Shoulder Neck Pain

10 Causes Of Shoulder Pain

10 Causes Of Shoulder Pain

Inflammation of shoulder muscle tendon

A rotator cuff is a group of shoulder muscles that help the upper arm to sit in the socket of the shoulder. The tendons of the rotator cuff can be inflamed by overuse or repetitive trauma. To improve the condition, it is important to avoid repetitive shoulder movement and strengthen the rotator cuff by prescribed exercises from physical therapists. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used for temporary pain relief.

Tear of shoulder muscle

This is a partial or complete tear of a shoulder tendon either from overuse or trauma. The management is similar to the tendonitis. In a severe case, the cortisone injection can be used for pain relief or surgery if there is a complete tear.

Inflammation of biceps tendon

The tendon of the biceps travels through the head of the upper arm. This tendon can be inflamed after a repetitive use causing deep, achy pain at the front of the shoulder. Treatment is rest, ice, heat, stretches and other modalities provided by physical therapists.

Pinched Nerve

The nerves branch out from our spine and when there is a pinched nerve travelling out from the neck region it is called cervical radiculopathy. When the spine goes out of the position or disc herniates, the nerves get pinched. This often presents as sharp pain, numbness, tingling down to the arm and tight and stiff shoulder. Treatment is heat & ice, rest and appropriate care from physical therapists.

Frozen shoulder

There is no identified cause of frozen shoulder but the good part of this condition is it will resolve itself eventually. People with frozen shoulder complains of stiffness and immobility. The severity of pain varies from person to person. Physical therapy can help to shorten the duration of the condition.

Wear and tear of the shoulder

As we age the bones in our shoulder region wear out just like the rest of our body. This is called degenerative joint disease which is coming from wear and tear of the joint. When the joint space narrows and two bones grind on each other, people will feel pain, stiffness and swelling over the shoulder with clicking sound. To manage the condition, avoid the motion that aggravates the symptom and use ice or heat to reduce the pain. Physical therapy can help with strengthening and stretching the muscles to restore the range of motion and manage the pain.

Neck Sprain

Neck sprain is a damage to the muscles or ligaments of the neck musculature usually after a whiplash. People can feel sharp, ache or swelling over the involved side neck and shoulder.

To manage the condition, apply ice, heat, rest, massage and stretches to minimise the pain.

Inflammation of shoulder bursa

Bursa is a small fluid sac within the shoulder joint which acts as a cushion and minimise the friction between the joints. When an individual overuses the joint, the bursa becomes inflamed. Some common presentations with bursitis are deep, achy, swelling and aggravated by overhead activities. Management includes ice, heat, rest and appropriate exercises and

stretches prescribed by the physical therapist.

Shoulder Instability

This is when the head of upper arm partially slips out of the shoulder socket causing pain and feels like the joint is going to give away. People with a history of dislocation or repetitive use of shoulder tends to have this condition. For instability, it is important to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles to stabilize the joint.

Thoracic outlet syndrome

The thoracic outlet is a space between the clavicle and first rib. When this space gets narrowed the vessels and nerves get pinched causing decreased blood flow into the arms or numbing of the fingers. This is best managed by physical therapists because the care can vary depending on the cause of the problem.


  1. Shoulder pain and common shoulder problems. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00065. Accessed May 10, 2018.
  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Common Shoulder Injuries,” “Dislocated Shoulder,” “Clavicle Fracture,” “Shoulder Joint Tear,” “Rotator Cuff Tears,” “Shoulder Impingement/Rotator Cuff Tendinitis.”
  1. 28 Causes of Shoulder Pain When Moving: Diagnosis and Relief. https://www.buoyhealth.com/current/28-reasons-for-shoulder-pain/. Accessed May 10, 2018.