Learning the Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

It is estimated that over 25 percent of all adults have shoulder pains, with the risk of getting these conditions reaching 70 percent during one’s lifetime. Those who have experienced shoulder pains may attest to the pain and distress the condition may cause, even leading to disability in many cases. To get an idea of this serious condition, here are the more common causes of shoulder pain.


Found in different joints of the body including the shoulders are small fluid-filled sacs called the bursae, which act as cushions between the bones and the soft tissues. The bursae help in reducing friction between the muscles and bones during movements. When the shoulder is exposed to excessive use, there may be inflammation and swelling of the bursae that may lead to a condition called bursitis. This can be very painful and discomforting, making routine activities such as dressing, combing, and driving very difficult.


Tendinitis may occur when the tendons or the cords that connect muscles to bones are damaged or pinched due to wear and tear or any activity that may stress the shoulders. In most cases, the part that is affected is the rotator cuff, the component that provides stability and mobility to the shoulder. Once these tendons are inflamed, there can be great pain, soreness, and problems in movements that may involve the shoulder.


Like the other joints of the body, the shoulder joints may also be affected with arthritis, the most common of which is osteoarthritis or the result of wear and tear. Other types of arthritis would be those that may result from tears in the rotator cuff, infection, or a swelling of a joint lining. Just like the other forms of arthritis, shoulder arthritis can result to pain, stiffness, and difficulty in movement. Unlike other shoulder pains, shoulder arthritis may develop gradually and may worsen over time.

Shoulder Fracture

Fractures are basically bones that have been broken after an injury sustained during an accident, sporting event, or any high energy activities. In older people, shoulder fractures may be the result of falls, which are very common at these ages. These fractures may occur in the collar bone, the scapula, or the humerus. Once a shoulder is fractured, movement is extremely difficult and very painful even if it is a slight one.

Instability or Dislocations

Instability of the shoulders happens when the upper bone is forced out or detached from the shoulder socket. This is usually caused by an injury or from wear and tear. This instability may be the result of partial or complete dislocation. Any type of movement can be very painful and difficult and at a risk of worsening the injury. Over time, this condition may develop into arthritis of the shoulder.

Management of Should Pain

Shoulder pains are extremely painful and can have a huge impact on the person’s quality of life including lost work hours. There is a need to have medical attention for these injuries. Depending on the evaluation of the healthcare provider, a patient may be given medications and surgery if the condition is very serious. In all these cases, physical therapy becomes very vital not just in managing pain and stiffness, but also in improving strength and range of motion and rehabilitation after surgery or recovery. Various physiotherapy modalities may be applied for this purpose.