9 Different Types Of Shoulder Pain And Their Causes

Shoulders are the most mobile joints in your body and are made up of bones held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They all work together to make sure you can move in many different directions. This freedom also makes shoulders vulnerable to instability and injury. Excessive use and trauma can damage your shoulder causing severe pain in some cases. If you have shoulder pain, it’s best to consult your doctor immediately. Here are 9 different types of shoulder pain you might have experienced and their corresponding reasons.

1. Rotator Cuff Tears

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Your shoulder tendon could partially or completely tear either from repetitive motion or from direct trauma, like a fall. The pain of an acute tear, one that happens suddenly, can be excruciating. But shoulder pain, weakness, and stiffness of a chronic tear worsen slowly over time. So you often don’t notice when they begin.

2. Frozen Shoulder

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This condition causes severe stiffness and inability to move your shoulder the way you normally would, with varying levels of shoulder pain. Medically known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder results when the connective tissue that lines your shoulder joint becomes thickened and inflamed.

3. Shoulder Bursitis

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A common symptom of shoulder bursitis is a deep, achy soreness that feels hot and swollen. It is caused by the inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that provides a smooth surface for muscles and bones to glide over. The pain from bursitis is typically on the outside of your shoulder and it’s made worse when using your arm above your head.

4. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

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The rotator cuff keeps the ball of your upper arm bone centered in your shoulder socket and also helps you raise and rotate your arm. In a recent study, two-thirds of people with shoulder pain had a rotator cuff problem. Doing the same motion over and over again can lead to inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons, also called tendinitis.

5. Shoulder Impingement

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Shoulder impingement occurs after repeated overhead activity, like swimming. This results in shoulder tendons and bursa getting impinged, or pinched, between the bones of the shoulder, which makes it painful to move your arm. Overhead motion, reaching back, or lying on the affected side may worsen the symptoms.

6. Fractured Collarbone

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According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, collarbone fractures account for 5% of all adult fractures. Collarbone or clavicle fractures occur with trauma, like when you fall onto your shoulder or your outstretched arm. See a health care provider immediately if you have a collarbone fracture.

7. Shoulder Instability

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This condition occurs when the shoulder hurts because the ball of the joint is too loose and is able to slide around too much in the socket. Shoulder instability is commonly seen in throwing athletes, swimmers, or volleyball players. It usually happens when someone uses their shoulder a lot through its full range of motion.

8. Shoulder Pain Brought On By Heart Ailments

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that people who are at risk for heart disease may also be more likely to experience shoulder pain. Pain in the left arm or shoulder pain can be a symptom of an impending heart attack. The pain radiating from the chest can also cause the shoulder to hurt. If you think you’re having a heart attack, seek immediate medical attention.

9. Dislocated Shoulder

This is an extreme condition and occurs when the ball of the joint becomes so loose it actually comes out of the socket. Sometimes partial dislocation can also occur when the shoulder almost slips completely out of the socket but then pops back in. With this condition, the shoulder feels loose and slips in certain positions—often when their arm is raised over their head.