Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ


I went to see a physical therapist for muscle pain around my shoulder blade. He seems to be doing all the treatment on my neck. I am feeling better but what about the shoulder blade? Why isn't he treating that problem?


Doctors and therapists know that pain can be referred from somewhere else. This could be the result of nerve root irritation in the neck. Such a condition is called cervical radiculopathy.

If tender spots in the neck, shoulder blade (scapula), or arm are referred from the cervical spine, then treatment must address the problem. In this case, the spine should be the focus of treatment and not the tender spots.

Anytime muscles are tender or sore from cervical radiculopathy, other tests can be done to confirm the therapist's suspicions. Ask your therapist to explain his reasons for treating the neck. You'll likely find out the results of these tests.

Rama Letchuman, MD, MS, PT, et al. Are Tender Points Associated with Cervical Radiculopathy? In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. July 2005. Vol. 86. No. 7. Pp. 1333-1337.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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