Shoulder Pain

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a large range of movement. Joints like these tend to be more liable to injury. Shoulder pain can result from one or more of these causes:

  • Strains from overexertion
  • Tendonitis from overuse
  • Instability of the shoulder joint.
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures of the collar bone or upper arm bone
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Pinched nerves (also called radiculopathy)

How is Shoulder Pain Treated?

Treatment of soft tissue neck and shoulder pain requires the use of anti-inflammatory medicines (such as Aleve or Motrin) and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Depending on the source of the pain, drugs like muscle relaxers and even antidepressants could help. Painful tissues can also benefit from applying moist heat or ice. Corticosteroid injections at the site of the pain are often useful for arthritis of the shoulder. For both neck and shoulder pains exercises involving movements may help. For those cases where nerve roots or the spinal cord are involved, surgery may be needed.


Shoulder pain is a very common complaint, and there are many typical causes of the problem. It is vital to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be applied. If you have shoulder pain, some common causes will be:

  • The commonest diagnosis for patients with shoulder pain is bursitis or tendonitis of the rotator cuff.
  • Rotator cuff tears happen when the tendons of the rotator cuff separate from the bone. Surgery is sometimes required for this.
  • This is also called 'adhesive capsulitis; this is a common problem that leads to joint stiffness. Physical therapy and stretching are very important aspects of treatment.
  • Calcific tendonitis is where there are calcium deposits inside a tendon - most commonly inside the rotator cuff tendons. Treatment depends on the extent of symptoms.
  • Instability is a problem involving a loose joint. It can be caused by a traumatic injury (dislocation), or may be a developed condition over time.
  • A dislocation is an injury where the top of the arm bone becomes disconnected from the scapula.
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