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Causes of Shoulder Pain

Main Causes of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is a highly
complex and delicate joint, and when something goes wrong in one of its components, there is usually pain.

It is often a dull and aching pain, but sometimes it can be excruciating.

There are several causes of shoulder pain, but the most common is
Bursitis and rotator cuff tendonitis - also known as impingement syndrome -  which is caused by inflammation.

A rotator cuff tear is a common injury to one of the rotator cuff tendons.

It is estimated that 70 percent of the population sustain a rotator cuff tear by the age of 80.

There are two causes: repetitive injury or traumatic injury. Frozen shoulder syndrome (also known as adhesive capsulitis) is less common. The shoulder capsule becomes stiff and scarred, limiting motion of the joint.

Calcific tendonitis is caused by calcium deposits within the tendons of the shoulder.

Its cause and presentation is very similar to rotator cuff tendonitis, and occurs due to repetitive micro-trauma to the tendon.

The above shoulder pain conditions tend to be chronic and develop gradually. Sometimes a specific cause can be found, but they often appear out of nowhere.

Aging and related thinning and wearing away of the supporting tissues are associated with these conditions.

Drops in certain hormones have also been associated with some of these conditions, specifically thyroid hormones and sex hormones (frozen shoulder, specifically, occurs in men between the ages of 40-to-60 years old, but more often in women).

Trauma-related injuries

More spectacular are the trauma-related injuries. A shoulder dislocation is a loss of contact between the top of the humerus (the upper arm bone) from the scapula (shoulder blade). It usually results from a traumatic injury.

A shoulder separation is different from a dislocation. A separation occurs when there’s a disturbance at the point where the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collarbone) come together.

Shoulder instability causes looseness in the joint. It can develop spontaneously or after a traumatic injury to the shoulder.

A labral tear occurs when some of the supporting tissue around the shoulder socket develops a rip. A SLAP lesion is a specific type of labral tear, often the result of catching oneself with an outstretched arm during a fall. A biceps tendon rupture is a rupture of the tendons which attach the bicep to the shoulder joint.

While these conditions usually appear in younger sportier people, often as a result of athletic activities, they can occur in older people, too.

While the more chronic conditions like rotator cuff tendonitis may appear gradually, a shoulder dislocation causes immediate and often dramatic pain and curtailment of movement.

Another cause of pain is
arthritis in the shoulder. This is rare and usually caused by wear and tear on the joint (osteoarthritis) or by inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis).

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