Shoulder Pain

Print icon

What is it?  

Shoulder pain involves any pain in or around the shoulder joint.The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a large range of movement. It is the most mobile joint in the human body. This means it is more susceptible to injury. The rotator cuff in the shoulder is made up of four tendons, which gives the shoulder a wide range of motion. Any swelling, inflammation, tearing or changes around these tendons causes pain during shoulder movement.  

What causes it?  

Injuries are the most common cause of shoulder pain. Pain can also develop from everyday wear and tear or overuse. It can also be caused by the natural process of aging.

Shoulder problems can be minor or serious. Minor shoulder problems, such as sore muscles and aches and pains, are common.Shoulder injuries most commonly occur during sports activities (including gym workouts), during work-related activities, or while doing projects at home.

They can also be caused from falls.  

Symptoms may include pain, swelling, numbness , tingling, weakness, changes in temperature or color, or changes in your range of motion.

Pain may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury.

Shoulder pain can also be caused by shoulder joint instability or from pulled muscles (strains), a dislocation or collar bone or upper arm bone fracture.

Pinched nerves (also called radiculopathy) or other injuries to shoulder nerves can also cause severe pain.

Overuse injuries occur when too much stress is placed on a joint or other tissue, often by overdoing an activity or through repetition of an activity.

A frozen shoulder, which is a condition that limits shoulder movement, may follow an injury. This occurs when the muscles,tendons, and ligaments stiffen up inside the shoulder and make any motion painful and difficult.  

Shoulder pain can also be due to:  

  • Arthritis in the joints around the shoulder

  • Bursitis (inflammation of a fluid-filled sac, or bursa, that lies between tendon and skin or between tendon and bone)

  • Inflammation of nearby tendons, such as those connected to the bicep muscles of your arms, from overuse or injury


Common treatments  

Treatment for a shoulder injury may include first aid measures, physical therapy, medicine and in some cases surgery.

Treatment depends on where the pain is located, the type of pain and the severity of the injury. It also may depend on when the injury occurred.

Your age, health condition, and activities, such as work, sports or hobbies must also be considered.Home treatment often can help relieve minor aches and pains.

The treatment of soft tissue neck and shoulder pain may include the use of anti-inflammatory medication. Other medications such as muscle relaxants may also be used – depending on the source of pain.

Pain also may be treated with a local application of moist heat or ice.

Local corticosteroid injection is often helpful for arthritis of the shoulder.

Exercises may also help to assist shoulder pain movement.

Acupuncture is also used to manage many types of shoulder pain. In these cases, alternate treatments such as chiropractic or physiotherapy may assist.

Surgery may be necessary for cases in which nerve roots or the spinal cord are involved. Your doctor is the best person to advise on the best course of action to take.

Follow Me on Pinterest
About Pain does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment