What Can Cause Shoulder Pain

Most cases of shoulder pain involves the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. Of course, this is not to say that the nearby connective tissue and bones are not involved, because they very well may be. The shoulder is made up of the clavicle, scapula, and the humerus, which can be damaged during falls, sports and motor vehicle accidents, and long-term repetitive movement.

Shoulder Pain Causes

Edema, inflammation, and damage to the glenohumeral joint and the shoulder can definitely cause mild to moderate pain, but a damaged rotator cuff, which is comprised of the infraspinatus, teres minor, supraspinatus, subscapularis muscles and tendons can also be the source of the pain.

Damaged rotator cuff tendons (connective tissue that connects muscles to bones) is most often the main factor of shoulder pain. The tendons will most often become damaged, when they get trapped underneath the shoulder bones. When this occurs, the tendons will become inflamed and edematous, which is known as rotator cuff tendinitis.

Acute Shoulder Pain

Other factors that are linked to shoulder pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Shoulder bone spurs
  • Fractured bone or dislocated/separated shoulder
  • Overuse/repetitive movements
  • Rotator cuff tendon tears
  • Stiff or frozen shoulder muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Left Shoulder Pain Cases

Bursa (sac filled with fluid) acts as a shock resistant cushion for muscles, bones, and tendons. The bursa not only prevents these organs and tissues from rubbing up against each other and causing friction, but they also reduce impact. When the bursa becomes irritated due to trauma, repetitive movement, arthritis, or infection, it can lead to bursitis, which is inflammation of the bursa sac.

Bursas are also located in the elbow, hip, and knee. Symptoms of bursitis include:

  • Tenderness/pain/stiffness near the glenohumeral joint, when palpated
  • Edematous and redness noted at the site of the affected bursa

Shoulder Pain Exercises

Exercise can decrease inflammation and edema, while strengthening the shoulder muscles. Exercise will increase anti-inflammatory proteins, but it is important to note that some exercises can worsen the symptoms. Your best option is to make an appointment with a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan that is suitable for your needs and to target affected areas.

The “Y” formation exercise will help to strengthen the shoulder muscles, while keeping the glenohumeral joint flexible. Place your arms down by your side, keep the elbows straight, and gradually move them up above your head. Keep this position for 20-30 minutes and then gradually return them to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 3-4 times, but avoid overdoing it.

The shoulder roll is another great exercise that will keep your glenohumeral joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments flexible, while decreasing inflammation, edema, and pain.

Home Remedies For Shoulder Pain

  • Ice/hot packs or heating pad
  • NSAIDs (Advil) to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Home exercises
  • Avoid lying on affected shoulder
  • Shoulder sling for shoulder injuries

RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation always works to alleviate pain, inflammation, and edema. Yoga and meditation techniques can be utilized to reduce stress, improves flexibility, builds muscle mass, and improves posture and balance.

How To Relieve Shoulder Pain

Exercising will increase blood flow the affected area, which will increase the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells. This will provide oxygen-rich blood to the damaged tissues and cells.