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Causes of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a rather common symptom which can be caused either by an intrinsic shoulder issue, or by other clinical diagnoses that cause the pain to radiate towards the shoulder. The shoulder has an incredibly versatile range of motion, but when the bones, muscles or ligaments in the area become inflamed or otherwise injured, a great deal of pain can be experienced and the ability to move it freely can be impeded.

Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain are:

Tendon inflammation. An irritation or inflammation of the tendons, commonly known as tendinitis, can affect the tendons and muscles that help move the shoulder joint. This condition, medically known as rotator cuff tendinitis, is extremely common amongst athletes that play sports requiring their arm to extend over their head, which is why the condition is also known as swimmer’s shoulder, pitcher’s shoulder or tennis shoulder.

Bursitis.  An inflammation of the bursae, or fluid-filled sacs located where the tendons, skin and muscle tissues meet the bones, can cause pain and discomfort in the shoulder and limit the movement in your joints. Bursitis can also cause swelling or reddening.

Arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis affecting the shoulder area,  is caused by a deterioration of the cartilage that covers the shoulder joint. Repeated motion can damage the protective tissue, increasing friction between the bones. If not repaired, this can cause damage to the bone as well.

Frozen Shoulder. A thickening, swelling and tightening of the tissue surrounding the shoulder joint reduces the space for your humerus in the shoulder joint, which can cause painful stiffness and difficulty in moving your shoulder within its normal range of motion.

Instability. Caused by either a sudden injury or repeated use, the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, either fully or partially, resulting in extreme pain. Once the ligaments, tendons and muscles around your shoulder become loose or torn, dislocations may become recurring whenever you move your arm away of your body or raise it above your head.

Fracture. Shoulder fractures typically involve either the clavicle, the humerus or the shoulder blade. They can be caused either by a fall, a high energy injury, like a car accident, or a contact sport. Fractures can cause acute pain, swelling and/or bruising of the shoulder area.

Impingement. When you lift your arm away from your body, the top of the shoulder blade may exert pressure over the soft tissue, causing it to rub against the tendons and bursae, causing pain and limiting movement.

Pinched nerve. With age, your upper spine vertebrae may become compressed and the discs may become thinner. To strengthen them, bone spurs may grow around the discs, but this new growth can apply pressure on the nerve root, effectively “pinching” it.