Left Shoulder Hurts After Eating: Is It Pancreatitis?

You are out with your friends. You just had a delicious meal. It had all your favorite foods. Pizza from your favorite place, that fried chicken you liked the other day, the booze you love.

On your way back home, you feel discomfort in your left shoulder. Previously, you would have noticed this pain long after you ate. Furthermore, you saw your left shoulder hurts after eating. The right shoulder seems to be fine.

What can be the cause behind left shoulder pain after eating? Is it normal? Or is it indicative of something serious? Should you be worried?

In medical terms, the best way to pin it is to call it “Referred pain.” Meaning the pain source is something else. Sometimes it is severe, and sometimes it’s not.

Let’s know in detail everything about left shoulder pain after eating:

left shoulder pain after eating

Causes of Left Shoulder Hurts After Eating

The shoulder shares the same nerve supply as most of our abdominal organs. So, pain in one of them means something is wrong with any of them.

Here are some of the common guesses if you feel you have left shoulder pain after eating.

Pancreatitis

The pancreas secretes insulin which helps in the breakdown of carbohydrates. Insulin is also the primary hormone for glucose metabolism. It helps to maintain the blood sugar level in our blood.

Related: What is The Normal Blood Sugar Level For Seniors?

The pancreas has three parts, the head, body, and tail.

The head and body are innervated with thoracic spinal cord segments (T5-T9), and the tail portion is innervated with cervical parts of the spinal cord (C3-C5).

The tail portion shares the same innervation with the tip of the left shoulder. So whenever a person has any food that triggers his pain, it hurts on the shoulders if he has pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is a severe condition, and you must seek immediate medical attention. It is always best to get a few diagnostic tests done if you feel your lifestyle changes are not helping much.

Cardiac Problem

The left side of the body bears the vital organ of our body: The human heart. It is worrisome whenever you report to the ER with pain on your left side, be it your shoulder or your arm.

They firstly check if you have a heart attack. Besides, angina pectoris may also cause referred pain to the shoulder.

Related: Why Do It Feels Like My Rib is Catching on Something?

Needless to say, this pain is less likely to be the cause of left shoulder hurts after eating.

It is because cardiac problems do not depend on factors like eating. Irrespective of what you eat, you may feel the tug anywhere in your body for it. The pain in heart attacks is severe and sharp. It stays for a prolonged time too. So it is easier to differentiate between the two.

Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff injury occurs due to two significant reasons: injury and degeneration. When a person falls on an outstretched hand, he may injure his rotator cuff. The shoulder joint dislocates and may cause severe pain in any of the shoulders.

In addition, aging may also be a prominent reason for rotator cuff injury. Regardless, rotator cuff injury has barely any relevance to left shoulder pain after eating. It is more associated with accidents, external injuries, traumas, etc. The dietary association is a less probable cause for a rotator cuff injury.

Tendonitis

Inflammation of muscle tendons is called tendonitis. At the time of doing heavy movements, this pain may strike in, in any of your shoulders. Processed foods, sugar-rich foods, and high-fat meals may cause tendonitis and eventually lead to shoulder pain after eating.

left shoulder pain after eating

GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease sends back the stomach acid to the esophagus and burns its lining. This is one of the main diseases that can cause left shoulder pain after eating. This disease must be treated immediately and should not be neglected at any cost.

In GERD, the food cannot travel across the gastrointestinal tract and instead returns. The returning speed is sharp and hits all the nerves in between. Therefore, there is acute pain in the left shoulder.

Bone pain

Many times after taking a sumptuous meal, the bone pain may increase. Calcium and iron-rich food have shown symptoms of this kind. And it intensifies the condition of left shoulder hurts after eating.

How to Know Where It Hurts

Now that we know left shoulder pain after eating is a referred pain, some tricks and tips may he;p to pinpoint its origin.

Right after eating, if you have a slow and sluggish pain radiating to your left shoulders, it could be due to GERD or pancreatitis. In most cases, it is assumed to be pancreatitis.

Besides this, if the pain is on the right shoulder, you will likely have cholecystitis, i.e., gallstones.

Related: How to stop a gallbladder attack while it is happening?

I don’t mean to scare you; the pain in your left shoulder can be any simple muscle pull or cramp. But the moment you notice your food intake related to it, please get yourself checked.

Please do not fall for the human habit of neglecting your pain and let it worsen on its own. It could cause you collateral damage and bring death closer to you.

Why Is It Important to Check With Your Doctor

Instinctively, the first guess to a left shoulder pain after eating is pancreatitis. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Pancreatitis gets worse when neglected. Fatty foods and alcohol can deteriorate the problem ten folds. If you find such pain on your shoulder after taking food, you may have initial symptoms. The initial symptoms can be treated well and stopped from worsening.

A chronic case of pancreatitis can be life-threatening. As your Left shoulder hurts after eating, it signals you to get an endoscopy, and you don’t, your pancreas might be needing serious help.

Pancreatitis goes to the worst situation, can burst and cause infection. The organ, therefore, proceeds to septicemia and eventually leads to death.

In another place, the fluid accumulates in the pleural space with lung compression and ultimately causes respiratory distress syndrome.

Pancreatic-pleural fistula and effusion can also rise from pancreatitis.

All in all, the moment you see your meal for the day is causing you pain in the shoulder, know that your clock is ticking. It would help if you visited the doctor as soon as possible.

What Food Triggers Left Shoulder Pain

Does your left shoulder hurt exactly after you eat? Have you paid attention to what kind of foods trigger this?

Alcohol, Oily, greasy, fat-rich foods contain a high amount of trans fat. Trans fat is unhealthy and initiates an uneasy feeling in your stomach region. As time passes by, these kinds of food lead to acidity. Acidity or heartburn has a common characteristic of radiating the pain to various locations.

One such location is the left shoulder. This is quite a common phenomenon in patients with pancreatitis. Suddenly they complain of sharp pain right after they have taken food.

When researched, a vast population complains the food to be oily and fat-riched. Moreover, alcohol is a prominent reason for this pain.

It has helped doctors to come to a conclusion on how left shoulder pain after eating is most likely because of pancreatitis.

When Left Shoulder Hurts After Eating, Do These to Ease Your Pain

Things can be tricky when you are having pain in your shoulder. Try these proven remedies to keep the pain under control.

Control What You Eat, How Much You Eat

To avoid any health complications, it is wisest to be aware of what you are eating. If left shoulder pain after eating aggravates with food intake, you have to reduce your food intake.

Eliminate the fat foods from your meal. Stop eating more in quantity and instead emphasize eating healthy.  Say goodbye to alcohol.

Change Your Diet

One crucial reason for pain right after eating is more oily food and alcohol.

Make a change in your diet and increase the green leafy vegetables, chicken, milk, eggs, red spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. Have more fibers and minerals.

Alcohol works like a slow poison. The more you have it, the more chances you have of ruining your health.

left shoulder pain after eating

Drink Lots of Water

Water is the answer to all of your queries. Not only does it lower your acidity, but it also regulates your metabolism. If the pain in your left shoulder is related to pancreatitis, it lowers by bringing the heartburn down. It will flush out the unwanted toxins from your body as well.

Physiotherapy

If your shoulder pain is related to rotator cuff injury, tendonitis, or muscle spasm, you may take physiotherapy. But it is highly recommended that you consult a physician at first and then proceed to it.

Assess the Severity

It might be a simple muscle pull or something as severe as pancreatitis; you must identify its severity.

How Does a Doctor Treat When Left Shoulder Hurts After Eating

After a confirmatory diagnosis of pancreatitis, a doctor provides his best medical attention to this.

Pancreatitis is a medical emergency. Under no circumstances should it be dealt with at home with home remedies. When done so, it may deteriorate the condition and make you suffer more.

As a part of your treatment procedure, you may have to fast for a few days to lower the inflammation. Intravenous fluids are therefore an excellent supply to keep you going. Several surgeries can be done if bile duct obstruction, gall bladder obstruction, pancreatic duct obstruction, etc.

For pain and a better lifestyle after this, a doctor can advise you for better pain management and changes in your diet.

As you slowly recover, you will see your left shoulder pain after eating subside gradually.

If diagnosed with GERD, antacids are suggested along with other medicines. In GERD, the pain is more and sharp. The burning sensation is a lot worse.

FAQs

How Do I Get Left Shoulder Pain Right After I Eat?

The phrenic nerve innervates the left shoulder and the upper abdomen region. When you eat something unhealthy and anything that triggers your underlying health conditions, you may feel the aches on your left shoulder.

This happens because the nerve is aggravated. This entire thing is termed as referred pain.

Which Organs Make the Left Shoulder Hurt?

Organs like the stomach, heart, pancreas, colon, spleen, etc., make the left side hurt in general. But a significant characteristic of acute pancreas inflammation called pancreatitis is to hurt the left shoulder after eating.

Can Left Shoulder Pain Happen Due to a Heart Attack?

Yes! Heart attacks can happen from coronary artery disease. As a symptom, your left side starts to ache. Shoulder, elbow, arm are common spots for this pain.

I Have a Dull Pain in My Left Shoulder- What Is It?

Most probably, it is bursitis. Bursitis occurs when your joint is overused or pressurized. It is the inflammation of the bursa, which is located in between the muscle and bones.

Endnote

The issue is, we are so busy and worked up with our lives that we barely pay heed to something like shoulder pain. Left shoulder pain after eating can prove to be equally fatal if not given the proper medical attention. If you see that the home remedies are not working out for you, please seek help from your nearest medical practitioner.

It is also vital that you stop your unhealthy lifestyle and instead lead a life that will benefit you in all mediums. Take care of yourself. Eat healthy to stay healthy. And keep the left shoulder hurts after eating on the bay.

Nuha Adila

I am a health enthusiast who finds fitness as a top priority in life. I like to keep a track of what I eat despite my profound attachment to any spicy food. Being a medical student, looking out for healthier food and lifestyle options has become a habit. And music inspires me while I write.

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