Can Pancreatitis Cause Shoulder Pain?


Posted By Author on April 6, 2021

You’ve heard it said that knowledge is power – and when it comes to your health, it’s best to heed these wise words. To help you learn more about pancreatitis and its symptoms, the team at Charleston GI is here to provide some helpful information.

Acute pancreatitis is the inflammation of your pancreas, an organ that helps to digest food. Despite its location behind the stomach and near the small intestine, your pancreas can cause pain in other parts of the body when it becomes inflamed. In fact, those suffering from acute pancreatitis may experience sudden pain in their upper abdomen that often radiates to the back – commonly the left shoulder blade. Pain may increase after eating or drinking, especially fatty foods.

Other Symptoms of Pancreatitis

In addition to abdominal and shoulder pain, other symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Jaundice
  • Diarrhea or oily stools
  • Bloating
  • High blood sugar
  • Weight loss

Keep in mind that some patients stop experiencing pain because their pancreas has stopped producing digestive enzymes. This does not mean that you should ignore prior symptoms and skip a visit to your doctor.

When To See a Doctor?

Continued episodes may indicate chronic pancreatitis. When left untreated, both acute and chronic pancreatitis can lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Pseudocysts (sacs of fluid in the pancreas) that can cause infection or internal bleeding
  • Increased risk of diabetes or kidney failure
  • Malnutrition

Pancreatitis can also be an early sign of pancreatic cancer.  Discussing treatment with your doctor right away is crucial to decrease your risk of future complications.

Pancreatitis Diagnosis At Charleston GI

After a physical exam and deep dive into your medical history, your Charleston GI doctor will likely conduct blood and urine tests to check if you have atypical or high levels of calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, magnesium and bicarbonate in your blood.

Our team may also request the following diagnostic tests:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • CT scans
  • And more

If you are diagnosed with pancreatitis, the experienced team at Charleston GI can help you identify potential risk factors and implement lifestyle changes. For instance, because heavy alcohol consumption is the most common cause of pancreatitis, avoiding drinking is an important lifestyle change.

After treatment, you may also be advised to:

  • Eat a low-fat diet.
  • Limit caffeine.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Stick to small, frequent meals.
  • Take prescribed pancreatic enzymes at every meal.

If you are experiencing symptoms of pancreatitis, contact Charleston GI today! There’s no referral needed, so getting quality care is more convenient than ever!