; PMCID: PMC7076593.

Eller G, Kellermann I, Kellermann M, Maul K, Röchert BH, Arias A, et al. Craniomandibular Shoulder Pain-An Underestimated Cause of Refractory Progressive Pain. J Orth Clin Res. 2023;1(2):60-68. DOI: https://doi.org/10.37191/Mapsci-JOCR-1(2)-008