Can fibromyalgia result in intense pain between the neck and shoulder?

Q. I have intense pain between my neck and shoulder for a year. Is fibromyalgia the cause?

Answered by
Dr. Pratap. V. G. M
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 02, 2020 and last reviewed on: Jun 09, 2021

Hi doctor,

I am a 21-year-old female. I have very intense pain right between my neck and shoulder for a year now. It feels like a pulling sensation. It hurts to sit without a back on a chair. Lifting the laundry basket hurts, and so does sitting down to do any activity (folding clothes, driving). I have had an MRI done, and it came back clean. The doctor also took blood, and all came back fine. I have done physical therapy and steroid packs. The steroid packs did wonders but always wore off quickly. My shoulder or neck is the only thing that is bothering me. I am starting to feel unlike myself and not wanting to do the things I used to love because I know that soon after, I will be hurting. I take Ibuprofen up to four times a day due to the overwhelming pain. I have not received a diagnosis. My doctor thought maybe something was wrong with my rotator cuff but then thought rheumatoid arthritis, but when everything came back clean, he suggested fibromyalgia. My neck and shoulder is the only thing that bothers me, other than that I am perfectly fine. I am looking for a second opinion. Kindly give your opinion.



Welcome to

As it appears from the query, you suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain which aggravates physical activity. You are taking analgesics to the maximum dosages, but still, the pain is not relieved. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is normal. These are the sticking points that I got from your history.

The common causes for neck and shoulder pain are:

1) Degenerative disc disease.

2) Spinal canal narrowing.

3) Cervical spondylosis.

4) Cervical spinal canal stenosis.

5) Pressure on cervical spinal nerves.

6) Thyroid-related problems.

7) Calcium deficiency.

Most of the spine-related conditions should reveal in an MRI scan. But as per the history, the MRI scan is normal. So the possibility might be related to thyroid or calcium deficiency.

I suggest you do the following investigations:

1) Complete thyroid profile, including assessing parathyroid hormonal levels.

2) Serum calcium levels.

3) Muscle spasms.

4) Overweight.

Please evaluate for the above cause once.

Since you have the aggravation of symptoms because of physical activity, let me advise some points regarding how to relieve it:

1) Avoid lifting heavyweight and strenuous activity.

2) Physical therapy is advised two to three times a week for twenty minutes.

3) Interferential muscle stimulation atleast two to three times a week.

4) Simple muscle relaxants, which are available as a cream and oral tablets, will help rather than pain-relieving drugs.

5) Using soft pillows will relieve the symptoms.

6) Take calcium supplementation.

If you have any other doubts, please feel free to ask.

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