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Having shoulder pain and feeling hard to swallow. What could it be?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 2585 Questions
Hi, I have slight back shoulder pain and feel like something is stuck in my throat. It is hard to swallow at times.Any idea of my problem? I am only 34 years old.
Posted Thu, 22 Aug 2013 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Prasad 3 hours later

I understand difficulty while swallowing and the back/shoulder ache is concerning you. I shall try my best to provide useful and helpful information pertaining to both these concerns.

1. From the outset, I do not think the back/shoulder ache is related to throat discomfort/difficulty in swallowing. They most likely are independent concerns needing different management protocols.

2. Feeling of something stuck in the throat and difficulty while swallowing can be associated with organic as well as function disorders. Without detailed history it would be a daunting task to name the close possible cause. If possible can you elaborate since how long you been suffering? Is the difficulty more towards liquid food/solid food? Was it something that occurred abruptly or was it gradually developing one? History of frequent fever? Are you losing weight without reasons? - I would need you to elaborate more on these aspects.

If there are no significant accompanying symptoms, you might need to undergo an endoscopy to exclude organic/structural problems.

3. Mild shoulder and back ache is most likely to be due to mechanical / muscular cause. If the pain is involving the left side, probably bursitis can be causing it. Pinched nerve is the next close possibility.
If over the counter pain killers like panadol doesn't relieve the discomfort, you can proceed further to consult your orthopedic for detailed evaluation.

4. In all probabilities, I do not think they are by any chances due to heart or lung causes. So do not be very concerned.

Hope this answer your query. Let me know if you need clarifications.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having shoulder pain and feeling hard to swallow. What could it be? 20 hours later
Due to problem swallowing it is generally felt after solid foods and has been happening for about a month. I have tried antiacids with some relief. I have also tried increasing water, fruit and decreasing fatty foods, sometimes this helps sometimes it doesn't. It is mainly felt in left side of throat and left upper chest about heart region. No fever symptoms and no weight loss.
Answered by Dr. Prasad 1 hour later

Though your symptoms are localized to the left side around the region of heart, I am fairly confident that this is not a heart related concern. So do not be concerned about your heart.

Difficulty in swallowing solid food with feeling of food being stuck in the food pipe is described as eosphageal dysphagia. As your symptoms are of fairly short duration and you do not have accompanying weight loss/fever, I would safely exclude cancers at this point of time. Gastroesophageal reflux disease therefore would be the most likely cause of this discomfort / swallowing difficulty.

I am glad that you tried antacids with good results. You can continue them before every meal for couple of weeks more. Proton pump inhibitor medicines like omeprazole taken for 2-3 weeks are more than useful drug in this situation. 20mg of omeprazole is available over the counter in many countries; you can try your local pharmacy to obtain it.

A simple lifestyle and healthy diet, restricted caffeine and smoking (if any) is helpful. And if you do not feel better, you should proceed to consult a gastroenterologist. Upper GI endoscopsy (gastroscopy) test is in order.

I hope this helps. Let me know if I missed out any concerns.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having shoulder pain and feeling hard to swallow. What could it be? 23 hours later
Thanks for your advice, it is very reassuring.
Answered by Dr. Prasad 15 minutes later

If you have no more questions to me I would appreciate your reviews and feedbacks. You can post them after closing this discussion.

Wish you good health...
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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