Why does my shoulder hurt while I run?
June 14, 2006 6:22 PM   Subscribe

My left shoulder inexplicably hurts when I run.

I don't know what I did, but I will occasionally have a sharp, stabbing pain in my left shoulder (where it meets the neck) when I jog. Today while I was kicking around the soccer ball I started having the same pain in the same shoulder. I've been pretty active for years and this just started happening within the last 2 months.

It's pretty intense pain while it lasts and it takes a few hours to die down to a slow ache. What is going on?
posted by Burritos Inc. to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Between the end of the head, neck, and shoulders (through the top part of your back) are a set of interconnected and very sensitive set of muscles that control neck rotation, holding your head up, and that when aggravated, can affect the neck, shoulder, and back.

I recently aggravated that area playing squash and practicing my GMAT/LSAT (lots of neck straining). Medicines like Aleve can help as an anti-inflammatory, but my problem turned out to be joint pain. The only thing that helps (according to the doctor I spoke to) is physical therapy, additional protein (to add muscle to the area), and rest. In addition, yoga works as a relaxer and increases flexibillity.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:30 PM on June 14, 2006

There are plenty of ways to experience muscle pain in the left shoulder, but it is also a site of referred pain from the heart (cardiac angina) and, oddly enough, the spleen (Kerr's sign).

How old are you?
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:45 PM on June 14, 2006

When I had this problem a few years ago, I was diagnosed with bursitis. They put me on a prescription anti-inflammatory (Celebrex), but it upset my stomach too much to continue taking it, and I just had to take some time off running and use OTC meds.
posted by anjamu at 6:54 PM on June 14, 2006

I'm 24

The only other thing physically wrong with me is some minor carpal tunnel, but that's only manifested in my right hand and fingers. Never had any problems at all with my left side.
posted by Burritos Inc. at 6:57 PM on June 14, 2006

Yeah, my father-in-law had chronic shoulder pain that turned out to be heart related in the end.

Get it checked out.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:28 PM on June 14, 2006

Huh, I have something simliar, except it's my right shoulder. Whenever I run, I get this pain in the same spot. I've noticed that if I run consistenantly for a while, it goes away. Not as in run for a long time, but as in run multiple days in a row. I've never figured out where it comes from, other than to guess I must tense up or something at first.
posted by KirTakat at 8:48 PM on June 14, 2006

I also had something similar (periodic intense pain lasting for hours - seemingly unrelated to any specific activity though) that turned out to be a bulging disk at the level of C6-C7. It pinched on the nerve that went down my right arm. If this is your problem, treatment ranges from anti-inflammatory drugs to physical therapy to surgery. Get checked, and get a referral to a neurologist if necessary.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:26 PM on June 14, 2006

You've offered just enough information to raise the hair on the back of a reasonable clinician's neck, BI. Based on your description it would be irresponsible to chalk this up to a simple musculoskeletal issue. You need to sit down with a physician and describe in minute detail the various elements of your situation so a more directed work-up can be performed. From what you are saying, it could be something simple or something rare but potentially serious, as ikkyu2 suggested. Vascular malformations, neural compression, etc. Subclavian steal syndrome sometimes can cause extremity pain without neurologic foci, as well as cervical spinal pathology.

There's no way you will get a reasonably accurate diagnosis here, but as you've read, this is not something to ignore.
posted by docpops at 9:39 PM on June 14, 2006

I've just taken up running, and I find that sometimes my back and shoulders get very tense (I'm not sure if I'm just flexing them a lot while I run, or what). In particular, I get pain right in the top of one of my traps (usually the left, sometimes the right). Is your pain RIGHT at the neck joint, or a bit further out?
posted by antifuse at 12:52 AM on June 15, 2006

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