Shoulder & Neck Tightness: Gallbladder or Liver Issues?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/25/2024

While many people experience pain in their right shoulder or neck tightness, most do not realize that this could be a sign of gallbladder or liver problems.

Learn about the connection between neck tightness, shoulder pain, gallbladder health, and liver issues, as well as how to remedy these problems.

Understanding Right-Sided Shoulder and Neck Pain

Your right shoulder or neck discomfort might be more than just a simple strain. It could stem from issues with organs like the liver or gallbladder. These crucial digestive organs play significant roles that, when disrupted, can lead to pain symptoms.

Role of Liver and Gallbladder in Digestion

Your liver produces bile, which aids digestion by breaking fats into fatty acids. The gallbladder stores this bile until it's needed for digestion. A well-functioning system ensures the smooth flow of these processes.

However, any disruption may result in pain radiating up toward the shoulder and neck region due to nerve connections between these areas.

Common Conditions that Affect Bile Flow

Certain conditions, such as cirrhosis or fatty liver disease, can obstruct normal bile flow, leading to complications known as acute cervical radiculopathy. These cases often resolve and are associated with worsening pain around the shoulders and neck area.

A condition with wear-and-tear on spinal disks in your neck also causes similar symptoms.

In severe situations involving pinched nerves within the spinal canal, surgical procedures are considered alongside physical therapy sessions designed specifically for each patient's needs. If you are experiencing painful symptoms, consult a physician about your discomfort.

How Fatty Liver and Cirrhosis Contribute to Right-Sided Discomfort

Thickened bile, a condition caused by the obstruction of bile flow from the liver due to fatty liver disease or cirrhosis, is frequently disregarded yet can be a significant source of right-sided shoulder and neck pain.

This disruption in normal digestion processes is often overlooked but plays a significant role in causing right-sided shoulder and neck pain symptoms.

Symptoms of Thick Bile Build-Up

The buildup of sludge-like substance due to fatty liver or cirrhosis could be one reason behind worsening pain on the right side. For instance, it may cause discomfort around the upper-right abdomen area, which might radiate towards your shoulder blade.

If left untreated, this can potentially lead to acute cervical radiculopathy cases that resolve only with proper treatment options.

Connection Between Irritated Gallbladder and Phrenic Nerve

An irritated gallbladder due to issues like gallstones, inflammation caused by conditions such as cirrhosis, or other factors related to unhealthy dietary habits can trigger irritation along phrenic nerve pathways. These pathways connect directly with areas including our shoulders and necks, resulting in pinched nerves, also commonly called 'cervical radiculopathy.'

This phenomenon explains why some individuals experience persistent discomfort despite not having any apparent injuries at their spinal cord level.

In severe instances where conservative measures fail, you must seek emergency medical attention immediately since potential complications include narrowing down spinal canal space (known medically as "cervical spondylosis"), requiring prompt intervention.

Causes Behind Right-Sided Shoulder And Neck Pain

Various factors can trigger right-sided shoulder and neck pain. Your dietary habits play a significant role in this discomfort, especially the intake of unsaturated fatty acids like omega-6.

Impact Of Unsaturated Fatty Acids On Liver Health

High consumption of unsaturated fatty acids (omega-6), commonly found in vegetable oils and processed foods, could lead to inflammation. This might contribute to worsening pain symptoms around your cervical radiculopathy area.

Natural Remedies For Alleviating Right-Sided Discomfort

Experiencing discomfort in the shoulder or neck area can be incredibly unpleasant, but there are natural remedies that may provide some relief. Purified bile salts, for instance, have shown promise in helping with digestion issues linked to right-sided discomfort.

Benefits Of Purified Bile Salts For Digestive Issues

Purified bile salts are gaining attention in the treatment options available for digestive problems associated with conditions like fatty liver and cirrhosis.

Bile salts aid in breaking down fats during digestion, and their supplementation could potentially improve this process, especially when dealing with thickened bile caused by certain health conditions.

This improved fat breakdown might reduce inflammation within the gallbladder and liver, which subsequently helps alleviate related cervical radiculopathy cases, including acute ones and chronic right-sided shoulder and neck pains.

Importance Of Omega-3 Rich Foods

Incorporating more omega-3-rich foods into your diet is another way to combat such discomforts naturally. Unlike their counterparts - unsaturated fatty acids (omega-6), omega-3 fats contribute positively towards maintaining a healthy liver function.

  1. Foods high in omega-3 include fish like salmon, mackerel, chia seeds, and walnuts.

  2. Avoiding overconsumption of nuts despite them being good sources of essential nutrients due to the potential adverse effects they pose, mainly if consumed excessively while following diets such as ketogenic.

  3. Maintaining a balanced intake between both types - i.e., limiting consumption levels where necessary while ensuring adequate supply from healthier alternatives instead.

Remember, worsening pain could indicate underlying severe medical concerns, so be sure to consult a healthcare professional in these instances.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Or Manage Such Discomfort

Adopting healthier lifestyle changes can be a powerful strategy for preventing or managing right-sided shoulder and neck pain. This includes following a healthy keto diet, increasing vegetable consumption, and incorporating regular intermittent fasting and periodic prolonged fasting into your routine.

Keto-friendly foods

Implementing A Healthy Keto Diet Regime

A healthy ketogenic diet, rich in good fats and low in carbs, effectively manages discomfort associated with gallbladder or liver issues.

The key lies in reducing carbohydrate intake and ensuring that you're consuming high-quality fat sources like avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, etc., which help reduce inflammation while providing necessary nutrients for overall health.

Role Of Intermittent Fasting In Promoting Better Digestive Health

Intermittent fasting could play a crucial role in promoting better digestive health by giving your body more time to process food effectively, thereby easing any pressure on the liver/gallbladder.

  • If you're new to intermittent fasting, consider starting slowly, perhaps trying shorter fasts before gradually extending them over time as per comfort levels/body response. Always remember hydration during non-fasting windows is critical.

  • Don't overlook physical activity as regular exercise helps improve circulation. Better circulation helps relieve pain symptoms caused by cervical spondylosis or pinched nerve conditions. However, ensure exercises are performed under supervision, especially if you are experiencing worsening pain.

Muscle Knot in Neck and Right Shoulder Pain Remedies

When dealing with a muscle knot in the neck and right shoulder pain, natural remedies can offer relief and promote relaxation. Muscle knots, also known as trigger points, can cause discomfort and tension in the neck and shoulder area.

One effective natural remedy for a muscle knot in the neck is acupressure. Applying gentle pressure to specific neck, shoulders, and upper back points can help release tension and alleviate the knot.

You can also try heat therapy, using a warm compress or taking a warm shower, to relax the muscles and reduce pain.

In addition to acupressure and heat therapy, gentle neck stretches, and shoulder exercises can improve flexibility and loosen tight muscles. Regular exercise, such as swimming, can also promote overall muscle health and reduce the likelihood of muscle knots.

Aromatherapy with essential oils like lavender or peppermint may help soothe muscle discomfort and promote relaxation. Simply dilute a few drops of essential oil with carrier oil and apply it to the affected area.


Understanding the connection between right-sided shoulder pain, neck discomfort, gallbladder wellness, and liver health is crucial for effective management and relief.

Conditions like fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, or gallbladder issues can manifest as discomfort in these areas due to nerve connections and bile flow disruptions.

Natural remedies such as purified bile salts, omega-3-rich foods, and lifestyle changes like adopting a healthy keto diet or intermittent fasting can alleviate symptoms and promote digestive health.

It's essential to consult healthcare professionals for proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plans, ensuring a holistic approach to managing right-sided discomfort and improving overall well-being.

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan