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What Causes Shoulder Pain?
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a large range of
movement. Such a mobile joint tends to be more susceptible to injury. Shoulder pain can stem from one
or more of the following causes:
Collar or upper arm
What should I do if the pain persists?
Shoulder pain is an extremely common complaint,
and there are many common causes of this problem. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the
cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. If you have shoulder
pain, some common causes include:
Bursitis | Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
The most common diagnosis in patients with shoulder pain is bursitis or tendonitis of the rotator
Rotator Cuff Tear
Rotator cuff tears occur when the tendons of the rotator cuff separate from the bone. Surgery is sometimes
necessary for this condition.
Also called 'adhesive capsulitis’, this is a common condition that leads to stiffness of the joint. Physical
therapy and stretching are extremely important aspects of treatment.
Calcific tendonitis is a condition of calcium deposits within a tendon --most commonly within the rotator cuff
tendons. Treatment of calcific tendonitis depends on the extent of symptoms.
Instability is a problem that causes a loose joint. Instability can be caused by a traumatic injury
(dislocation), or may be a developed condition.
A dislocation is an injury that occurs when the top of the arm bone becomes disconnected from the
Also called an AC separation, these injuries are the result of a disruption of the acromioclavicular joint.
This is a very different injury from a dislocation!
There are several patterns of a torn labrum and the type of treatment depends on the specific
The SLAP lesion is also a type of labral tear. The most common cause is a fall onto an outstretched
Shoulder arthritis is less common than knee and hip arthritis, but when severe may require a joint replacement
Biceps Tendon Rupture
A proximal biceps tendon rupture occurs when the tendon of the biceps muscle ruptures near the
When do I need to call your doctor about my
If you are unsure of the
cause of your shoulder pain, or if you do not know the specific treatment
recommendations for your condition, you should seek medical attention.
Treatment of these conditions must be directed at the specific cause of
your problem. Some signs that you should be seen by a doctor
Inability to carry objects or use the arm
Injury that causes deformity of the joint
Shoulder pain that occurs at night or while resting
Shoulder pain that persists beyond a few days
Inability to raise the arm
Swelling or significant bruising around the joint or arm
Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth
What are the best treatments for shoulder
The treatment of shoulder pain depends entirely on the cause of
the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you
understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a
treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity
of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning
any treatment. Not all
treatments listed here are appropriate for every condition, but
may be helpful in your situation.
Rest: The first treatment for many common conditions that cause shoulder pain is to rest the
joint, and allow the acute inflammation to subside. It is important, however, to use caution when resting
joint, because prolonged immobilization can cause a frozen
Ice and Heat
Application: Ice packs and heat pads
are among the most commonly used treatments for shoulder pain. So which one is the right one to use, ice or
heat? And how long should the ice or heat
treatments last? Read on for more information about ice and heat
Stretching: Stretching the muscles and tendons that surround the joint can help with some causes of
shoulder pain. A good routine should be established, and following some specific suggestions will
help you on your way.
Physical Therapy:Physical therapy is an important aspect of treatment of almost all orthopedic conditions.
Physical therapists use different modalities to increase strength, regain mobility, and help
return patients to their pre-injury level of activity. Some specific exercises may help you strengthen the muscles
around the joint and relieve some of the pain associated with many conditions.
Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications, commonly referred to as NSAIDs, are some of
the most commonly prescribed medications, especially for patients with
shoulder pain caused by problems such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.
Cortisone injections: Cortisone is a powerful medication that treats inflammation, and inflammation is a common problem
in patients with shoulder pain. Discuss with your doctor the possible benefits of a
cortisone injection for your shoulder pain condition.