Shoulder Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Possible Treatments

Perhaps you don’t think of your shoulders until you start experiencing pain. Pain in your shoulders may make simple activities, like reaching for something, drying your hair, brushing, or fastening a bra, feel like an immense task.

Shoulder pain may range from severe to mild. And might build up with time or come up suddenly. Treatment may differ depending on your specific conditions. The possible treatment options may include orthopedics, physical therapy, rest, and medication.


Your shoulders are the mobile joints in the body. They allow you to reach across your body, lift your arms, and throw things. Unfortunately, this flexibility comes with a great vulnerability.

They include some bones, like the scapula, humerus, and clavicle. These are often held in position by tendons, ligaments, and muscles, allowing them to cushion your joints and move shoulders.

Apart from tissues, the shoulders also house nerves that run to your hands and arms. All these structures are at risk of getting injured and affected by health issues, resulting in shoulder pain.

However, in many cases, shoulder pain can be caused by an issue with your joint as well as surrounding tendons and muscles. Some of the things that could be causing your shoulder pain are the following:

  • Bone spurs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Shoulder separation or dislocation
  • Tendonitis or torn tendons
  • Bursitis
  • Bone fractures
  • Arthritis

When to See a Doctor

Sudden shoulder pain, especially on your left side, may, at times, be a major sign of a heart attack. Call a local emergency number or dial 911 if you have crushing pain or sudden pressure on your shoulders.

This is especially true if your pain is running from the chest to the left neck, arm, or jaw and happens with sweating, dizziness, and shortness of breath. You should also visit your doctor if you have serious injuries and your shoulders are bleeding, bruised, painful, or swollen.


The ball-and-socket joints of your shoulders allow you to move freely. But that makes them susceptible to dislocation and injuries.

Any repeated stress from how you use the shoulders may result in tears as well as other injuries. Some of the symptoms you can observe as a sign of shoulder injuries are the following:

  • Deformed shoulder joints
  • Intense pain
  • Numb or weak hand/arm
  • Swelling shoulders


Your primary physician will first find out the main cause of the pain in your shoulders. During this time, your doctor will do some physical examinations and ask for your medical history.

They will assess your joint stability and range of motion. Imaging tests, like MRI or X-ray, will produce a detailed picture of the shoulders to help your doctor with the diagnosis.

Possible Treatments

If pain in your shoulders doesn’t go away within a few weeks of home remedies, your doctor may recommend several other alternatives. Some of these alternatives may include the following:

  • Occupation therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Steroid injections

To Wrap-Up!

Shoulders are complicated joints, making them susceptible to injuries and damage. Causes of pain in your shoulders may include wear & tear, injuries, and inflammatory conditions, like osteoarthritis. Proper treatment for your pain may differ depending on the cause of the issue.

If it is mild, you can treat it by applying some ice packs and resting. But if it is severe, you will need to see a doctor first to recommend the best treatment for your condition.

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