Can Gas Cause Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain is a common irritation to almost anyone. Some studies suggest that more than 70% of people around the world experiences shoulder pain at least once in their lifetime.

When you have pain in your shoulder, it usually comes with muscle or joint problems. In most cases, these are the reasons responsible for the pain. But sometimes it can be something else.

If you experience shoulder pain where a movement of the arms does not make any difference, then it is time to ask “can gas cause shoulder pain”. It may be surprising for many that gas in the gut can result in shoulder pain. But it’s true and you can get pain in other parts of your body too.

Gas Accumulation in The Gut

To understand the question “can gas cause shoulder pain”, we need to look at how the body deals with gas.

When you breathe, the air pushes into your lungs. Sometimes, you swallow air too. If the air is a significant amount, then you will experience aerophagia. Many factors can cause aerophagia.

For example, when you chew gum, it is possible to swallow some air in the process. Some people swallow air when they eat or drink too fast. Other causes include postnasal drip, as well as smoking.

When you swallow air, gas starts to collect in your stomach. If you belch or burp, then most of the gas exits your body through the esophagus and mouth.

The small intestine usually absorbs a small amount of the gas in your stomach. And rest of the gas moves toward your large intestine. And it exits your body through the rectum as a fart!

can gas cause shoulder pain

Sometimes, the gas is too much for the intestines to be absorbed.

Additionally, good bacteria in your large intestine break down some of the undigested foods rich in fiber, starch, and sugar. When bacteria break these carbohydrates down, it produces carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and a little bit of methane gas.

If the gas production is massive doctors refer to the situation as trapped gas. Trapped gas can develop certain symptoms like pain, nausea, bloated feeling, and whatnot. The gas can also affect areas other than the gastrointestinal tract.

What Are the Symptoms of Trapped Gas?

If you experience shoulder pain, it is a good idea to consider the symptoms of trapped gas. This will help you to determine whether the pain is due to gastric health or muscle or joint problem.

There are a few common symptoms of trapped gas that you can look for when you have left or right shoulder pain when breathing:

  • Frequently passing gas
  • Burping and belching
  • A knotted feeling in the stomach area
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Experiencing pressure on the abdominal region

Apart from these, you should check for the symptoms of bloating. Some people experience distention when there is too much gas in their stomach. Distention is the visible increase in your abdomen’s size.

Can gas cause shoulder pain and neck pain?

Yes, people still wonder if gas can cause shoulder and neck pain. Well, it depends on you. Some people experience shoulder pain when they have excess trapped gas in their bodies. Whereas, other complaints about pain or pressure in the chest instead.

In most cases, you experience shoulder pain when there is a problem with a muscle or joint in the area. This could be due to an injury or osteoarthritis. Lifting heavy weights, for example, can cause you to strain a muscle in the shoulder.

can gas cause shoulder pain

When gas is the cause of the pain, doctors call it referred shoulder pain. It means the shoulder pain is not caused by something in the affected area.

It is usually relatively easy to determine if the pain is referred or direct. Simply move your shoulders. If the pain is caused by any shoulder joint or muscle, then it will either get worse or better. When you do not feel a difference when moving the shoulders, then it’s a referred pain.

Trapped gas in the upper back is also something to consider for referred pain.

However, gas is not the only abdominal problem that can cause shoulder pain. So, can gastric cause shoulder pain too? Yes, it can.

Gallstones are a good example. The phrenic nerve runs next to the gallbladder. The nerve extends through the chest and runs up to the neck area. Gallstones cause the gallbladder to become swollen. And this can irritate the phrenic nerve. When irritated, you will feel the effects as pain on the neck and shoulders.

How Do I Get Rid of Gas Pain in Chest and Shoulder?

Pain in the shoulder due to gas can be annoying and even disabling sometimes. Taking a muscle relaxant might not do the trick. So, how to get gas pain in shoulder relief.

There are multiple strategies that you can try. The goal of these strategies is to prevent the accumulation of gas in your abdomen. Some of the techniques also help to reduce the gas that is already trapped in your gut.

The strategies that we share here can be used for trapped gas even if it does not affect your shoulders. For example, they can help if you have upper back pain due to gas.

Avoid Holding Gas In

One of the most common reasons people experience trapped wind upper back pain is because they hold gas in. This especially happens when you find yourself in a social environment.

We tend to avoid passing gas or burping in public. It is important to note that these are natural events that happen to everyone. A good idea is to look for a location where you can pass gas. It should not be too challenging to find a public bathroom in the area, for example.

Similarly, you have to avoid holding stools in. When you need to pass stool, be sure to make an effort to do so. Bowel movement is an important part of the digestive process.

When you have a bowel movement, you may find that it helps to reduce gas in your gastrointestinal tract. This is because the movement causes some of the gasses trapped in your intestine to release.

Avoid Eating Too Fast

You are about to hit the road for work and need to get a bite. So, you try to eat quickly. By doing so, you risk swallowing air along with your food. It will make you asking can gas cause right and left shoulder pain later.

When you eat, whether it is a meal or just a snack, always consume the food slowly. Make time for your lunch. Sit down when having breakfast. When you chew your food properly and eat slowly, then you have a lower risk of swallowing air.

Make sure you are not on the move when having a meal. If you move around while eating, then you are also more likely to take in air with the food. Thus, try to sit down when you eat otherwise get ready to feel left and right shoulder pain after eating.

Use A Glass or Cup

Straws are incredibly useful, especially if you do not have time to sit down at a restaurant or a desk. The problem, however, is that it is relatively easy to suck in some air alongside your beverage when using a straw.

The alternative is to take a sip directly from the can or bottle. But this might also not be a good idea. Sometimes, the same effect can happen when drinking directly from the bottle. Instead, try to use a glass or cup when you have a drink.

Avoid Carbonated Drinks

Soda and sparkling water might taste good, but they contain a lot of carbon dioxide to carbonate the liquid. When you have one or two glasses full of these, you are adding more gas into your stomach.

In turn, you may experience bloating as a side-effect. This is especially something to consider if you already have too much gas trapped in your gastrointestinal tract.

Take A Closer Look at Your Diet

What we eat matters for several reasons. When we prepare any meal, in most cases, we ignore whether it can build up gas. There are some foods known to cause a higher accumulation of gas in the gut. Avoiding these foods can be helpful. If you cannot completely avoid them, at least try to limit your consumption of the foods or ingredients.

A few foods that you need to exclude rather than asking can gas cause shoulder pain:

  • Foods that are deep fried
  • Meals that contain a large number of onions and garlic
  • Products that contain dairy
  • Spicy meals
  • Foods and drinks that contain maltitol, sorbitol, or aspartame
  • Supplements with a high dose of fiber
  • Meals and snacks that are high in fat
  • Beans, lentils, and other legumes
  • Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and other types of cruciferous vegetables

It may be hard to cut out all of these foods from your diet. Some people find it very useful to start a food diary. This allows you to track the foods you eat, as well as scenarios of symptoms like left shoulder and abdominal pain.

You can then analyze the notes you take to determine which foods are triggers for your symptoms. When you identify such foods, then you should aim to exclude them first.

can gas cause shoulder pain

Eliminate trigger foods one at a time if needed. You should feel an improvement in your symptoms if you remove the culprit foods from your diet. You should also read the labels of products that you buy.

Many foods, candies, and beverages contain artificial sweeteners. Make sure you take note of these and choose variants that do not contain ingredients that trigger symptoms.

Conclusion

You usually think of gas as something that affects your gastrointestinal tract. What many people do not realize is that gas can affect other parts of the body too.

Can gas cause shoulder pain? The answer is yes. Although gas affects people differently. While some experience pain in the shoulders, others rather complain about pain in other areas, such as the chest.

Dr Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends his time outside the hospital, either reading or at the gym.

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