Arthritis chest and shoulder pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Pain in the shoulder and neck is common.

Fortunately, this type of pain rarely indicates a serious condition. Causes of shoulder and neck pain include:

•Poor posture or unnatural sleeping positions. Sleeping with a non-supportive pillow or mattress can give you a stiff neck.
•Tension and stress. This is probably the leading cause of neck pain. When you feel tense, the muscles around your neck can go into spasms.
•Tendinitis, inflammation or degeneration of a tendon, the cords that connect muscles to bone. If untreated, tendinitis or tendinosis (tendon degeneration, which is actually more common in people past the age of 30) can turn into "frozen shoulder," a stiff, painful condition that limits the ability to use your shoulder.
•Bursitis, an inflammation of the sac (bursa) that cushions the shoulder joint. Bursitis can be caused by injury, infection, overuse, arthritis, or gout.
•Osteoarthritis. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis develops from normal wear-and-tear of the joints. Aging can cause the cartilage in the joints of the neck to wear out, producing bony spurs that can irritate nerves and cause pain.
•Accidents and falls. The clavicle (collarbone) can break due to trauma.
•Motor vehicle accidents. A whiplash injury occurs when your vehicle is hit from behind.
•Pinched nerve. Arthritis or an injury to your neck can pinch a nerve in the neck. Pain from a pinched nerve usually runs down the arm and is accompanied by numbness and tingling.

One other common condition that is often not diagnosed properly is fibromyalgia. This is a disease due to defective neurotransmitters in the brain which can lead to abnormal perception of painful stimuli.

Sometimes shoulder and neck pain can signal serious medical problems, especially when accompanied by other symptoms such as sudden and severe headache, dizziness, chest pain or pressure, and/or loss of consciousness. Here, the list is a bit different…

•Myocardial infarction – heart attack. Associated with nausea, sweating, flushing, and shortness of breath.
•Angina pectoris – Chest pain due to insufficient blood flow to the heart. Associated with activity and relieved with rest; family history; obesity; increased heart rate; and increased blood pressure.
•Cholecystitis – gallbladder inflammation may cause chest wall pain.
•Other abdominal conditions that can cause chest wall pain are: peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, esophageal spasm, a tear or ulcer in the esophagus, and pancreatitis.
•Gastroesophageal reflux (hiatal hernia) - associated with eating; can be triggered by exertion.
•Musculoskeletal strain or spasms -
•Pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the lung.
•Pericarditis – inflammation of the sack that surrounds the heart typically causes chest wall pain that may be confused for arthritis.
• Myocarditis, inflammation of the heart wall; can also cause chest pain that may be mistaken for chest wall pain.
•Psychogenic - unexplained chest pain and hyperventilation; inability to recall past episodes.
•Pleurisy- inflammation of the lining of the lung- may cause chest wall pain. Other lung problems that may be associated with chest pain and be confused with arthritis are bronchitis, oneumonia, lung cancer, or pneumothorax (punctured lung).
•Aortic dissection – The aorta- the main artery leading away from the heart- ruptures. The pain is “tearing” in nature and radiates to the back.
•Viruses such as herpes zoster (shingles)may also cause chest wall pain.

If the chest wall is tender to the touch, or if the pain occurs with movement of the shoulder, arm, etc, then a musculoskeletal cause is likely. The junction of the sternum and rib can become tender and inflamed. This is called costochondritis.

Arthritic conditions affecting the cervical spine (neck) may caused referred pain to the shoulders. In particular, disc bulging and disc degeneration are often associated with this kind of referred pain. If the chest discomfort is related to eating, then gall bladder disease is suggested. If an empty stomach causes symptoms, then reflux or ulcer disease can be the culprit.

Stretching and strengthening routines, especially before exercising, help prevent injuries to the shoulder and chest. So can using the right equipment and following the proper technique.

Avoid injuries to the shoulder by wearing seat belts in cars and trucks and using protective gear during sporting events.

Avoid vigorous exercise unless you are fit. If you are out of condition, start to strengthen your muscles gradually and slowly increase exercise intensity.

Sleep on a firm mattress. Use a thin pillow or neck support pillow if you have neck pain when you wake up.

Keep the muscles in your shoulders strong and flexible to prevent injury.

Get more information about arthritis chest and shoulder pain as well as...

• Insider arthritis tips that help you erase the pain and fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis almost overnight!

• Devastating ammunition against low back pain... discover 9 secrets!

• Ignored remedies that eliminate fibromyalgia symptoms quickly!

• Obsolete treatments for knee osteoarthritis that still are used... and may still work for you!

• The stiff penalties you face if you ignore this type of hip pain...

• 7 easy-to-implement neck pain remedies that work like a charm!

• And much more...

Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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