Shoulder pain can be a right nuisance. It can prevent you from doing what you want to do, whether that be your general daily activities, work, exercise, or sports, which can be highly frustrating.
Shoulder pain can come on gradually, often due to repeated movements of your arm above your head or out to your side, poor sitting postures, laying on your shoulder at night, carrying lots of heavy objects, or repetitive shoulder movements during sport and activity.
Shoulder pain can also come on after a specific incident, such as reaching for something too quickly, lifting a heavy object, or throwing something.
The most common sources of shoulder pain are either a frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tendinopathy, bursitis, muscular strain, impingement, hypermobility, wear and tear of the shoulder joint, a dislocation, or a fracture.
A frozen shoulder is where the joint capsule encasing the shoulder joint decides to spontaneously shrink and tighten up.
A rotator cuff tendinopathy is where the rotator cuff tendons in your shoulder become overloaded, resulting in certain changes to the tendon, including swelling, stiffness, inflammation, micro-tears and a reduced blood supply.
Bursitis is where the bursa, a fluid sac within your shoulder which is supposed to stop friction, becomes inflamed.
A muscular strain happens when a muscle is overstretched. Minor injuries may only overstretch a muscle, while more severe injuries may involve partial or complete tears in the muscle.
Impingement is where the rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder get pinched and compressed in a small gap just above the shoulder joint.
Hypermobility is where your shoulder joint is more flexible than the average population. This added flexibility predisposes you to instability, dislocations, early onset of arthritis and overload to the soft tissues around the shoulder, which are having to work extra hard to keep your shoulder joint in place.
Wear and tear of the shoulder joint is a natural process that happens as you age. There are 4 stages of wear and tear. The first stage is where the cartilage in your shoulder starts to thin. The second stage is where the joint space in the shoulder begins to narrow, and the cartilage begins to break down. The third stage is where the joint space becomes even narrower, and gaps in the cartilage can appear. The final stage is where the joint space is greatly reduced, the loss of cartilage reaches beyond 60%, and large bony spurs form.
A dislocation is where the shoulder joint actually pops out of place.
A fracture is where you break a bone in your shoulder. This can typically affect either your humerus, scapular, or clavicular bone.
Due to the complex structure of the shoulder, shoulder pain can often radiate into the upper arm, present with clicking or locking, and it can even lead to pins and needles, numbness, or weakness, running down your arm.
As I’m sure you’re beginning to realise, there are such a wide range of potential causes for your shoulder pain.