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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Pain Pain Arrow to Shoulder Pain Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a very common form of localized pain and injury for the simple reason that the shoulder is the joint with the most range of motion.

The ball on the end of the upper arm is actually smaller than the socket of the shoulder holding it. This means that the shoulder must rely on a great deal of soft tissue to remain anchored properly in place, all of which makes the shoulder an injury and a typical pain "hot spot."

Causes of shoulder pain

illustration showing the causes of bursitis in the shoulder
Bursitis is a painful shoulder ailment
which is a result of an inflamed bursa,
(the fluid-filled cavity that reduces
friction between joints)


One very common shoulder injury is a dislocated shoulder, which is when the shoulder is either pulled outward, away from the body, or else the arm is rotated in such a way that the ball of the upper arm is popped out of the shoulder socket.

A dislocated shoulder is a particularly bad injury to suffer because with each dislocation, it becomes easier for the shoulder to dislocate again.

Irritation of the tendons of the shoulder, such as seen in tendinitis, is a common cause of shoulder pain. Bursitis, or inflammation of the bursa surrounding the shoulder joint, is another typical condition that may cause stiffening and pain.

A sudden injury, such as a fall, may be the cause of a tendon injury, but a lifetime of hard use or other factors like aging may also weaken tendons, making them more susceptible to injury while also making the shoulder injury more difficult to repair.

Shoulder pain isn't always caused by some sort of trauma, however. Heart disease, for example, can cause pain that radiates to the shoulder, while conditions related to a back or spine injury can also bring on shoulder pain, especially in the area around the shoulder blade.

Shoulder pain treatment

In most cases, treating injuries directly involving the shoulder means using cold compresses to reduce swelling, along with aspirin or prescription drugs to relieve pain. Corticosteroid injections may provide short-term benefits in reducing inflammation, as well.

As with any physical injury, proper rest is highly recommended to help in the healing process. Depending on how severe the injury, immobilizing and stabilizing the shoulder is sometimes prescribed to protect the injured shoulder from further harm. More serious injuries such as a torn rotator cuff may require surgery.

For serious or prolonged pain, a trip to the doctor is usually recommended to help ascertain any possible related conditions or diagnose the exact cause of shoulder pain.

More about shoulder pain around the Web:

Your Orthopaedic Connection - Shoulder Pain
- Good overview of including information on bursitis, tendonitis and other conditions including when to see a doctor, with more on available diagnosis and treatment options.

MedlinePlus - Shoulder pain - Comprehensive information on shoulder pain conditions, causes & treatment, what to expect at a doctor's visit, home care and prevention tips, related illustrations.

Shoulder Bursitis - MedicineNet - Information on causes & treatment options including pain relievers and medications, home care tips.

What is Tendonitis?- Information on Tendonitis - Check out causes and treatment, a discussion on the different types of tendonitis, and tips on how to avoid re-occurrence.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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