5 Causes of Shoulder Pain

The unique structure of your shoulder joint makes it a highly mobile and flexible part of your body. However, this complexity also leaves it vulnerable to injury. And, unfortunately, when something goes wrong, it can significantly interfere with your daily life.

The good news is that relieving shoulder pain doesn’t necessarily mean needing surgery. Instead, some of the most common causes of shoulder injuries respond to safe and innovative treatments, such as medication, nerve blocks, and steroid injections.

At Elite Pain Management and Recovery Centers, our team can help no matter where it hurts. Here are five causes of shoulder pain we see at each of our locations, including our new office in Las Vegas.

1. Tendonitis

Your upper arm bone ends in a ball that sits in a shallow cup-like socket in your shoulder. Four major tendons — which form the rotator cuff — hold them together. Tendons are the tissues that attach your muscles to your bones. 

If the tendons in your shoulder become pinched or irritated, inflammation can develop. This type of injury can cause tenderness and pain, and it can make it difficult to hold your arm in certain positions.

This type of injury often develops from overuse, repetitive use, or sudden trauma to the shoulder.

2. Torn cartilage

You may have heard of cartilage, but there are two kinds in your shoulder joint. One is white cartilage — or articular cartilage — and it coats the ends of your bones so they can slide against each other smoothly. You also have labrum cartilage.

Labrum cartilage is very different from articular cartilage. This tissue is quite fibrous and rigid, and it only exists around the socket in your shoulder joint. It has two primary functions. The first is to help keep the ball of your upper arm in place. It also provides a surface for other tissues to attach to. For example, a tendon in your bicep connects to the labrum.

There are several types of labrum tears that can cause intense shoulder pain, including:

In addition to pain, these types of injuries can cause stiffness, weakness, reduced range of motion, and popping, grinding, or locking sensations when you move.

3. Arthritis

Just like you can tear your labrum, you can also damage your articular cartilage. Many forms of arthritis can impact the cartilage in your shoulder, including:

Each type of arthritis develops for different reasons, but they can all cause shoulder joint inflammation, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

4. Frozen shoulder

This type of shoulder pain occurs when the connective tissue around the shoulder joint thickens and stiffens. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, this condition typically occurs slowly over three stages. 

Freezing stage

The first stage involves pain with any shoulder movement, and your range of motion starts decreasing.

Frozen stage

You may have less pain during this period, but your shoulder becomes far more difficult to use.

Thawing stage

Your range of motion starts to return.

Several factors can increase your chances of suffering a frozen shoulder, including being a woman over age 40, having systemic diseases, such as diabetes, and experiencing reduced or prolonged immobility of the shoulder.

5. Pinched nerve

Sometimes, shoulder pain doesn’t originate in the shoulder area at all. Instead, it occurs because nerves near your cervical (neck) spine become pinched or irritated. This can then maifest in shoulder pain.

These nerves can become pinched or irritated due to compressed or herniated discs as well as bone spurs that form in the spine. Signs that a pinched nerve is causing your shoulder pain can include the following:

A pinched nerve can also cause symptoms that radiate down your arm and into your hand.

No matter what’s to blame for your shoulder pain, we have skilled providers who can help. With our expertise, we can identify the source of your discomfort and outline a personalized treatment plan to provide relief.

To get help for your shoulder pain, book an appointment online or over the phone with Elite Pain Management and Recovery Centers today. We have five convenient locations, including our newest location in Las Vegas.

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