Common Causes of Shoulder Pain and How to Treat Them

Shoulder pain is pretty common. After all, our shoulders do a whole lot for us—and they’re a little more complicated than you might think. Your shoulder is much more than just one muscle in your body, it’s a collection of muscles and tendons all working together to serve a purpose. That purpose? Moving and rotating your arm.

So, if you’re suffering from shoulder pain, it may be due to any number of things. To give you some clarity, we’ve written this blog for you. These are the four most common causes of shoulder pain—and what you can do about them.

Experiencing acute and unbearable shoulder pain as a result of an injury? Then it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor, or reach out to me for a consultation.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

This is the cause I see most often when treating shoulder pain in my patients. Your rotator cuff is a fairly complex set of muscles and tendons that help you shoulder rotate properly—and it is prone to overuse and injury.

Repeated motions involving your shoulder can lead to inflammation of the tendons. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain as a result of rotator cuff tendinitis, the best thing to do is adjust your workout routine or daily habits to avoid putting additional strain on this area.

Rotator Cuff Tears

Because we use our rotator cuffs so frequently, like whenever we reach to the top shelf to grab something or scratch a spot on our backs, they are also prone to tears. Rotator cuff tears may happen gradually as the result of prolonged strain and damage or suddenly due to an acute injury.

Treating a rotator cuff tear depends on its severity. Oftentimes, they can be treated with physical therapy and the use of NSAIDs. Only very serious tears require surgery.

Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder is technically known as adhesive capsulitis. It occurs when the connective tissue lining your shoulder joint becomes inflamed. We don’t understand exactly why this happens, but certain people are more prone to it.

For example, middle-aged women, people with diabetes, and those with Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. It typically takes about 18 months for a frozen shoulder to “thaw out.” You can possibly shorten that time by seeing a physical therapist.

Shoulder Bursitis

Unlike frozen shoulder, shoulder bursitis is characterized by an ache and soreness that feels hot to the touch. This occurs when the bursa, a fluid-filled sac beneath your muscles and bones, becomes inflamed. Overusing your shoulder muscles during sports or exercise may trigger bursitis, resulting in shoulder pain.

Bursitis is most commonly treated with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory pain relievers. However, depending on the severity of your pain and inflammation, they may also recommend physical therapy and cortisone injections.

Find Relief for Your Shoulder Pain

Are at-home solutions not working for your shoulder pain? There may be a deeper issue lingering below the surface. I can help you determine the cause of your pain and come up with a treatment plan that brings you relief.

Although I’m a professional and longstanding orthopedic surgeon in Raleigh, I always treat surgery as a last resort. I’ll work with you to come up with the right course of action for relieving your pain.