What Is Shoulder Pain?

The shoulder is a complex combination of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support a joint. It helps you do seemingly easy tasks such as scratching your back, driving your car, cooking, caring for your plants, and much more. However, this mobility certainly comes with a price, a fact that you realize as you grow older and develop a variety of problems. These parts can go wrong at any point in time due to any reason which is why a lot of people start developing shoulder pains over the years. 

The shoulder is held in place by a group of muscles and tendons known as the rotator cuff that helps protect the bone and provides you with the range of motion that enables you to perform your day-to-day tasks. Shoulder pain comes in many forms- it may be stiffness near the shoulder joints, a pins and needles sensation, weakness in the area, loss of mobility, and reduced range of motion.

What Are the Causes of Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain can have a myriad of causes like:

  • Tendinitis 
  • Arthritis 
  • Bursitis 
  • A sudden fall or injury 
  • Sports-related injury 
  • Occupational Reasons- especially if you are required to do heavy physical tasks 
  • Overuse of shoulder 
  • Arthritis 
  • Lifting weights in an incorrect manner 
  • Fracture 
  • Shoulder dislocation

Also Read: Massage Techniques for Frozen Shoulder: Why is it good for you?

What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Pain?

Before you decide on a doctor’s visit or on a specific treatment plan, ask yourself these questions for examining your shoulder at home:

  • Can I move my arm in the normal way, or is it too painful to move my shoulder because it is too stiff? 
  • Does it feel like my shoulder is going to pop out of my socket? 
  • Am I able to do my daily tasks without discomfort? 
  • Does my shoulder joint look deformed? 
  • Am I able to use my shoulder at all? 
  • How intense is my pain? Is it manageable? 
  • Is my shoulder swollen? 
  • Is my arm or hand numb?

After you have asked yourself these important questions the next step is to understand exactly what might have happened. Different reasons may have different presentations and it might be difficult to label your pain.

Before you decide on a treatment plan, here’s what you should be looking out for while examining your shoulder pain:

  • Your shoulder might be dislocated if it is rotated too far and is pulled back too hard. The top of the arm has probably popped out of the socket and your shoulder will have swelling, numbness, and bruising. You will also feel considerable pain and weakness in your shoulder. 
  • For injuries affecting the collarbone and shoulder blade, more specifically the Acromioclavicular AC joint. If you have an injury near this joint, you will typically have pain and swelling near your collarbone and if your collarbone is pushed out of place, then you will also have a bump on the shoulder. 
  • A fracture in the bone or even a crack can cause considerable pain and bruise. This usually happens when you fall from a considerable height or get hit very hard. Typically in a fracture, there is a lot of bruising, swelling, and pain. The most common types of fractures near the shoulder happen to the humerus which is the bone closest to the shoulder or the clavicle which is the collarbone. 
  • Cartilage is the inner rubber padding that is located near the rim of the shoulder. A cartilage tear is something that can happen due to overuse. So if you have been playing an intensive sport for too long, or are in an occupation that requires repetitive use of the shoulder then a cartilage tear is probable. It happens when you are doing the same motion over and over. You feel pain when you are trying to reach something above you. It also feels like your shoulder joints are grinding against each other and overall the shoulder feels weak. 
  • Rotator Cuff Tears are also a common reason behind shoulder pain. A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that hold your arm in place and let you have the range of motion to do your day-to-day tasks. You can have these injuries due to overuse or by taking a hard hit. If you have this, your shoulder might hurt at night, or hurt whenever you are trying to carry out your daily tasks like reaching overhead to get a plate, lifting heavy things, etc. You might also hear a crackling sound as you move it. 
  • A frozen shoulder is comparatively easy to examine as it has characteristic and distinctive symptoms. A frozen shoulder is mostly going to affect your mobility, and it will affect the movement of the joint. Adhesions which are abnormal bands of tissue start cropping up near the joint that affect your ability to move it freely. This might happen because of a recent surgery that may have inhibited shoulder movement that has led the way for these adhesions to build up. 
  • Sometimes, the bones in the shoulder due to a bone spur might start pinching on the soft tissues of the tendons located which causes sharp pain. It can also cause swelling and redness near the shoulder, and this usually sets off if you try to  lift your arms over your head. However, you need to consult a doctor who will order certain imaging tests like XRAY, MRI, etc to get to the exact location of the bone spur to start with your treatment plan. 
  • Your shoulder like we mentioned earlier is a complex combination of joints, tendons, and muscles. These tendons and muscles are supported by fluid-filled sacs known as the bursa which is a fluid-filled sac that helps cushion these parts to ensure mobility and range of motion. These cushions might get swollen and agitated due to overuse- something is commonly seen in sports persons and people in construction jobs where they constantly repeat certain motions in their shoulders. It can also be caused due to a sudden impact injury or a fall from a certain height. This pain is felt every time you move your shoulder, it is red, inflamed, and sensitive to touch.

Also Read: Chronic Shoulder Pain – Causes and Treatment

Phyt Health which is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform provides online physiotherapy services using 3D Imaging and Artificial Intelligence. Using this technology they can accurately predict problem areas in posture and movement that might be causing the pain and can help you with your self-examination of the shoulder. What’s more, with a staff of expert physiotherapists on Phyt Health, you can easily book an online video consultation session that helps you build a treatment plan for your shoulder pain.