If you injure your shoulder, it’s not a mystery why it hurts. But if you didn’t twist it, get struck by something or fall on it and it’s still painful, what’s going on? Let’s look at why your shoulder joint may be hurting.
The shoulder is a complex joint where the upper arm, shoulder blade and collarbone meet. It’s a ball and socket joint, meaning that it can rotate in a full circle, but for it work properly, it needs the support of many other tissues—muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
Because there are so many structures in your shoulder, the pain may not be due to a sudden accident. Instead, overuse of any of those parts over time can also create serious discomfort and stiffness. Here are a few of the conditions that might be the cause of your shoulder pain:
Arthritis. Osteoarthritis doesn’t just happen in hips and knees—it also occurs in shoulders. Like all OA, it wears away the cartilage between the bones, which can limit your range of motion and be highly painful.
Impingement. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that connect the bones in the shoulder socket. An impingement involves inflammation of these tendons or compression of the fluid-filled sac that cushions the place where the bones meet.
Rotator cuff tear. This is the same general type of injury as an impingement, except in this case, the tendons are not just inflamed, they’re torn. How to tell the difference? If the joint is weak in addition to being painful, that may be caused by a tear.
Tendinitis. As the name implies, tendinitis is the swelling of a tendon. It can be caused by repeated shoulder injuries or overuse of the joint. In some cases, calcium deposits also form in the rotator cuff tendons, causing severe pain. This occurs most often in older people and those with diabetes.
Sprain or strain. This kind of shoulder instability occurs when the structures that support the joint are overstretched—or even torn. A sprain is a serious condition in which the ligaments that hold the bones together tear. This can happen during a fall and push your collar bone out of its normal position. A strain is similar, except it affects other structures like tendons and muscles.
Frozen shoulder. The medical term for this is adhesive capsulitis, and it simply means that your shoulder becomes so inflamed that it becomes quite difficult to move it, making everyday tasks a challenge. Because it hurts so much, people are inclined not to use that arm, which can make the condition worse. People with diabetes and other health conditions are more prone to it, and women are more likely to get it than men. However, it does tend to self-correct after a few years.
Since the shoulder is comprised of many different, interrelated tissues and bones, it’s very common for one of these conditions to be accompanied by others on this list.
Cause and Solution
As we’ve mentioned, medical conditions and injuries can cause damage to your shoulder joint, but repetitive motion can as well. This can affect athletes of any age who put a lot of strain on their shoulders, like baseball and softball pitchers, as well as people in jobs that require lifting their arms over their heads a great deal, like painters, flight attendants and stock clerks. While pain in the shoulder doesn’t necessarily mean you have a serious injury, if it doesn’t go away in a few days and ice doesn’t help, or you find your range of motion becoming increasingly limited, it’s time to consult a joint specialist.
Shoulder surgery has a long recovery time, so alternative, non-invasive treatments should be your first choice. Here at Flexogenix®, we treat all major shoulder problems by restoring lubrication directly to the joint and then helping your body rebuild its own tissues through a regenerative treatment called Progeni-Flex™. If you’re looking to maintain shoulder mobility and do the things you want to do, from basic self-care to work to sports activities, contact us here at Flexogenix® today. We’ll get you back on the move!