The Southeastern Spine Institute

Your body is like an intricate jigsaw puzzle: if one piece is damaged, the whole suffers. Your body is made up of physical parts that all fit together and work together seamlessly. You can breathe not just because you have lungs. You can walk not just because you have legs. By the same token, when you have pain in one part of your body, it often causes or contributes to pain in other areas.

It’s nearly impossible to move your shoulders without involving your back in some way. Your shoulders and spine work together to allow you to perform a variety of basic functions. You probably take for granted these actions – from lifting a box off the floor to raising a fork to your mouth – until the very act starts causing you pain. A sore shoulder can lead to localized back pain or referred pain far from your shoulders.

Not at All Uncommon

Shoulder pain is alarmingly common. While some people only experience pain in their shoulders or pain in their backs, you may be living with both. Some of the more common causes of a sore shoulder include:

  • Strain from overuse
  • Tendonitis
  • Joint instability
  • Trauma
  • Dislocation
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Pinched nerves

When your shoulder hurts, it impacts how you move or even carry yourself. Then your body attempts to compensate for the pain and injury in ways that you might not even notice. Changing your posture slightly, favoring the opposite arm or immobilizing the sore shoulder often has the potential to add extra stress to your back, leading to even more shoulder discomfort and added pain.

It May Come as a Surprise

It’s quite common for changes in the way you move your shoulder and lift objects to contribute to stiffness in your upper back, tension in your neck and pain in your shoulders. But you may be surprised to learn that a sore shoulder can also cause pain in your lower back.

Movement is a fight against gravity. Shoulder pain can cause asymmetry in your body – so you tend to favor one side or work one side of your body harder to compensate. No part of your body feels this difference more than your spine, which not only connects your upper and lower body, but also carries your central nervous system.

Lifestyle Contributions to Pain

Sore shoulders and back pain can be caused or made worse by things you do in your everyday life, such as:

Lifting heavy objects improperly
Slouching into poor posture
Not sitting up in your chair
Being overweight or obese
Not getting enough exercise

Emotional factors also play into your pain and physical condition. Stress is collected in your shoulders and can lead to tension and tightness throughout your neck and back. Being depressed or anxious can make the pain feel even worse.

Seek Professional Help

The biggest step you can take toward pain relief is getting to the source of your pain. A qualified spine physician like those at the Southeastern Spine Institute can spot signs of trouble simply by watching you move. But an x-ray, MRI or another imaging test may be necessary to provide a definitive diagnosis so you can begin the right kind of treatment.

Be aware of your posture. Recognize signs of slight pain that you can address right away, before it gets worse. The severity of your condition and the ways it affects other parts of your body play a major role in your treatment options.