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Shoulder Pain - 3 Factors That Account For It!

Written and reviewed by
MS - Orthopaedics, Fellow In arthroscopy
Orthopedic Doctor, Ahmedabad  •  14 years experience
Shoulder Pain - 3 Factors That Account For It!

A person’s shoulder is the most mobile joint in his body as it is a ball-and-socket joint. This ball-and-socket joint make for most of the movements of all other types of joints in our bodies but one has to pay a price for this mobility. Problems might arise through impingement of the soft tissue or areas having bones in one’s shoulder, leading to pain. Impingement happens when top of the shoulder blade puts pressure on the soft tissues underneath, as and when the arm gets lifted from the body.

Symptoms of shoulder pain

Before the shoulder pain actually kicks in, the body starts giving signals through certain symptoms. The symptoms include:

Neck Pain: Generally the pain starts to develop from the neck, where an individual might go through a period of intense pain and gradually come down to the shoulder causing discomfort.

Muscle Cramps: People might feel that their muscles are getting cramped, hence restricting their free movements. These cramps tend to have adverse effects on a person’s shoulder, resulting in tremendous pain.


There are a number of factors and certain conditions that can contribute to shoulder pain. The most common among these is rotator cuff tendinitis. Some of the other causes are described below:

  1. Injury In Another Location Of The Body: Injury in some other location, having some sort of connection with the shoulder such as neck or bicep can result in the person suffering from shoulder pain. This is known as referred pain. One good thing about this referred pain is that it does not get worse with movement of the shoulder.
  2. Different Forms Of Arthritis: Shoulder pain may well be caused as a result of the different forms of arthritis, when people tend to suffer from either osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia.
  3. Breaking A Bone Or Pinching A Nerve: Nerve pinching or breaking a arm or shoulder bone can also cause tremendous amount of pain in the shoulder.

How are the causes of pain diagnosed?

Generally when a person goes to show a doctor because of shoulder pain, the doctor would want to find out the exact reason behind the problem and then go ahead with the treatment. He would physically feel for tenderness and swelling, assess the amount of movement which a person is able to do and then determine how stable is the joint. After the physical examination, the doctor would go for tests such as X-ray or MRI in order to get the detailed pictures of the shoulder.

Treatment options:

According to the cause and severity of the pain, a doctor would treat a patient by giving him nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, a sling or shoulder immobilizer or ask him to go for surgery. Minor pain in the shoulder can be treated at home by applying ice on the area for 15 minutes three to four times a day for some days, to get relief from pain. Application of ice should be through an ice bag or by wrapping ice in a towel as direct application might cause frostbite.

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