Why Do My Shoulders Hurt?

Shoulder pain may be described or presented in various ways. It is brought about by a wide variety of causes, but it is thought that shoulder overuse and degeneration of the tendons, joints and ligaments that stabilize the shoulder are the most common causes of shoulder pain.

Though the causes vary, it is for certain that the pain signals that something not right is occurring in one of its structures. It is essential that the cause of the pain is accurately determined in order to create the most appropriate treatment regimen for your shoulder.

The following conditions are the typical causes of shoulder pain:


This is the most common diagnosis in patients who complain of shoulder pain. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions and functions as a lubricating surface, minimizing the friction between the bones and the tendons during shoulder movements.

It commonly occurs with rotator cuff tendinitis. Bursitis is usually caused by shoulder overuse or by an underlying medical condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis.


The tendon is a fibrous cord that connects the muscles to the bones. Tendinitis of the shoulder, most especially the ones involving the rotator cuff, commonly results from degeneration or a wear and tear process that continuously takes place for a long period of time. It can also occur from shoulder overuse, such as excessive ball throwing.


The shoulder is vulnerable to various injuries because of the way it is designed. It consists of joints that are loosely attached by the ligaments, which further increases the risk for shoulder instability, where the joints are forced out of their normal positions during trauma.

Contact sports-related injuries, most especially the ones that involve falls often result in shoulder dislocation. Almost 95% of shoulder dislocations involve the disconnection of the upper part of arm bone from the scapula. The pain is mostly noted as the arms are raised or moved away from the body.


There are different types of arthritis but they commonly result in degenerative changes and inflammation, causing swelling, stiffness and pain of the shoulder joint.

Tendon Tears

Rotator cuff tears occur once an injured rotator cuff tendon detaches from the bones. Another cause of shoulder pain is the rupture of the biceps tendon that connects that biceps muscle at the shoulder joint. The tendon injury is brought about by the wear and tear process and shoulder overuse.

When Should You Seek Consultation?

It is advised by physicians to make a consultation once shoulder pain increases its duration, frequency and severity. It is essential to determine the exact cause of the pain so that an appropriate treatment modality is given before the symptoms worsen.

In cases of acute injuries with severe pain, it is recommended to see your physician as soon as possible. Unmanaged shoulder pains may result in detrimental effects, which can cause severe physical, psychological and financial damages.


The treatment of shoulder pain mainly depends on its cause. Thus, it is best to consult your physician to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

To relieve and alleviate shoulder pain, treatment regimens usually include resting of the affect joints for a prescribed period of time. Prolonged immobilization is avoided to prevent the occurrence of frozen shoulder, a condition where the joints are severely stiffened.

Ice and hot pack compresses are applied to decrease the pain and swelling but it is important to know when to use and how long should each application continue.

Physical therapy sessions, where stretching and strengthening exercises are applied, are helpful. The injured shoulder joint regains its mobility, close enough to its pre-injury level.  Medications, such as NSAIDS and cortisone injections in more severe conditions, are commonly prescribed to reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain.

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