The Most Common Causes Of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any other joint in the body. It’s no wonder there are a variety of possibilities for shoulder pain. But there is a common denominator in shoulder pain.

The Rotator Cuff. Shoulder Joint Rotator Cuff Picture

This joint is made up of tendons that hold it together. This allows for its large range of motion and for the possibilities for injury or other sources of pain.

Tendonitis is a common source of shoulder pain and like other joints, can be caused by simple overuse of the joint. That being use past the point of its maximum resilience. In sports this happens very frequently with golfers with the dynamic swing that looks smooth to spectators.

In reality it is causing significant disturbance to the interior of the shoulder. This condition is also common in tennis players, swimmers, racquetball players and others whose activity requires a wide, straining range of motion in the shoulder.

Tendonitis is a condition that causes sharp or steady pain due to inflammation. It is generally relieved and cured by simple rest followed by mild strengthening exercises. Recovery takes a few weeks.

Another, more severe cause of pain is a shoulder tendon tear. This comes as an immediate result of a hard pull against the tendon stretching it beyond its limit. It is common in weightlifting, football, martial arts and other sports where hard force is exerted by the shoulder.

I suffered a shoulder tendon tear lifting weights, bench pressing, 21 years before this article was written. It was horribly painful and debilitating for months. I still feel the pinch of the injury when I lift weights or otherwise put pressure on my left front shoulder.

Treatment for this should be the immediate application of ice periodically throughout the first few days. The area should be rested. Pain varies based on the severity of the tear from light to complete. A large tear may take several months to fully recover from.

Dislocated Shoulder
With the shoulder being a ball and socket joint, dislocation is an injury most people are at least familiar with. A shoulder dislocation is caused when through a jarring impact, the round bulbous ball of the shoulder to come out of the socket. This can be both debilitating and momentarily horrifying.

Dislocated Shoulder PictureWhen I dislocated my shoulder in my early 30s, it was from falling on a meat cooler floor wrestling with a young man. When I got off the floor, my right arm would not lower further down than shoulder level. The ball was clearly visible beneath my skin, having slipped out of the socket.

I got it back in place by holding on to a meat rack and letting the other guy pull my arm till the ball reseated in the socket. Not recommended, but it worked that day. It also resulted in several weeks of intense soreness and pain. I still can’t throw anything normally without warming up for 10 minutes or longer.

A separated shoulder results from one of the tendons holding the clavical to the shoulder blade  stretched to the point of strain or tearing. This is usually quite painful but not as serioius as a dislocated shoulder.

Shoulder Separation Injury PictureA separated shoulder results in pain when moving your arm across your body, weakness, bruising, swelling limited movement. Any or all of these symptoms may be present.

A separated shoulder generally only requires home conservative home treatment such as rest, ice, pain relievers. This is while the shoulder is recovering from the initial injury. As time goes on and the shoulder pain begins to subside, mild recovery exercises may be incorporated to strengthen it.

Full recovery from a separated shoulder generally takes a few weeks.  For shoulder joint restoration after injury or other condition, see the article on the best shoulder impingement exercises.

AC joint stretching or tears in the tendons are another source of injury that can be anywhere from simply painful to debilitating. This is commonly known as AC Separation. It is most often caused by falls. Bikers and skiers often experience this injury from accidents.

As you can see, there are numerous causes of shoulder pain and an innumerable number of ways they can occur. Some are mild, others serious, sometimes either within one injury.

But no matter what the injury, how severe, or what course of treatment is taken, a visit to the doctor is the only way to define the injury for clear direction.

Always see your physician for diagnosis and course of treatment.

I don’t, but you should.