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Shoulder Pain: Why Does My Shoulder Hurt?

The shoulder has a wide and varied range of motion. When something goes wrong with your shoulder, you lose your ability to move freely and experience a tremendous lot of pain and discomfort.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of the humerus (long arm bone), clavicle (collarbone), and scapula (shoulder blade) (also known as the shoulder blade).

A layer of cartilage cushions these bones. There are two major joints in the body. Between the highest part of the scapula and the clavicle is the acromioclavicular joint.

The glenohumeral joint is formed by the upper, ball-shaped portion of the humerus bone and the outside edge of the scapula. The shoulder joint is another name for this joint.

The shoulder joint has the most range of motion of any joint in the body. It allows you to move your shoulder forward and backward. It also allows you to move your arm in a circular motion as well as up and away from your torso.

A shoulder range of motion is provided by the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons. Tendons are bands of connective tissue that run between muscles and bones. If the tendons or bones surrounding the rotator cuff are injured or inflamed, lifting your arm above your head may be painful or difficult.

Manual labor, sports, and even repetitive movement can all cause shoulder injury. Discomfort in the shoulder can be caused by a variety of conditions. These include problems with the cervical spine (neck), as well as liver, heart, and gallbladder disease.

Your chances of developing shoulder problems increase as you get older, especially around the age of 60. This is because the soft tissues that surround the shoulder deteriorate with age.

Shoulder pain can usually be treated at home. On the other hand, physical therapy, medications, or surgery may be required.

Here's everything you need to know about shoulder pain, including what causes it, how to diagnose it, how to treat it, and how to avoid it.


A range of conditions and disorders can result in shoulder pain. The most prevalent source is rotator cuff tendinitis.

Swollen tendons are a defining feature of this illness. The rotator cuff becomes caught between the acromion (the part of the scapula that covers the ball) and the humeral head, resulting in impingement syndrome (the ball portion of the humerus).

An injury to another portion of the body, most commonly the neck or biceps, can sometimes produce shoulder pain. This is known as "referred pain." When you move your shoulder, referred pain normally doesn't get worse.

The following are other causes of shoulder pain:

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

What are the methods for determining the source of shoulder pain?

Your doctor will want to know what is causing your shoulder pain. They will ask for your medical history and perform a physical examination.

They will examine you for soreness and swelling, as well as your range of motion and joint stability. Imaging procedures, such as an X-ray or an MRI, can provide comprehensive images of your shoulder, which can aid in diagnosis.

In order to discover the cause, your doctor may also ask you questions. Among the possible questions are:

  • Is the ache in one or both shoulders?
  • Did this pain begin suddenly? If so, what were you doing?
  • Does the discomfort spread throughout your body?
  • Are you able to pinpoint the source of your pain?
  • Does it hurt if you don't move?
  • Is it more painful if you move in certain ways?
  • Is it a sharp or a dull ache that you're experiencing?
  • Is the painful area red, hot, or swollen?
  • Is your pain keeping you up at night?
  • What causes it to get worse, and what causes it to get better?
  • Have you had to cut back on your activities due to shoulder pain?

When should I seek medical help?

If you have a fever, are unable to move your shoulder, have persistent bruising, heat, and tenderness around the joint, or have pain that persists after a few weeks of home treatment, you should see a doctor.

Call 911 right away if your shoulder pain is sudden and not related to an injury. It could be an indication of a heart attack. Other symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • breathing problems
  • chest tightness
  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • neck pain or jaw pain

If you have a shoulder injury that is bleeding, swollen, or exposed tissue, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What are the options for shoulder pain treatment?

The type and severity of treatment will be determined by the cause and severity of the shoulder pain. Treatment options include physical therapy, a sling or shoulder immobilizer, and surgery.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids may also be prescribed by your doctor. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that your doctor can prescribe or inject into your shoulder.

If you've had shoulder surgery, make sure you follow the after-care instructions to the letter.

In some cases, minor shoulder pain can be treated at home. Ice the shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times a day for several days can help relieve pain. Use an ice bag or wrap ice in a towel instead of putting it directly on your skin, which can cause frostbite and burns.

It may be beneficial to rest the shoulder for several days before returning to normal activity and to avoid any movements that may cause pain. Work or activities that require a lot of overhead should be avoided.

Other home remedies include taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to help with pain and inflammation, as well as compressing the area with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling.

How can I prevent shoulder pain?

Simple shoulder exercises can stretch and strengthen muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff. You can learn how to do them properly with the help of a physical therapist or occupational therapist.

If you've ever had shoulder pain, ice for 15 minutes after your workout to prevent additional injury.

Simple range-of-motion exercises performed every day after bursitis or tendinitis can help prevent frozen shoulder.

For Buffalo Grove shoulder pain physical therapy, you can trust us to deliver the desired results with fewer visits. Contact us at (847) 262-9028 today and set up an initial appointment.

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+1 847-378-4970
1300 Busch Pkwy, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
+1 847-378-4970
1300 Busch Pkwy, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

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