Shoulder Joint Pain


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The shoulder joint is a highly mobile joint that connects the upper arm bone (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). It is a ball-and-socket joint, allowing for a wide range of motion and facilitating movements in multiple directions.

To enhance stability, the shoulder joint incorporates several supporting structures. The joint capsule is a strong fibrous envelope that surrounds the joint providing stability and lubricates the joint. Ligaments reinforce the joint by connecting the humerus to the scapula. The rotator cuff encircles the joint and plays a crucial role in stabilizing and rotating the shoulder. Muscles around the shoulder joint contribute to its movements. Thanks to its structure and supporting components, the shoulder joint allows for a wide range of movements, making it one of the most flexible joints in the human body. However, this flexibility also makes the shoulder prone to certain injuries, such as dislocation, rotator cuff tears, and instability, which may require medical attention and rehabilitation.

It may hurt for many reasons, from injury and overuse to chronic conditions or diseases. You can injure your shoulder by performing manual labor, playing sports, or even by repetitive movement. Certain diseases can bring about pain that travels to the shoulder which include diseases of the cervical spine (neck), as well as liver, heart, or gallbladder disease. You’re more likely to have problems with your shoulder as you grow older as the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder tend to degenerate with age.

Shoulder Joint Pain

Causes & Symptoms

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The most prevalent cause of shoulder pain is due to issues in the rotator cuff (Torn, Swollen etc). Sometimes shoulder pain is the result of injury to another location in your body, usually the neck or biceps.

Other causes of shoulder pain include:

  • arthritis
  • torn cartilage
  • swollen bursa sacs or tendons
  • bone spurs (bony projections that develop along the edges of bones)
  • pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder
  • broken shoulder or arm bone
  • frozen shoulder
  • dislocated shoulder
  • injury due to overuse or repetitive use
  • spinal cord injury
  • heart attack

Specific symptoms of shoulder pain experienced may vary depending on the underlying cause. It's important to note that these symptoms are general in nature and a proper diagnosis is crucial for determining the underlying cause of shoulder pain and developing an appropriate treatment plan. Some common symptoms associated with shoulder pain include:

  • Discomfort or pain in the shoulder region
  • Limited range of motion
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Clicking or popping sensation
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty in sleeping


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The treatment options for shoulder pain depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some common approaches to managing shoulder pain:

  • Rest and Activity Modification: Resting the shoulder and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a specific exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint, improve range of motion, and promote stability.
  • Pain Medication: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce pain and inflammation and can be prescribed
  • RICE Therapy: Resting the shoulder, applying ice packs to reduce inflammation, using compression bandages or wraps, and elevating the arm can help alleviate pain and swelling.
  • Steroid Injections: In cases of severe inflammation or conditions like shoulder impingement, corticosteroid injections might be administered directly into the shoulder joint to provide temporary pain relief and reduce inflammation.
  • Assistive Devices: Depending on the specific condition, using assistive devices such as slings, braces, or immobilizers can help support the shoulder joint, promote healing, and reduce pain.
  • Surgery: If conservative treatments fail to alleviate shoulder pain, surgery may be considered. Surgical options vary depending on the underlying cause and can range from arthroscopic procedures to repair damaged structures (such as rotator cuff tears) to joint replacement surgery in cases of severe arthritis.
  • Factors such as the cause, severity, and individual circumstances will be considered to determine accurate diagnosis and the most suitable treatment options for your shoulder pain.