Shoulder pain is a common problem with a number of different causes. It’s often a symptom of another problem.

There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing shoulder pain, which include:

poor posture

frozen shoulder – a painful condition that reduces normal movement in the joint and can sometimes prevent movement in the shoulder altogether

rotator cuff disorders – the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and help to keep it stable

shoulder instability – where the shoulder is unstable and may have an unusually large range of movement (hypermobility)

acromioclavicular joint disorders – conditions, including osteoarthritis that affect the acromioclavicular joint, which is the joint at the top of the shoulder

osteoarthritis in the shoulder joints

a broken (fractured) bone, such as a fracture of the humerus (upper arm bone) or broken collarbone

In some cases, pain in the shoulder isn’t caused by a problem in the shoulder joint, but by a problem in another area, such as the neck, that is felt in the shoulder and upper back.

A number of factors and conditions can contribute to shoulder pain. The most prevalent cause is rotator cuff tendinitis. This is a condition characterized by inflamed tendons. Another common cause of shoulder pain is an impingement syndrome where the rotator cuff gets caught between the acromium (part of the scapula that covers the ball) and humeral head (the ball portion of the humerus).

Sometimes shoulder pain is the result of injury to another location in your body, usually the neck or bicep. This is known as referred pain. Referred pain generally doesn’t get worse when you move your shoulder.

Other causes of shoulder pain include several forms of arthritis, torn cartilage, or a torn rotator cuff. Swelling of the bursa sacs (which protect the shoulder) or tendons can also cause pain. Some people develop bone spurs, which are bony projections that develop along the edges of bones.

Pinching a nerve in the neck or shoulder, or breaking a shoulder or arm bone, are also causes of pain. A frozen shoulder is when tendons, ligaments, and muscles stiffen and become difficult or impossible to move. A dislocated shoulder is when the ball of the humerus pulls out of the shoulder socket. An injury due to overuse or repetitive use can cause injury.

Serious conditions such as a spinal cord injury or a heart attack may lead to shoulder pain.


Your doctor will want to find out the cause of your shoulder pain. They’ll obtain a history and do a physical examination. They’ll feel for tenderness and swelling, and will also assess your range of motion and joint stability. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, can produce detailed pictures of your shoulder to help with the diagnosis.

Your doctor may also ask questions to determine the cause. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

Is the pain in one shoulder or both?
Did this pain begin suddenly? If so, what were you doing?
Does the pain move to other areas of your body?
Can you pinpoint the area of pain?
Does it hurt when you’re not moving?
Does it hurt more when you move in certain ways?
Is it a sharp pain or a dull ache?
Has it been red, hot, or swollen?
Does it keep you awake at night?
What makes it worse and what makes it better?
Have you had to limit your activities because of your shoulder?


Avoid physical activity in general for at least a week until the pain diminishes.

Apply ice and leave it on for 15 minutes. Repeat this 3 to 6 times a day.

Massage the area to alleviate the pain.

Do exercises designed especially for this area as recommended by your doctor.

Therapy and physiotherapy are usually a great way of dealingwith this problem, but only if they have been recommended by a professional.

Don´t lift your shoulders under any circumstance. If you need to reach something on a high shelf, ask your family members for help.

Do this fantastic exercise: Place your shoulder against the corner of a wall or a door, placing a towel or some soft instrument in between to avoid pain. Gently stretch the shoulder in different directions, and don´t be afraid to gradually apply force, that is, little by little. You can do this twice a day, each time maintaining the pressure for 15 seconds.


Lift only the nearby objects.

Lift only the light objects.

Change your sitting posture, whether it is in the office or someplace else; keep in mind that if you feel that any position in particular is causing you inconvenience of any kind, it has to be for some good reason. Pay attention to what messages your body is sending you.

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