There are different causes that can give a clinical picture similar to yours. These include cervical disc problems, shoulder bursitis or shoulder tendinitis as well as muscle spasm or inflammation.
Cervical disc prolapse or herniated disc results in pain in the back of the neck, upper back, shoulder and can extend to the arm. Pain exacerbate after sitting for long time with bending forward or driving. MRI is the test of choice.
Shoulder bursitis is inflammation, and thickening of the tendons and bursa resulting in pain of the shoulder that exacerbate with movement (especially overhead movement). With direct examination, the involved muscles can make the diagnosis easier.
In these cases the pain is mainly due to muscle spasm and muscle rest for some time (24-72 hours) and pain medications are essential. Once the pain improves, other measures like physiotherapy and exercise can be started but it may take some time to reach a satisfying results.
It usually takes up to 4 weeks to get the pain completely relieved and to return back to normal activity. Steroid injections in the inflamed area are usually the next step to be used if these measures fail.
Avoiding positions that may precipitate the pain is essential. Also, try to regularly exercise as advised by your doctor.
When the pain is associated with numbness of the arm, it indicates nerve compression and your doctor should be informed to avoid complications.
Other causes like viral infections and improper positioning can causes muscle spasm that mandates following the same precautions.
In any cases if symptoms persist after these conservative measures, an MRI should be done and other investigations based on clinical examination. Orthopedic consolation is essential.
I would advise you to follow up with your doctor.
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This answer does not substitute for direct medical consultation.
Dr. Safaa Mahmoud.
MB BCh, MSc Internal Medicine. MD Medical Oncology.
PhD Experimental Medicine and Biochemical Science.