Aching shoulders : Haven't posted... - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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Aching shoulders


Haven't posted anything for ages because my health has been so good. I also managed to get awarded the standard rates of PIP so am very happy. As some of you are aware I suffer from end stage liver disease and I have been coping with the usual symptoms. But over the last few months I have been suffering from extreme aches and stiffness in my shoulders which is only getting worse. My left shoulder is particularly painful, so much so that I cannot shave under that arm because I can't lift it high enough. And forget putting the washing out! I see my consultant in 10 days and I know he will say I've pulled something but is there anything more sinister with regards to my liver it might be?

7 Replies

Hi Kez, it is possible to get referred shoulder pain. Right shoulder from the liver and left shoulder from the spleen - following my hubbies aneurysm operation and then subsequent splenic infarction the pain in his left shoulder was unbearable immediately post op (requiring both oral and intravenous morphine) and then in following weeks he was in agony in his shoulder and he was prescribed tramadol. Therefore it is possible there is something liver or spleen related with your shoulder pain.

Hope doctor does investigate it and doesn't just fob you off, when was your last ultrasound scan and what did it say about your spleen?


Kez12 in reply to AyrshireK

Last ultrasound was bank holiday. I don't get the results until I see my consultant. I was more concerned that day to see if my ascites had returned but I was told no I'd just put on weight. This is good because I was so malnourished last November so I must be doing something right.

Hi Kez as you probaly know liver diease causes pain of the muscles and a kind of artheritic pain of the bone and joints,the only other thing i can think of is frozen shoulder,best to see gp.x

Hidden in reply to bluemoon2


I get pain in both shoulders and blades, also pain going through to back . Hope your appointment goes well. Love and hugs Lynne xxxx

Hi Kez12, good to see you're posting again and that things are going good for you at last. 😊 re. The shoulder pain; I can only repeat what I was told when I complained about excruciating pain in my right shoulder that was almost worse than the discomfort of ascites, being unable to breathe (emphysema/copd) and also cellulitis in my massively oedamatous legs, which was that there's a nerve that runs from your head right down the right-hand side of your body. With the onset of cirrhosis the liver swells and this then presses on this nerve causing pain in the right shoulder. This ties in with what Katie says because if you're Stage 4 then chances are you'll have splenic issues as well; the spleen being on the left. I'd mention it to your consultant. I do agree though that it is bloody awful and absolutely nothing helps - it's just there CONSTANTLY. I hope that things continue to improve for you, stay strong and take care - Nick


Your shoulder pain could be due to any of a number of possible reasons. I've had excruciating shoulder pain a few times when I was younger especially in my left shoulder if I attempted to lift my arm more than a certain height. In my case it was not liver related. I'm almost certain that my shoulder pain was referred pain from my neck which was stiff and arthritic. I felt the pain in the shoulder but it originated in my neck.

Like many people my neck becomes tense under stress. Years of stress resulted in the vertebrae in my neck becoming compressed and the nerves pinched and I suffered referred pain in my shoulders as a result. I was referred to a rheumatologist who confirmed that I had an unusually arthritic neck for someone my age. Another doctor told me that my shoulder pain could be bursitis which is inflammation of the small fluid filled sacks in each shoulder. Anti-inflammatory drugs could help if you have bursitis but they would aggravate your cirrhosis.

Based on my experience shoulder pain tends to come and go. I haven't had a recurrence of mine because my neck isn't as stiff and tense as it used to be.

Many many thanks for everyone's comments and thoughts about what I possibly could be up against. I will let you all know what the consultant says after my visit x

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