What can be the cause of my shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is a common suffering in the US. Studies show, 67% of people experience shoulder discomfort at some point in their lives. The most mobile joint in your body, the shoulder is made up of bones supported by muscles, tendons and ligaments. The structure is designed to work together to allow the shoulder to move freely and perform several different actions from raising your arm over your hand to throwing a baseball and scratching your back. “Unfortunately, this mobility comes at the expense of stability,” and that leaves the shoulder vulnerable to injury, says Zaki Anwer, medical director of sports medicine at The Pain Management Institute, Chicago Frankfort.

With the wear and tear of everyday life its easy to see why you are shouldering so much pain. For precise diagnosis and treatment of your shoulder pain, you need to consult your physician. “Your visit at The Pain Management Institute will include a physical exam, and possibly an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound, or you may even be referred for physical therapy right off the bat, Dr. Zaki says.

Rotator cuff tendonitis

Of all the reasons for shoulder pain, injury to your rotator cuff is the most common. In recent research, two third of the people with shoulder pain are diagnosed with a rotator cuff tendonitis. The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that attach to the bones of the shoulder joint, responsible to keep the ball of your upper arm held in its place and helps you rotate your arm. With repetitive motion the rotator cuff become inflamed, causing severe shoulder pain “The rotator cuff is like a tire—with aging or frequent use, it gets thinner and thinner and eventually wears down,” says Dr Zaki Anwer, MD

Rotator cuff tears

There are possibilities that a shoulder tendon can partially or completely tear, either from repetitive movements or from a direct blow, in an accident or sudden fall. The shoulder pain arising from the rotator cuff tear, felt suddenly and can be excruciating. Shoulder pain, weakness, and stiffness from a chronic tear worsen gradually, and cannot be defined when it began

“Your tires will last you a lot longer if your alignment and shocks are good, and the exact same thing is true of the shoulder,” says Dr. Zaki

Frozen shoulder

This ailment is exactly what is sounds like, says Dr. Zaki. People with a frozen shoulder visit with severe stiffness and inability to move their shoulder the way they normally can, with different levels of shoulder pain. Frozen shoulder happens when the connective tissues that held your shoulder joint becomes thickened and inflamed. Specially middle-aged women are prone to frozen shoulder. You don’t suddenly wake up with frozen shoulder though. The ailment is broken into three stages: “freezing,” “frozen,” and “melting.” “Over time, you’ll notice a decrease in your range of motion and then all of a sudden it escalates,” says Dr. Zaki.

Other common causes of shoulder pain include

  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Labral tears
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Shoulder instability
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Fractured collarbone