The shoulder, just like the knee, is a highly mobile and functional joint. It is not surprising that shoulder pain increases as we age because the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder tend to degenerate. Excessive or unusual activity could increase the risk of developing shoulder pain over the years. The pain may be constant, or only when the arm is moved. It is possible that patients experience shoulder pain from other parts of the body, which could be the source of the pain especially in the absence of injury to the shoulder. The source of the pain in other parts of the body, such as the neck or biceps, can radiate to the shoulder. If your shoulder feels numb with a tingling sensation, it is most likely damaged or pinched nerves caused by the shoulder injury.
A variety of factors and common conditions can contribute to shoulder pain. Each of the several conditions present unique symptoms. Causes of shoulder pain include:
- Rotator cuff tendinitis
- Cervical radiculopathy
- Winged scapula
- Calcific tendinitis
- Impingement syndrome
- Arthritis or Rheumatoid arthritis
- Torn cartilage or tendon
- Bone spurs
- Pinched nerve
- Dislocated or fractured shoulder/arm
- Spinal cord injury
- Adhesive capsulitis or “Frozen shoulder”
- Heart attack
Diagnosis and treatment
Medical history and a physical examination from your health care provide will be the initial diagnosis. Diagnostic imaging tests such as x-ray, Computed tomography (CT scan), or Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI), can produce detailed pictures of the shoulder. This will help your shoulder condition get diagnosed accurately.
Treatment options such as physical or occupational therapy, shoulder immobilizer, and surgery may be needed depending on the cause and severity of the shoulder pain. Performing simple stretches provided by your doctor or therapist can help stretch and strengthen the muscle which will help with managing the pain. often patients find the shoulder pain is limiting many tasks, which could weaken the shoulder muscles. The pain will get worse if the muscle is weakened. Therefore, performing simple stretches or exercises is necessary if it is recommended or provided by the health care provider.
You should seek medical help if you experience fever, unable to move your shoulder, lasting bruising, heat and tenderness around the shoulder joint area, or if the pain persists and keeps getting worse. If your shoulder pain is not related to any injury and sudden, it may be a sign of a heart attack. Call 911 immediately. Also, if the shoulder injury led to bleeding and exposed tissue, seek medical attention immediately.
The contents contained within this page are not a substitute for health professionals’ advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We advise that you seek advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner. We fully disclose that any surgical or invasive procedures come with risks.
For more details on how to relieve or treat chronic pain, you can reach out to one of our pain specialists at any of our pain care clinic locations. We establish a caring relationship and provide patients with pain relief when needed the most.