Why does your shoulder hurt?

The shoulder has an extensive and flexible range of motion. When something goes wrong with your shoulder, it hampers your ability to move freely and can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. You feel handicapped..

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that has three main bones: the humerus (long arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapula (also known as the shoulder blade). These bones are cushioned by a layer of cartilage. The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. It allows movement in all, back and forth directions. Moreover, it allows the arm to move in a circular motion, and to move up and away from the body.

Mobility has its price! However, it may lead to rising problems with instability or impingement of the soft tissue or bony structures in your shoulder, resulting in pain. You may feel pain only when you move your shoulder or all of the time. The pain may be temporary or it may continue and require medical diagnosis and treatment.

Most shoulder problems fall into four major categories:

  • Tendon inflammation (bursitis or tendinitis) or tendon tear
  • Instability
  • Arthritis
  • Fracture (broken bone)

Other much less common causes of shoulder pain are tumors, infection, and nerve-related problems.

In the case of an acute injury causing intense pain, seek medical help as soon as possible. If the pain is less severe, it may be safe to rest a few days to see if time will resolve the problem. If symptoms persist, see a doctor.

Your doctor will conduct a thorough assessment in order to conclude the cause of your shoulder pain and provide you with treatment options. Treatment generally involves rest, altering your activities, and physical therapy to help you improve shoulder strength and flexibility. Common sense solutions such as avoiding overexertion or overdoing activities in which you normally do not participate can help to prevent shoulder pain.