What Is Making My Shoulder Hurt? — RecoverFit
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What Is Making My Shoulder Hurt?

What Is Making My Shoulder Hurt?

If your shoulder pain is persistent or is accompanied by other symptoms such as trouble speaking, swallowing, dizziness or uncontrolled eye movement, numbness & weakness into the arms, fever, redness, or warmth, or you have lost a significant amount of weight in the last 6 weeks and you’re having night sweats that are unexplained, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, as these may be signs of a more serious condition. You should always consult a health care profession for assessment and management - this is intended as general advice and information.

Some common shoulder problems along with a brief explanation of each:

Rotator cuff tear: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that help to centralise the arm bone in its socket during movement. A rotator cuff tear is a tear in one or more of these tendons, which can cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. Treatment should include rest, physiotherapy strengthening and range of motion exercises, and, in severe cases, surgery.

Frozen shoulder: Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition in which the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint becomes thick and stiff, causing pain with limited range of motion. The exact cause of adhesive capsulitis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be caused by inflammation and thickening of the shoulder joint capsule, which surrounds and encloses the shoulder joint. Several factors have been identified as potential contributors to the development of adhesive capsulitis, including: Trauma, Prolonged immobilisation such as after surgery or injury, Diabetes, Thyroid disorders, or other metabolic conditions, Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hormonal imbalances, Genetic predisposition.

Shoulder “impingement” or Shoulder Pain: Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons and/or bursae in the shoulder become inflamed and or thickened and often calcified. This can cause pain, usually at the front of the shoulder and can spread down the arm along with movements of the shoulder especially lifting the arm up from your side, typically between 80° - 115°. Pain inhibits muscle and can therefore cause weakness, and limited range of motion.

Bursitis: Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae, or fluid-filled sacs, that are interwoven through the structures surrounding the shoulder joint. This can cause pain and swelling in the shoulder. This causes similar symptoms to shoulder impingement and can be differentiated by diagnostic ultrasound. Often there can be repeated trauma either from impact or repetition, eg. rugby tackling or swimming.

Labral tear: The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint, helping to provide stability and cushioning of the arm bone in the socket of the shoulder. A labral tear is a tear in , which can cause pain, instability, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. Treatment may include rest, physical therapy, and, in severe cases, surgery.

Arthritis: Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect any joint in the body, including the shoulder joint. Symptoms may include pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. Treatment may include pain management with anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and, in severe cases, joint replacement surgery.

Shoulder dislocation: A shoulder dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone comes out of the shoulder socket. This can cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. Treatment may include putting the shoulder back into place, immobilisation of the arm in a sling, and, in some cases, surgery.


It's important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of possible shoulder problems. If you are experiencing shoulder pain or other symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Previous article Shoulder Impingement: Tips & Tricks

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This article has been written by Adey, 
RecoverFit Physiotherapist.

Adey Saunderson 

BSc MCs MHCPC MCSP

Having worked in professional sport for over 10 years, which included the Rugby Premership and The English Football League, Adey has a wealth of experience with dealing with injury and rehabilitation in the sports world. His desire, commitment, people skills and knowledge are why he has a great reputation in the clubs and teams he has been involved with. Alongside working for RecoverFit, Adey also works in the military as a physiotherapist. 

DISCLAIMER: The content provided in these articles is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. The advice and tips shared in these articles are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in these articles. The author and publisher of this blog are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any suggestions, recommendations, or procedures described in these articles.