Pain across the shoulder blades or weakness in the upper arms could be symptoms of C5 radiculopathy, a condition caused by the malfunction of a nerve in the neck that affects the shoulders and arms. Symptoms include pain of the shoulders and upper arms, and weakness in those areas, especially when you attempt movement. The pain may worsen over the course of a day and is sometimes described as sharp.


The C5 nerve can malfunction when inflamed, or when it is compressed or “pinched.” Both conditions result from a variety of causes, such as the sudden trauma ofan athletic injury or from heavy lifting and other stressful or repetitive activities. Often, degeneration of the spine due to aging or disease is a factor. All of these may result in a narrowing of the space around spinal nerves or a deterioration of the discs that provide cushioning of spinal bones, leading to pressure and pinching of the nerves.


With a physical examination, an x-ray or an MRI (magnetic resonance image), we can determine whether C5 radiculopathy is causing your shoulder pain and design a treatment plan to ease pain and restore function. Treatment usually involves

• rest

• pain medication

• anti-inflammatory drugs

• prescribed muscle relaxants

• controlled sleeping positions

  • physical therapy


Wearing a neck collar to rest neck muscles not more than 2-3 days or using at-home traction to relieve compressed areas may be recommended. We may also prescribe massage, gentle manipulation and an exercise program to stretch and strengthen neck muscles.

To assist in your recovery and help maintain long-term spinal health, we will work with you to establish healthy daily habits, such as improving your posture. Most patients will see a usually go on to be symptom free after six to 12 weeks of treatment.