Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain may start in the shoulder itself or from the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Overview

The shoulder joint is formed by a combination of muscles and tendons designed to support the humerus (upper arm bone), shoulder blade (scapula), and collar bone. The human body has a great deal of range of motion that allows throwing motions and reaching the back; however, this great flexibility puts the shoulder at risk to overuse syndromes and injuries.

Shoulder pain may start in the shoulder itself but it’s not uncommon for it to come from the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments either. Common causes for shoulder pain includes arthritis, inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis), inflammation of the bursa (bursitis), or even a tear of a supporting structure such as the rotator cuff or a ligament. An x-ray or MRI may be necessary to evaluate the source of the pain further.

Non-surgical treatment options include a peripheral joint injection that places a strong anti-inflammatory into the joint itself to decrease pain and irritation. If you have already had a cortisone injection, we recommend not risking additional damage with repeated injections. Instead, consider regenerative medicine treatments such as platelet-rich plasma, stem cells inject therapy, and/or growth factor injection therapy. Physical therapy may also be necessary in combination with any non-surgical treatment option.

Bursitis

Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that are located in joints throughout the body, including the shoulder. They act as cushions between the bones and the overlying soft tissues, and help reduce friction between the gliding muscles and the bone.

Sometimes, excessive use of the shoulder leads to inflammation and swelling of the bursae between the rotator cuff and the part of the shoulder blade known as the acromion. The result is a condition known as subacromial bursitis.

Bursitis often occurs in association with rotator cuff tendinitis. The many tissues in the shoulder can become inflamed and painful, making many daily activities, such as combing your hair or getting dressed, become difficult.

Rotator Cuff Tendon

The splitting and tearing of tendons may result from acute injury or degenerative changes in the tendons due to aging, long-term overuse, wear and tear, or a sudden injury. These tears may partially or completely split the tendon into two pieces. In most cases of complete tears, the tendon is pulled away from its attachment to the bone and of these types of injuries, rotator cuff and biceps tendon injuries are among the most common.

Arthritis

Shoulder pain can also result from arthritis. There are many types of arthritis but the most common type of arthritis in the shoulder is osteoarthritis which is sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. The symptoms, which are swelling, pain, and stiffness typically begin during middle age and gradually worsen over time as osteoarthritis develops slowly.

Osteoarthritis, may be related to sports or work injuries and chronic wear and tear. Other types of arthritis can be related to rotator cuff tears, infection, or an inflammation of the joint lining.

Arthritis patients will often avoid shoulder movements in an attempt to lessen arthritis pain which sometimes leads to a tightening or stiffening of the soft tissue parts of the joint. This results in a painful restriction of motion in the target joint which leads to excruciating pain.