What are the Causes of Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain is a common complaint and shoulder pain causes can be many and varied. Getting to the roots of the causes and origins of the pain is the task which the doctor treating the problem must complete before deciding on the most appropriate treatment.

Once the cause of the shoulder pain has been established and a treatment plan has been put in place, the patient is often advised to avoid sports activity or overuse, he is often advised to apply ice-packs to the affected area and to do specific rehabilitative exercises.

During the initial check-up the shoulder doctor will analyze the level of flexibility and movement of the shoulder. Posture, which if incorrect, can lead to shoulder pain, will be checked in order to help him ascertain the cause of the pain. He will also need to gather information on the type of job carried out and evaluate any activities that involve repetitive movements which might cause pain. He will be checking if there have been any type of injuries (even old injuries) which could be at the root of the problem.

Shoulder pain causes:

  1. Fractures – not to be underestimated as a cause of shoulder pain – the examining doctor should exclude the possibility of any kind of broken or fractured bone. A compound fracture, if left untreated or undiagnosed, can lead to future bio-mechanical problems causing severe pain and increasing the risk of arthritis.
  2. Overuse – repetitive movements and bad posture can all lead to shoulder pain and discomfort. This can be caused by muscle damage or strain within the shoulder and can also lead to damaged tendons.
  3. The group of muscles in the shoulder are called the rotator cuff and the bicipital tendon that surround the shoulder joint. When either of these become inflamed or irritated we have a condition called shoulder tendinitis. Shoulder tendinitis is a common cause of shoulder pain and is the result of sports injuries, repetitive action or may be caused by a sudden injury. Shoulder tendinitis is a very painful condition.
  4. Frozen shoulder is a common cause of shoulder pain and can be described as painful with persistent stiffness of the joint. Normal movement, as a result, is restricted and it is difficult to carry out even the simplest movements and everyday tasks. The pain associated with frozen shoulder is often worse at night when the person is lying on the affected side.
  5. Shoulder instability – the joint of the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. The bone of the upper arm (humerus) is the ball part which fits into the socket which is the shoulder blade. When the ball part of the joint does not move properly this is known as shoulder instability. The symptoms are not always easy to define with patients sometimes describing symptoms of tingling, weakness, tiredness or an actual popping or clicking sensation. The condition can be caused in one of two ways, either by a trauma, which knocks the ball out of the joint, or over time where it slowly moves out of place.
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