Shoulder Pain – Causes and Pain Management

Shoulder pain is one of the most common types of pain that people experience. It can be caused by a variety of things, including injury, arthritis, and rotator cuff problems. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for shoulder pain, and most cases can be successfully managed with a combination of therapies. In this article, we will discuss the causes and treatment of shoulder pain. We will also provide tips for managing shoulder pain on a daily basis.

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How Does Your Shoulder Work?

shoulder pain

Two joints are found on your shoulders, which make them one of the most flexible parts of your body. The glenohumeral joint, which is the main shoulder joint, is a ball-and-socket joint. This is because the humerus, the top of your upper arm bone, is shaped like an oval ball. The socket is where the ball fits, and your shoulder has a large range of motion.

The shoulder socket is smaller than other ball-and-socket joints like the hip. It is held together by a cover of muscles that are attached to the bones with strong cords called tendons.

These muscles and tendons form a capsule around the joint, supporting its movement. However, they can also make it more likely for it to become dislocated than other joints.

The synovium is located inside the capsule. It produces fluid that lubricates and maintains the cartilage’s health. The cartilage protects your bones from impact and prevents them from rubbing together.

The collar bone meets the smaller joint above the main shoulder joint – the Acromion.

This joint is also known as the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. This allows the larger joint below to move freely, especially when you are lifting your arm, lifting, or throwing.


What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Shoulder Pain?

Random shoulder pain may be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis or bursitis. Shoulder pain can also occur after a minor injury that doesn’t require immediate medical attention. Shoulder pain is often the result of tendinitis (an inflammation of the tendon), which connects muscle to bone around the shoulder joint. Shoulders are susceptible to overuse injuries, which can be caused by repetitive movements or excessive strain.

Other causes of shoulder pain include:

Shoulder Dislocation

Your shoulder might become dislocated if it is pulled too hard back or rotated too much. Your shoulder will feel tender and weak. There may be swelling, numbness, and bruising.


If you fall or take a strong hit, a bone may break or crack. The most common fractures are to the clavicle, or collarbone, and the humerus (arm bone nearest to your shoulder). It will be in pain and may bruise. Broken collarbones can cause your shoulder to sag, and your arm may not be able to lift.

Shoulder Separation

This injury occurs at the joint between your shoulder blade and collarbone. It is also known as the acromioclavicular joint (AC). It is damaged by a fall or a hard blow. A bump on your shoulder will appear if your collarbone is pushed out of its place.

Cartilage Tear

The cartilage, the rubbery padding that wraps around your shoulder joint’s rim, can be damaged. You can injure the cartilage by repeating the same motion repeatedly. It can also be injured by falling or when your shoulder absorbs too much force. This type of injury can cause pain in the shoulder when you reach above your head and make your shoulder feel weak. You might feel it catching, locking, grinding, or catching.

Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder can restrict the movement of your shoulder joint. Your shoulder may become stiff and restricted by abnormal tissue bands (adhesions). Because of pain or surgery, your shoulder may “freeze” and you have allowed the adhesions to build up.

Rotator Cuff Tears

This is the area of muscle and tendons that holds your arm straight and allows you to lift your arm above your head. It can be damaged by overuse or a fall. As you get older, it begins to show signs of wear. When you have a rotator cuff tear, it may hurt when you lift heavy objects or at night. It is possible to hear a crackling sound as you try to move the item.


Impingement occurs when the tendons from the rotator wrist become pinched in the bones. This can lead to swelling and pain. It can cause swelling if you raise your arms above your head often.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis or Bursitis

Bursitis or otherwise called rotator cuff tendinitis can occur when you repeat the same motions. It can also be caused by a fall or other injury. Bursitis can be felt most strongly when your shoulder is moved.

Other Causes

Most shoulder problems are limited in their impact and should resolve quickly. Sometimes, however, the problem in your shoulder could also be a sign of a more serious, long-term condition like osteoarthritis, polymyalgia, or polymyalgia rheumatica. People with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to experience pain and swelling in the shoulders. Osteoarthritis will not affect your shoulders more than other joints unless you have previously injured them.

Shoulder pain may be caused by many other factors. For example:

  • Inflammation is a condition where the shoulder becomes red and hot. This happens as a result of an injury or infection.
  • Damage to the muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder
  • Tension in the muscles between your neck and shoulder is due to tension. This is often related to the way you sit or stand when using a computer at work or at home.
  • Inflammation in the bursa, is a fluid-filled sac or cushion that helps muscles and tendons glide smoothly over the shoulders.
  • Arthritis can cause damage to the bones or cartilage.
  • You may also feel pain in your shoulder due to a problem elsewhere in your body.

A problem in the neck can cause pain in the upper arm or shoulder blade. This can be called referred pain and/or radiated pain, which are both terms used to describe this condition. It’s possible that you have a problem with your neck if you feel a tingling sensation in the hand or arm as well as pain in the shoulder.

Shoulder Pain Management

People would rather prevent shoulder pain from occurring than having to treat shoulder pain. But, it can happen especially when it’s from an underlying condition. Arthritis pain is an example of this.


Paracetamol or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used in helping shoulder pain.

Your pharmacist will be able to give you sound advice about the best treatment for your condition. However, you should not use anti-inflammatory medicine for longer than two weeks before seeking medical advice.

Practice Good Posture

Poor shoulder posture and bad work habits can lead to shoulder problems.

These are some tips to try:

• Avoid leaning forward while sitting down and relying too heavily on your arms.
• Let your arms rest at your sides as you relax your shoulders.
• You should change your position frequently.
• Place your feet on the ground.
• To improve your upper body posture, support your lower back by using a cushion, pillow, or chair with lumbar support.
• Keep your arm supported and comfortable if it is very sore.

To practice holding your shoulder blades back and down, use a mirror. Focus on your shoulder blades while you imagine your chest being still and then pulling the blades towards one another.

Try these suggestions if your shoulder hurts when you lie down.

• Place a pillow on your back and lie down on your stomach.
• Use a folded pillow to support your arm pain in front of you
• To stop you from rolling onto your side, place another pillow behind your back
• If you prefer to rest on your back, place one or two pillows underneath your injured arm.

Heat and Cold Therapy

If your shoulder hurts from minor injuries or is swollen, an ice pack might be helpful.

To protect your skin, you can wrap a bag of frozen beans in a towel. It should be left in place for no more than 20 minutes.

Heat packs are another option, especially if you feel your shoulders hurting.

Reusable heat pads are available at sports shops and chemists. You could also use a microwaveable wheat bag, or a hot water bottle to wrap the area. This can be used for as long as 20 minutes.

Reduce Physical Strain

It’s best to continue with your usual activities, but not too much. It may be necessary to take things slower than normal and to do more each day.

You can perform some tasks differently so that you don’t injure your shoulder.

At home:

  • Keep your upper body straight and the vacuum near your body when vacuuming. Use short, sweeping movements.
  • Iron only essential items and ensure that the ironing board is at your waist height
  • To transport shopping, you can use a trolley or backpack. You could also divide the weight and have one bag in each hand. You can also use long strap bags and cross the straps over your body, from shoulder to hip. It is important to distribute the weight of what you need.
  • Ask friends who own cars if you could ask them if they would be willing to add anything heavy to your shopping list.
  • For heavy or bulky items, use a delivery service.
  • You should limit the time that you spend looking at your mobile phone or tablet. To reduce neck strain, use a standing desk or a table.
  • You should allow yourself enough time to complete tasks that require you to raise your arms or move in sweeping motions. Seek help if you need it. You should take frequent breaks and switch between tasks and positions.

At work:

  • When you are standing or sitting, keep your posture straight. Do not hold your neck in a fixed or twisted position.
  • You should stand or sit at a workstation such as a desk, workbench, or other workstation. Instead, get up and move around. To prevent stiffness and soreness in your neck and shoulders, you can gently move them through their full range of motion.
  • Keep the keyboard and monitor in front of you when you are using a computer. This will ensure that you don’t have any need to move your head or twist your body. You won’t need to reach for the mouse if you have it close at hand.
  • You can keep your job in a good place by having a chair that is comfortable and adjusts to your needs. Your manager or occupational health advisor could help you.
  • Don’t touch the receiver with your shoulder when you use the phone. You might want to consider wearing a headset if you are on the phone frequently.
  • Do not do any manual work that causes pain while you are doing it.

Exercise and Rest

Even if you feel like you aren’t capable of doing much, it’s important that you keep moving. Your shoulder should not become stiff if you find a balance between activity and rest. These exercises might be helpful for your shoulders.

Avoid movements that are really painful. It can be painful to raise your arm over your shoulder or hold it back from your body. Here are exercise tips that can help you reduce shoulder pain.

• You can decrease the strain on your shoulder if you need to raise your arm.
• Keep your elbow bent and to the side of your body.
• Make sure your palm faces the ceiling when reaching up.
• Lower your arm by bending your elbow and bringing your hand closer to your body.
• After applying ice to your shoulder or taking painkillers, you may find that it is more comfortable to exercise. Wrap ice in a damp towel to avoid skin irritation.

It’s also important to learn and perform exercises that can stretch your rotator cuff tendons. But be careful and don’t overdo it, overusing your muscles can affect your bicep muscles and can lead to a torn rotator cuff. It’s best to exercise and rest regularly and accordingly.

When Should You Contact a Medical Professional?

Sudden left-sided pain in the shoulder can be a sign that you have a heart attack. If you feel sudden pressure or crushing pain in the shoulder, call 911 immediately. This is especially true if it runs from your chest down to your left jaw, arm, neck, or head.

If you are suffering from severe injuries to your shoulder, and it is extremely painful, swollen, or bleeding, go to the emergency department.

Here are some symptoms to look out for when shoulder pain occurs suddenly:

• Redness, fever, or swelling in the shoulders can cause shoulder pain
• Shoulder problem
• Even after home treatment, pain persists for up to four weeks.
• The shoulder swelling
• The skin around the shoulder region can be either red or blue.

Feel free to call your doctor if you have any concerns with your shoulder. You might find out that you need physical therapy, some blood or imaging tests, or if it’s serious maybe even orthopaedic surgery.

Get Shoulder Pain Relief Today

If you’ve been experiencing any type of shoulder pain, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that your condition doesn’t get worse and develop into something more serious. A chiropractor can help with many types of problems including chronic neck and back pain as well as a range of other issues such as lower back injuries or sciatica. Shoulder pain relief may be just one visit away. Give our team a call today for an appointment so we can determine what’s causing your problem and provide some solutions on how best to address it. We look forward to hearing from you soon.