Causes and treatments for shoulder pain

The shoulder is the human body’s most mobile joint. The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles and tendons that provide the shoulder its range of motion.

The rotator cuff muscles

Shoulder pain can be caused by swelling, injury, or bone changes around the rotator cuff. Lifting your arm over your head or moving it forward or behind your back may cause pain.


The most prevalent cause of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tendon impingement under the bony region of the shoulder. Tendons can become inflamed or injured. This is known as rotator cuff tendinitis or bursitis.

Shoulder bursitis is a common condition.

Shoulder pain can also be brought on by:

  • Arthritis of the shoulder
  • Spurs of bone in the shoulder region
  • Bursitis is an inflammation of a fluid-filled sac (bursa) that ordinarily protects and helps the joint move smoothly.
  • Shoulder fracture
  • Shoulder joint dislocation
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Frozen shoulder occurs when the muscles, tendons, and ligaments within the shoulder become stiff and unpleasant to move.
  • Overuse or injury to neighbouring tendons, such as the arms’ biceps
  • A nerve damage causes aberrant shoulder mobility.
  • Tendon tears in the rotator cuff
  • Poor shoulder mechanics and posture
  • Shoulder pain can also be caused by a condition in another part of the body, such as the neck or lungs. This is known as referred pain. Pain is normally present at rest and does not worsen when the shoulder is moved.

If the pain is unbearable, you must visit an orthopaedic hospital to get evaluated before your condition worsens.

Home Health Care

Here are some suggestions for relieving shoulder pain:

  1. Apply ice on the shoulder for 15 minutes, then remove it for 15 minutes. Do this 3–4 times each day for 2–3 days. Wrap the ice in a piece of fabric. Do not apply ice straight to the skin as this can induce frostbite.
  2. For the following few days, rest your shoulder.
  3. Return to your normal activities gradually. A physical therapist can assist you in doing so safely.
  4. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) may be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain.

If you have previously experienced shoulder pain, utilise ice and ibuprofen after exercising.

Learn how to stretch and strengthen your rotator cuff tendons and shoulder muscles with these exercises. Such exercises can be recommended by an orthopedic doctor or physical therapist.

To avoid frozen shoulder, continue to conduct range-of-motion exercises when recovering from tendinitis.

Maintain proper posture to keep your shoulder muscles and tendons in place.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

Sudden left shoulder pain might occasionally indicate a heart attack. If you have abrupt pressure or crushing pain in your shoulder, call 911 or your local emergency number, especially if the pain spreads from your chest to your left jaw, arm, or neck and is accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, or sweating.

Symptoms of a heart attack

If you have recently had a major accident and your shoulder is extremely painful, swollen, bruised, or bleeding, go to the hospital’s emergency department.

If you develop any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor:

  • Shoulder ache accompanied with fever, edema, or redness
  • Shoulder mobility issues
  • Even after home treatment, pain persists for more than 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Shoulder swollenness
  • Shoulder skin colour is either red or blue.

What to Expect in the Office Visit

Your provider will examine your shoulder and perform a physical exam. You will be asked questions in order for the provider to better understand your shoulder problem.

To help diagnose the problem, blood or imaging tests, such as x-rays or an MRI, may be ordered.

Your doctor may offer the following treatments for shoulder pain:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • Injection of a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory medication Physical therapy
  • If all other therapies have failed, surgery may be considered.
  • If you have rotator cuff issues, your doctor will most likely recommend self-care measures and exercises.

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