nerve pain from CP/pancreas?

Posted , 5 users are following.

Hello all-- wanted to ask if any folks with known/confirmed CP or pancreas issues ever get nerve-like pain in the upper left shoulder and down their right arm. I have been battling some intense, electric-like pain in my left shoulder, down the backside of my left arm into my pinky finger for about a month now. At times it can cause my whole upper back to tense up. 

I haven't been able to find any good examples of CP/pancreas referred pain in this manner, nor have a found any good medical diagrams showing C7/C8 nerve intervention by the pancreas. In addition, my C7/T1 vertebrae are sensitive to touch, and if I press where the C7 facet joint is (the boney part of the spine that sticks out) I get an almost electric shock of pain that shoots down my right shoulder and arm. I am thinking this might be more of a disc/nerve issue, but wanted to check and see if folks have any referred pain like this.  

In the past I have gotten dull, throbbing like pain in my upper right back that is always associated with eating fatty foods, etc, and I always attributed that to my pancreas/bile issues. 

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Get your spleen / liver checked. I had agonizing nerve pinch-like pain in my left shoulder. It took throwing a blood clot in my liver (near the pancreas) to learn my spleen was in jeopardy. I lost half of mine. I can't speak to the other symptoms.

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  • Posted

    I get horrible referred pain so bad in my left shoulder it actually caused a condition called frozen shoulder. I also have hypersensitivity if you touch my back near my pancreas but I have a nerve condition called CRPS that likes to play a role sometimes. There’s a sac of nerves right under your abdomen/ribs area in the middle. I had the celiac nerve block performed and I felt it in my legs. This sac of nerves isn’t connected to the spine but I felt nerve pain in my legs when they were performing it. It would not surprise me if your pancreas is flared and you’re feeling pain in your arm/shoulder. 
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    • Posted

      Shortie, thanks for the reply. I don't get frozen shoulder, but it is a stabbing/aching like pain next to the shoulder blade and pain/weakness/tingling down the backside of my left arm. Sometimes by elbow and wrist really hurt, and my C7 vertebrae is supper supper sore to touch on the left side. If I press on that spot if feels like an electric shock. I was having a hard time thinking that the pancreas can cause a neck vertebrae to hurt, but who knows. 

      In the past (the last 20 months) when my pain under my right rib would flare up I would get indigestion and referred pain into my right shoulder. This pattern was very consistent. The left shoulder/neck/arm pain is new, and makes me wonder if something has "evolved" with the pancreas/bile issue or if this is something more structural in nature. I was wondering if folks with CP had a sudden shift in pain location like this, or a similar pain profiles of nerve-like radiculopathy.

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    • Posted

      I get an ache then stabbing sensation in my shoulder that even radiated up to my ear when my pancreas flares up. I didn’t know I had CP when I was diagnosed with frozen shoulder. My frozen shoulder also gradually happened, it didn’t just freeze. I started to lose range of motion due to the pain and eventually it locked up. Fortunately it got better after cortisone shots and I have full range of motion now. However, when my pancreas flares, my shoulder does too. I actually didn’t know what referred pain was until years later. I don’t get pain on my right side, it’s strictly left for me but I also don’t have a gallbladder.  I got CP due to Pancreas Divisum (born with two pancreatic ducts that never fused together). My ducts get clogged up very easily and I suffer pancreatitis symptoms without getting a full blown attack. My pancreas gets so sore, it literally hurts to touch my back. I’ve been through almost every treatment except having my pancreas removed which is the next step (I just don’t know when or the specific details). There’s so many nerves next to the pancreas and the spine, it’s very difficult to differentiate the two. If you still have your gallbladder and you’re feeling pain on your right side then I would contact your doctor. I remember feeling pain in my shoulder when my gallbladder was removed but that was back in 2003. We tend to get so used to pain that we ignore it. I wouldn’t ignore it. It’s better to be safe. It took the doctors over a year to diagnose my pancreas issues and it has been a battle dealing with them. It’s amazing how one organ can affect your body. I truly hope you feel better soon! 
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  • Posted

    Were you diagnosed for CP?
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    • Posted

      No, not yet, but it is what my doctors are suspecting. I have yet to have a EUS, but I have had 2 CTs, colonoscopy, endoscopy, 6 liver/pancreas blood panels, gallbladder removed, and MRCP 17 months after symptoms first appeared. All negative. I have been taking pancreatic enzymes and they seem to help digestion and pain, so doc's are leaning towards early CP. If have more than 10 grams of fat per meal I feel pain and caffeine and alcohol also causes pain. I have had these symptoms for about 22 months now. 

      The medical journal articles state the average time from first symptoms to diagnosis in CP patiens is between ~60 and 80 months, so I may have a long road to a diagnosis. I suspect it takes this long for damage/stones to become apparent on scans. 

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  • Posted

    Have you ever had your Vitamin B12 level tested.

    There is a correlation between pancreas problems and B12 deficiency

    Symptoms of B12 deficiency tend to develop slowly and may not be recognised immediately. As the condition worsens, common symptoms include:

    Weakness and fatigue

    Light-headedness and dizziness

    Palpitations and rapid heartbeat

    Shortness of breath

    A sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance

    Nausea or poor appetite

    Weight loss


    Yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes

    If low levels of B12 remain for a long time, the condition also can lead to irreversible damage to nerve cells, which can cause the following symptoms:

    Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet

    Difficulty walking

    Muscle weakness


    Memory loss




    I am not a medically trained person but I've had Pernicious Anaemia (a form of B12 deficiency) for more than 46 years.

    I wish you well. 

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    • Posted

      Hello Clive, 

      I have not had my B12 tested, but I do take a daily vitamin that has 200% daily intake needs. I suppose this could attribute to the neck/arm pain, but not sure how it would cause such a severe reaction to fatty foods, etc. Thanks for the suggestion, I had never heard of Pernicious Anaemia.

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    • Posted

      Pernicious means fatal or deadly and when I was diagnosed with P.A. back in 1972 I was "given" two years to live unless I either ate raw liver three times a day or had injections of Vitamin B12 every month for the rest of my life.

      Much as I love liver, bacon and onions - cooked - I opted for the injections and I'm still "clivealive" at the age of 77.

      I will message you a link which deals with malabsorption of B12 due to pancreatic insufficiency.

      It could be that even the B12 you are supplementing isn't "getting through".

      In a normal healthy person the stomach lining has what are called "Gastric parietal cells" which produce "Intrinsic Factor" which travels with food through the small intestine which is made up of three parts - the Duodenum, the Jejunum and the Ileum..

      Iron is absorbed in the Duodenum, most other nutrients in the Jejunum and our friend B12 in the Ileum.

      Here the Intrinsic Factor binds to the B12 and the "B12/IF Complex" enters the cells on the wall of the Ileum after binding to receptors on the surface of the Ileal cells, allowing it to enter the blood stream.

      Sadly some people with "traditional P,A." either do not produce Intrinsic Factor or if they do, they also produce an antibody which destroys it and it is then called "Autoimmune Pernicious Anaemia". In addition it can happen that we produce "Parietal cell Antibodies" and "Intrinsic Factor Antibodies"

      which totally wipes out any chance of absorbing the B12.

      I'm not for one moment suggesting that you have P.A. - just that you may need to have your serum B12 level checked together with your Folate (a.k.a.folic acid) as the two "work together" 

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    • Posted

      You make excellent points. I also have to get B12 injections even though I take a multivitamin everyday. B12 deficiency can cause havoc on nerves as well as the stomach. I recently found out there’s a hereditary condition called HH which affects the pancreas, liver, heart and tissue. Apparently the body can’t absorb iron correctly but it usually doesn’t affect women until menopause and it’s a gene mutation condition. It’s more common in men but it’s rare at the same time. I honestly feel like it takes the doctors so long to diagnose the pancreas issues that we end up developing malabsorption issues as well. I definitely feel it’s a learning process everyday. I’m glad there’s a forum like this for support. 
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