Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common complaint of many people. There are a number of things that could be causing this horrible pain. Depending on the location of this pain and the severity, your options vary with regards to treatment and identifying the problem. Here are seven issues that may be causing your discomfort or pain.

  1. Shoulder separation- This type of separation is also known as an AC (acromioclavicular) separation. The area between the shoulder and the collarbone contains a soft tissue ligament that may have been injured.
  2. Frozen shoulder- This is a common situation for many people who experience shoulder pain. Also medically known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is said to be one of the most painful of shoulder pains.
  3. Shoulder Dislocation- Often confused with shoulder separation, shoulder dislocation is when injury or trauma occurs when your humerus which is located at your arm bone, disconnects with the socket of the scapula, or shoulder blade.
  4. Arthritis- Although arthritis in the shoulder is not as common as in other areas of your body, it is just as serious, if not, more so. In some instances the replacement of the joint may be necessary.
  5. Tendonitis-This is the inflammation of a tendon and the ligaments around it. Tendonitis usually affects the rotator cuff.
  6. Shoulder Instability- This occurs when the area around the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint is not working by keeping the ball in its socket.
  7. Bursitis- This occurs when a bursal sac becomes inflamed. The bursa is filled with fluid that lets motion between the bone of the shoulder and the solid tendon that passes over the bone.


Shoulder separation usually begins with pain at the top of your shoulder and bruising or swelling may be apparent. You may also experience some tenderness between the collarbone and shoulder. The symptoms of frozen shoulder are undeniable. You arm and shoulder feels as though they are stuck, and you are unable to move them. You may also feel stiffness, experience limited mobility of the arm and shoulder, and also reaching up behind your back.
Shoulder Pain Symptoms
A good indication to distinguish if you have a shoulder dislocation is if your arm is hanging slightly away from your body and your forearm turned outward, these is because the dislocation usually occurs in the front part of the shoulder.


Arthritis, which is inflammation to your joints, may come with swelling and stiffness as with most shoulder pains. You may also feel the same pain and stiffness in your neck, as both areas become affected. The pain can be anything from feeling a burning sensation, to feeling stabbing pains.

Identifying Tendonitis

There are several factors that you can use to identify tendonitis. One is pain that gets progressively worse as you use the motion of your arm. You will also notice swelling and tenderness, and the sound of what appears to be your shoulder cracking.

Symptoms of shoulder instability may include the feeling as if your joint is loose in your shoulder, and numbness and weakness in your arm or shoulder. You may also feel as if your shoulder is popping in and out of the socket.

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Bursitis can be detected by many different factors:

  • Shoulder pain at night, particularly when lying on the shoulder that is affected.
  • Stiffness after shoulder exercises.
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling around the tendon.
  • Weakness with raising your arm above your head.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that are involved with shoulder pain. Usually athletes or people who are involved in strenuous physical activity often experience shoulder pain. This type of injury is very common among football players due to the fact that the shoulder is used often times to try and block an opponent. People who have constant competitive motion with the same arm over long periods of time are also susceptible to many of these shoulder issues, including factory or production workers.

Posture may also have something to do with many painful disorders. It is believes that standing for long periods of time with your shoulders rounded may have more to do with shoulder pain than was first believed.

Arthritis usually comes with age, this is due to the fact that cartilage becomes more fragile and unable to repair itself as quickly as it use to. Also people who are prone to joint infections are at risk for developing arthritis.

There are two congenital conditions that may contribute to shoulder instability.

  • Marfan syndrome —Marfan syndrome is not a very common disorder. It creates an abnormality in the body’s connective tissue. This tissue holds the body together and many of the structures that keep your body moving.
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome — Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a connective tissue disorder. This condition causes patients to have loose joints.


There are many exercises that can be performed to help and strengthen the shoulder. These exercises are highly recommended to reduce or prevent any shoulder injuries. One of these exercises is the Pendulum swing; this is very simple and can be done anywhere. You simply stand and lean over with arm dangling. Then begin swinging your arm in small circles and progressively enlarge the size of the circles.

A good idea is to also stretch your rotator cuff. While sitting or standing you are going to want to bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle, make sure that you keep your elbow as close to your body as possible, then slowly lower your arms so that they are pointed forward and are parallel to the floor, with your thumbs pointing up. Move your hands slowly away from your body until you can feel your shoulder stretching, and hold each stretch for 25-30 seconds and repeat several times.

Unlike many shoulder pains or injuries, tendonitis is a condition can be prevented by following a few easy steps:

  • Always stretch or warm up before sports or other vigorous physical activities.
  • Do not over exert yourself during exercise, once you feel pain, STOP
  • Sit with proper posture and use proper ergonomics

As with tendonitis, you can also take steps toward preventing Bursitis with the correct conditioning. Prevention is the best treatment for this ailment. You are going to want to include upper body strength training and upper body flexibility training, this is crucial in preventing further injuries such to the shoulder.

Tests & Diagnostics

Most shoulder injuries can be detected by your doctor though x-rays, CT scans or MRI’s. The process is very simple. You will stand and have several photos taken of your shoulder and neck region and may have to hold or lift weights to detect the effected areas.

Home Treatment Options

You are going to want to apply ice to your shoulder within 48 hours of injury to keep the swelling at bay. You can add heat after that time frame to speed up recovery time. You can alternate by applying the ice pack for 15 minutes and then the heat for 15 minutes, and repeat. You are also going to want to keep your shoulder immobilized to prevent further damage to the affected area.

Herbal Treatment Options

There are also herbal treatments that are said to provide relief to your sore shoulder as well. You can apply fresh crushed mint leaves to your shoulder where you are experiencing the pain. The mint acts as a coolant and is said to be a very efficient cure for shoulder pain. An herbal balm may also be applied to the area which usually provides relief within two or three days.

Pharmaceutical Options

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are excellent options that act as an anti-inflammatory to help with the swelling of many injuries to the shoulder. Often supplements are used to rebuild your worn joints, lubricate stiff joints, and soothe swollen joints.

For bursitis, inflammation can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Motrin. These types of medications can be effective treatments for your shoulder bursitis, but also come with some slight risks include an upset stomach and bleeding issues.

Surgical Options

If after speaking with your doctor it is determined that the separation is more of a rupture of your ligament, you may have to have orthopedic surgery. Physical therapy may be required after your surgical procedure to regain motion properly in your shoulder. Cortisone injections are also another method of treatment for shoulder pain such as frozen shoulder and tendonitis. Although these injections do provide temporary relief, unfortunately they don’t get rid of the problem entirely.
Shoulder Pain Surgery Options
Surgery with a shoulder dislocation is usually not needed. You may be provided with anesthesia while the doctor attempts to maneuver the shoulder and get the shoulder back into place.

Surgery for Arthritis and Tendonitis

If severe enough Arthritis may require surgical intervention. A shoulder replacement may be needed to ease pain and swelling. During this procedure the ball from the top of the humerus is removed and replaced with an implant. This is then connected to a stem inserted through the center of your arm bone. It is then shaved down and replaced with a plastic molded socket that is attached to the scapula. You do run the risk of infection with this and any surgical procedure.

Surgery for tendonitis is only used as a last resort method of treatment. There are two surgical methods used to perform these procedures. The first is arthroscopic, which is less invasive. A small incision is made and the equipment and tools are inserted. The other method is an open procedure. The open procedure entails a much larger incision and the recovery time can be much longer.

Surgical intervention may be used as a last resort for shoulder instability, in the event that rehabilitation has not worked. Doctors will tightening the shoulder capsule and repair the tissue that has been damaged, shoulder stability can be enhanced. The prediction for use of the shoulder after surgery is typically fine.

Surgery for Bursitis

It is highly unlikely that surgery is needed to treat bursitis. Your doctor may recommend treating your bursitis with some steroid drug injections. The injections of cortisone will reduce inflammation of the shoulder tendonitis and can also assist in easing some of your pain. On the other hand, this method of treatment for shoulder bursitis should be used with the utmost of caution, due to the fact that repeated injections may weaken the tendon or cause detrimental side effects.


In conclusion, there are many ways that you can try and prevent a shoulder injury, and prevention is the most effective tool you can use. By practicing safe and proper exercise techniques, and stretching your neck and shoulders, will increase your flexibility and decrease your risk for injury. Getting an adequate amount of rest after vigorous activities will also lessen your chances of shoulder pain.

In the event that you do experience shoulder pain, immediately apply ice, immobilize, and begin taking an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, or try an all natural herbal balm and apply to the area which has the pain. If your shoulder pain persists, contact your doctor or medical professional.

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  • Reply Nancy K

    Can you give me the name of a natural product or cream to use on the pain in my shoulder and arm please?

  • Reply DongRae Park

    I would also like to mention that receiving acupuncture treatment while doing the home remedies are very effecting relieving severe shoulder pain. Generally, shoulder pain is hard to control because the shoulder joint is the most complex joint in the human body. The many muscles surrounding the shoulder make treating shoulder pain a complex task. Due to its shallow joint structure, the shoulder is the only joint that can rotate a full 360 degrees. However, the shallow joint can only handle so much weight, in comparison to the weight capacity of the adjoining socket. The difference between the capacity of the socket and the joint is the reason that the shoulder is so easy to dislocate.

    The neck muscles, arm muscles, and the muscles on the upper torso are joined at the shoulder. They must all work together to keep the joint healthy and strong. If any one of the neighboring muscles is injured, it can indirectly cause shoulder pain. The injured muscle puts tension on the shoulder, straining the joint and producing pain.

    Thus, shoulder pain means that one or several of the muscles mentioned above are out of balance. More information on shoulder joint pain and treatment of shoulder joint pain can be found at

  • Reply Olori Williams

    The information contained is quite educative.The way the standard 15″laptop is designed places a lot of strain on the neck and shoulders while reading or browsing.I believe this may be the source of my neck and shoulder pain.Manufacturers should consider this in their design

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