Shoulder pain can be uncomfortable and debilitating, ultimately affecting almost every part of the body. Regardless of what causes it, it can lead to pain and loss of mobility in the back, neck and arms, and if left unchecked, it can significantly limit your normal day-to-day activities and quality of life.
Shoulder pain falls into two broad categories:
- Pain that arises from the joint, muscles, ligaments or tendons in and around the shoulder. This kind of pain tends to get worse when the arm or shoulder is moved.
- Referred pain that is caused by a condition affecting another part of the body, such as the heart or gall bladder. The intensity of referred pain is usually not connected with movement of the shoulder or arm.
What are the causes of shoulder pain?
Shoulder pain that is accompanied by chest tightness or difficulty breathing could be a symptom of a heart attack, and immediate medical attention should be sought.
Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain include the following:
- A dislocated or separated shoulder
- Injury to the rotator cuff, which connects the upper arm to the shoulder
- A torn cartilage or ruptured tendon
- A broken arm or collarbone
- Conditions affecting the bones, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Sprains and strains
- Pinched or damaged nerves
- Hiatal hernia
The treatment of shoulder pain depends on what caused it. It is important to identify the root of the problem so that a long-term solution can be determined.