Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Shoulder pain is a common complaint that can be caused by a variety of issues. It's often localized to the shoulder region, but it can also be accompanied by pain in the arm, neck, and upper back. It may be acute (sudden) or chronic (lingering). In some cases, shoulder pain is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the pain.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Common causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Tendonitis: Inflammation of the tendons caused by activities that involve repeat motion, such as throwing a ball or lifting weights.
  • Frozen shoulder (also known as “adhesive capsulitis”): A condition characterized by stiffening of the joint due to pain and inflammation.
  • Rotator cuff tear: A tear in one of the four major muscles or tendons in the shoulder.
  • Arthritis: Inflammation of the joints that can cause pain and stiffness.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the shoulder.
  • Sprain/strain: Overstretching of the muscle or tendon.
  • Dislocated shoulder: When the top of the humerus becomes displaced from the shoulder socket.

Symptoms of Shoulder Pain

Symptoms of shoulder pain vary depending on the underlying cause. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the shoulder joint.
  • Difficulty raising the arm.
  • Reduced range of motion.
  • A dull or aching pain that radiates down the arm.
  • Stiffness or popping sensation in the shoulder.
  • Joint instability.
  • Swelling or tenderness in the shoulder.

Treatments for Shoulder Pain

Treatment of shoulder pain will depend on the underlying cause. Common treatments include:

  • Rest: Taking time off from activities that aggravate the shoulder.
  • Ice/heat: Using cold or hot packs to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Taking medicines such as ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Physical therapy exercises: Working with a physical therapist to perform exercises to strengthen the shoulder and improve mobility.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Injecting a steroid into the shoulder joint to reduce inflammation.
  • Surgery: In some cases, such as a severe rotator cuff tear, surgery may be necessary.

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, it’s best to consult a doctor to accurately diagnose the cause. Your doctor will be able to prescribe appropriate treatment to help reduce pain and improve mobility.