Neck Pain That Shoots to The Arm Symptom, Causes & Questions

Understand your neck pain that shoots to the arm symptoms, including 6 causes & common questions.

Neck Pain That Shoots To The Arm Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your neck pain that shoots to the arm

Contents

  1. 6 Possible Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics
  4. Related Articles

6 Possible Neck Pain That Shoots To The Arm Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced neck pain that shoots to the arm. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Pinched nerve in the neck

A pinched nerve in the neck is also called cervical radiculopathy. It means that a nerve in the neck, at a point where it branches off from the spinal cord, is being compressed by the surrounding bones, muscles, or other tissues.

It can be caused by a traumatic injury, such as from sports or an automobile accident, especially if the injury results in a herniated disk. It may also arise from the normal wear and tear of aging.

Symptoms include sharp, burning pain with numbness and tingling from the neck to the shoulder, as well as weakness and numbness into the arm and hand.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and simple neurological tests to check the reflexes. Imaging such as x-ray, CT scan, or MRI may be done, as well as electromyography to measure nerve impulses in the muscles.

A pinched nerve in the neck often improves with simply a few days or weeks of rest. Physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroid injections into the spine can all be very helpful.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain that radiates down arm, pain in the back of the neck, severe shoulder pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a set of chronic symptoms that include ongoing fatigue, diffuse tenderness to touch, musculoskeletal pain, and usually some degree of depression.

The cause is not known. When fibromyalgia appears, it is usually after a stressful physical or emotional event such as an automobile accident or a divorce. It may include a genetic component where the person experiences normal sensation as pain.

Almost 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. Anyone with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more prone to fibromyalgia.

Poor sleep is often a symptom, along with foggy thinking, headaches, painful menstrual periods, and increased sensitivity to heat, cold, bright lights, and loud noises.

There is no standard test for fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made when the above symptoms go on for three months or more with no apparent cause.

Fibromyalgia does not go away on its own but does not get worse, either.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache

Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia: arthralgias or myalgias

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Neck sprain

Neck sprain, sometimes called "whiplash," means that the ligaments – the tough, fibrous bands that connect bones together – in the neck have been torn or overstretched.

It is caused by a sudden impact that causes the head to whip back and forth very suddenly, most commonly from an automobile accident or riding a fast amusement park ride. A sports injury may force the neck to overstretch, spraining the ligaments.

Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back; dizziness; ringing in the ears; and sometimes spots of numbness in the hands and arms.

It is important to see a medical provider about these symptoms, to rule out any damage to the spinal cord. Paralysis, difficulty walking, or loss of control over bladder and bowels indicate a medical emergency. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, tests of reflexes, and sometimes x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

Treatment includes rest and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain and reduce inflammation. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: headache, pain in the back of the neck, shoulder pain, difficulty moving the neck, neck pain

Symptoms that always occur with neck sprain: pain in the back of the neck

Symptoms that never occur with neck sprain: fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Neck Pain That Shoots To The Arm Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your neck pain that shoots to the arm

Tension headache (previously undiagnosed)

Tension headache is described as feeling like there is a band around the head that gets tighter and tighter. The headaches may occur in episodes – a few times a week – or chronically, where they almost never entirely go away.

This is a common type of headache but the cause remains unclear. It may be a combination of stress and an overactive sensitivity to pain.

Symptoms include dull, aching pain and tightness in the forehead, sides, and back of the head, and sometimes pain in the neck and shoulder muscles. Unlike migraines, there is usually no nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.

Tension headaches are not dangerous in themselves, but can interfere with work and with quality of life.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and sometimes physical examination. CT scan or MRI may be done to rule out a more serious cause of the headaches.

Over-the-counter and other pain relievers are sometimes prescribed. Lifestyle changes to reduce stress, improve diet, and increase exercise are often helpful, as is massage and biofeedback.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: history of headaches, nausea or vomiting, moderate headache, loss of appetite, mild headache

Symptoms that always occur with tension headache (previously undiagnosed): history of headaches

Symptoms that never occur with tension headache (previously undiagnosed): change in urine color, photo and phonophobia, throbbing headache, headache resulting from a head injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

Brachial plexopathy (shoulder nerve issue)

The brachial plexus is a web of nerves between the neck and shoulder, connecting the spinal cord nerves to the arm. There is one web on each side of the neck. Any injury that forces the shoulder to stretch down, and the neck to stretch up and away, can damage these nerves and cause brachial plexopathy.

Sports injuries and car accidents are often involved. Inflammation, tumors, and radiation treatment can also damage the brachial plexus.

Milder symptoms include numbness and weakness in the arm, with a shocklike stinging or burning sensation. A more severe injury can cause paralysis and loss of feeling in the arm, with pain in some parts of the arm, hand, and shoulder.

These symptoms should be seen by a medical provider since permanent damage can result if the injuries are not treated.

Diagnosis is made through electromyography (EMG) testing, CT scan, MRI, and sometimes angiogram.

Treatment usually involves rest and physical therapy. Surgery may be necessary to remove scar tissue or repair the damaged nerves.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: pain in one arm, shoulder pain that shoots to the arm, arm weakness, numbness in one arm, shoulder pain

Symptoms that never occur with brachial plexopathy (shoulder nerve issue): pain in the front middle part of the neck

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the body's immune system which normally protects the body by att...

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Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Neck Pain That Shoots To The Arm

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Do you have any idea what may have caused your neck pain?
  • Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Can you fully move your neck in every direction?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your neck pain that shoots to the arm. These questions are also covered.

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Neck Pain That Shoots To The Arm Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced neck pain that shoots to the arm have also experienced:

  • 4% Shoulder Pain
  • 4% Pain In One Shoulder
  • 2% Headache

People who have experienced neck pain that shoots to the arm were most often matched with:

  • 37% Pinched Nerve In The Neck
  • 37% Fibromyalgia
  • 25% Neck Sprain

People who have experienced neck pain that shoots to the arm had symptoms persist for:

  • 27% Less than a week
  • 27% Over a month
  • 27% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Neck Pain That Shoots To The Arm Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your neck pain that shoots to the arm