7 Reasons You’re Experiencing Shoulder Pain
Chances are you don’t often stop to think about how important your shoulders are to your daily life – until something goes wrong with it, that is.
Our shoulders are vital to a wide range of everyday activities, providing support and strength to our arms’ vast range of movements. When pain strikes in the shoulder, it can quickly impact not only our daily activities, but also our ability to rest at night – significantly impacting our overall wellbeing.
Our shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in our body, moving the shoulder forward and backward. It also allows the arm to move in a circular motion and to move up and away from the body. There are three main bones – the humerus, clavicle and scapula. These bones are cushioned by a layer of cartilage and have two main joints (although collectively, we refer to them as the shoulder joint).
Given the complex makeup of our shoulders and the wide range of movement they have, it’s no wonder they are a common source of pain and discomfort.
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain and trying to work out why, we’ve outlined seven of the most common causes below.
1. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
Rotator cuff tendonitis is the mildest and most common form of rotator cuff injury. It involves an inflammation of the rotator cuff muscles, a group of four tendons that covers the head of the humerus bone and controls arm rotation and elevation. Rotator cuff tendonitis is most commonly caused by repetitive or overhead activities such as throwing, raking, washing cars or windows and many other types of highly repetitive motions. It may also occur as a result of an injury.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time, until bone is rubbing on bone. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that worsens over time and can end up resulting in chronic pain.
3. Inflamed bursa/bursitis
Bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when bursae – small sacs filled with fluid that cushion our bones, tendons and muscles – become inflamed. Bursitis is common in our shoulder joints and is often accompanied by other causes of pain, such as rotator cuff tendonitis. Repetetive motions are the most common cause of bursitis, particularly as we age.
4. Torn cartilage
The shoulder labrum is a piece of soft cartilage in the socket-shaped joint in your shoulder bone. It cups the ball-shaped joint at the top of your upper arm bone, connecting the two joints. A tear to this cartilage can be extremely painful, and can be brought on by a sudden injury or ongoing wear and tear.
5. Bone spurs
Bone spurs are small pointed growths of bone, which occur most typically in joints affected by inflammation due to other causes (for example, osteoarthritis). While many bone spurs cause no symptoms and can go undetected for years, others will cause pain and a loss of motion in joints.
6. Dislocated shoulder
A dislocated shoulder is an injury in which your upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket that’s part of your shoulder blade, typically due to an accident or injury. Dislocated shoulders are typically extremely painful and require urgent medical attention.
7. Overuse injury – muscular strains and sprains
Strains and sprains are another common cause of shoulder pain and can be caused by a single injury or ongoing repetitive activities. A sprain is abnormal stretching or tearing of a ligament that supports a joint. A strain is abnormal stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon.
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic can help
Given the range of reasons shoulder pain can occur, it’s important to get the right diagnosis and treatment when you do feel pain. Visiting a physiotherapist is an important first step in diagnosing the true cause of your injury, from here a care plan can be created and your physiotherapist will work with you closely during your recovery process.
If you’ve been experiencing shoulder pain for a short or long period of time, book an appointment with our specialist team today for an assessment.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.