What could it mean if I have pain in my collarbone and neck?

Pain in your collarbone and neck can be a common issue. It can affect people of all ages and activity levels. While it may be unsettling, it’s important to remember that collarbone and neck pain can come around due to nonserious causes and respond well to treatment. One beneficial treatment that can help you manage your pain is physical therapy.

Causes of pain in your neck and collarbone 

Several factors can contribute to neck and collarbone pain, including the following:

  • Muscle strain — Muscle strain can be a common culprit behind collarbone and neck pain, often due to overuse. Approximately 1 in 3 people will experience neck pain at least once a year. Some of those will also experience pain in the collarbone area. 
  • Joint injuries — Injuries to the joints connecting the collarbone to the breastbone or shoulder blade can cause pain and tenderness. These injuries, including collarbone fractures, can happen because of falls, direct blows or overuse. 
  • OsteoarthritisOsteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect any joint. This includes the neck and collarbone. It’s more common in older adults and can cause pain, stiffness and a reduced range of motion.
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome — This rare condition happens when the nerves or blood vessels in the space between the collarbone and first rib become compressed due to the collarbone moving from its normal position. It can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the neck, shoulder and arm.

Causes of pain in your neck, collarbone and right shoulder

Pain can affect both sides of the body equally. However, sometimes it can present more prominently on one side. If you are experiencing concentrated pain in your right collarbone, neck and shoulder, it could be due to:

  • Specific pain — A fall or direct blow to the right side of your body can cause localized pain in these areas. Repetitive stress from activities that primarily use your right arm can also be a culprit. Acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation is responsible for approximately 40% of shoulder injuries. The AC joint is between the collarbone and shoulder blade.
  • Sleeping position — Sleeping on your side, especially if you always sleep on the same side, puts strain on your collarbone and shoulder. It can cause tears in your rotator cuff, tendinitis, or a pinched nerve.
  • Cervical radiculopathy — This condition involves a pinched nerve in the neck. A pinched nerve in your neck can cause pain to radiate down into your shoulder and arm. This radiating pain is often on one side

It’s crucial to consult with your health care professional to determine the cause of your pain; this can help ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment. If your pain is severe, sudden, or accompanied by other symptoms like fever, weakness or numbness spreading down your arm, you need to seek immediate medical attention. 

Treatments for pain in your neck, collarbone and right shoulder

The good news is that most cases of collarbone, neck and shoulder pain can respond well to conservative treatment approaches like:

  • Rest.
  • Heat and cold therapy.
  • Pain reliever medication.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Proper posture.
  • Ergonomics.

Physical therapy for pain in your neck, collarbone and right shoulder

Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment option for collarbone, neck and shoulder pain. A licensed physical therapist can conduct a thorough evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan using a variety of techniques intended to help your recovery. One beneficial approach they may use is manual therapy. This technique is an umbrella term that describes a group of hands-on treatments. A physical therapist with a Certification in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (COMT) can use a specialized skill set to use advanced hands-on techniques to help improve your joint mobility, muscle relaxation and pain management. Common types of manual therapy used may include:

  • Soft tissue manipulation — Your physical therapist will use gentle manipulation and stretching techniques applied to the soft tissue of the affected area. These are the muscles, tendons and fascia, or connective tissue. Manipulation and stretching techniques of the soft tissue can help improve your flexibility and reduce muscle tension.
  • Joint mobilization — Your physical therapist will use gentle, controlled movements on your neck, shoulder and collarbone joints to help improve their range of motion. They can use repetitive movements of the joint’s natural range of motion to help loosen up stiffness in the joint.
  • Trigger point therapy and myofascial release — Trigger points are hypersensitive knots in your muscles. Your physical therapist may use a variety of methods to target these trigger points, like myofascial release. Myofascial release is the application of sustained pressure to these trigger points. The sustained pressure can help promote muscle relaxation to release tension and reduce pain. 
  • Therapeutic stretching — Therapeutic stretching is a type of assisted stretching. Your physical therapist will guide you through stretches to help deepen a stretch to help target particularly stiff muscles. It can help improve your flexibility and improve your overall movement patterns. 

Physical therapy can be as effective as medication to help you manage your pain and improve your neck function. It can be a safe, long-term solution to help prevent future occurrences. 

Lattimore PT can help you overcome the pain in your collarbone, neck and shoulder

At Lattimore Physical Therapy, we understand how frustrating it can be to deal with pain in your collarbone, neck and shoulder. Our team of experienced and licensed physical therapists is dedicated to helping you find relief. We have 30 fully certified COMTs on staff — nearly one in every clinic — who can help improve joint mobility, promote muscle relaxation and manage pain. We use a variety of techniques to create a personalized treatment plan designed around your unique situation and goals. We strive to provide you with compassionate and effective care to empower you to improve your overall well-being.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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