Shoulder pain - causes, diagnosis and treatment

Published At: 14 January 2020 , 11:25 AM

The shoulder is a ball joint that has three main bones: the humerus (long arm bone), the collarbone and scapula, as well as a wide range of motion. A layer of cartilage encloses these bones. There are two main joints: the acromioclavicular joint located between the upper part of the scapula and the clavicle, and the glenohumeral joint consists of the top, spherical part of the humerus and the outer edge of the scapula. This joint is called a shoulder joint.

 The shoulders receive a range of motion from the rotating cuff. The rotator cuff consists of four tendons. 

Tendons are the tissues that join bone to muscle.

If one of these components is damaged, pain, and discomfort in the shoulder may occur.

You can injure your shoulder by doing physical manual labor while playing sports. More likely to have shoulder problems as they grow older, especially after 60 years.

In addition to pain, the following symptoms may occur:

the feeling of numbness;

limited mobility of the joint;

the constant tension of muscles adjacent to the collective;

joint deformation.


Often, shoulder pain occurs in people who engage in sports such as tennis, hockey, volleyball, and golf, because through the repetition of movements, the shoulder joint acquires the ability to wear out faster. Also, pain can occur due to mechanical damage or injury. Common injuries:


If the shoulder is pulled back too much or pulled too far, the upper arm may pop out of the socket. You can feel pain and weakness in the shoulder. Swelling, numbness and bruising may also occur.


This injury affects the joint, where the collarbone and scapula are combined. It is called an acromioclavicular (variable) joint. A fall or heavy blow breaks the ligaments. If the clavicle pushed out, a lump appears on the shoulder.


The bone may break or crack from a fall or a sharp blow. The most common breaks are the clavicle and humerus (arm bones closest to the shoulder). There will be severe pain and bruising; there will be no opportunity to raise a hand.

Cartilage damage

You can injure the cartilage (rubber pad) that goes around the rim of the shoulder joint. This is due to repeated movements or falling. With this type of injury, you can feel pain, with your arms raised, and your shoulder may seem weak.

Rotator cuff

A rotating cuff is a group of muscles and tendons on the shoulders that holds the arm in place and allows you to lift it. You can damage it due to excessive use or falling, and this joint also begins to wear out with age. The shoulder can hurt at night and when trying to lift something.

Frozen shoulder

This condition restricts joint movement. Abnormal bands of tissue (adhesions) accumulate in the joint and prevent it from moving freely. The shoulder may "freeze" because pain or surgery causes less use, which will allow adhesions to heal.


Bursa (a bag filled with fluid) can swell if repeated movements made. But it can also be caused by a fall or other injury.


Tendonitis characterized by inflammation of the tendons, which, together with the muscles, provide the ability of the shoulder joint to move along different axes.

Shoulder pain can occur not only as a result of mechanical damage but also as a result of inflammatory diseases of the spine and neck, various disorders of the immune system and conditions of the kidneys, liver, and heart.


This is called degenerative joint disease, the most common form of arthritis. It can affect any joint, including the shoulders. The cartilage between the bones collapses, and they rub together. This can cause pain and stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This is a disease due to which the body's immune system attacks the protective membrane in the joints. It can cause pain and stiffness in the shoulders.

Inflammatory diseases of the body

Often pain in the shoulder joint is a consequence of an infection of the gallbladder or liver, as well as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Heart disease

Shoulder pain may be due to coronary heart disease.


To establish a diagnosis, the doctor will conduct a physical examination and ask about the medical history, as well as the symptoms that have arisen. The following diagnostic methods used:

Radiography: simple radiographs can detect a narrowing of the space between the two bones of the spine, arthritis-like diseases, tumors, sliding disks, reduction of the spinal canal, fractures, and instability of the spinal column.

MRI: magnetic resonance imaging: this is a non-invasive procedure that allows you to reveal the details of neural (nerve-related) elements, as well as problems with tendons and ligaments.

During what diseases manifested

Shoulder pain will appear with such diseases:



torn rotator cuff;

swollen bags of bursa or tendon;

spinal cord injury;

heart attack;

stones in the kidneys;


rheumatoid arthritis;

gouty arthritis.

Which doctor to contact

If there was no serious injury or sudden, continuous pain on the eve, you could usually treat shoulder pain without going to a doctor. However, if after two weeks of treatment, the pain has still not disappeared, you should consult a physiotherapist.

Be sure to consult a doctor if:

severe pain in both shoulders

also, pain in the hips;

fever or malaise;

These may be signs of a condition that requires surgical treatment.


Simple shoulder exercises can help stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. The physiotherapist can show how to do them correctly.

If you have problems with your shoulders, use ice for 15 minutes after exercise to prevent injury.

After bursitis or tendonitis, daily performing simple exercises aimed at movement, you can avoid freezing the shoulder.