woman experiencing shoulder pain

What is Causing My Shoulder Pain?

Your shoulder is comprised of several bones and muscles coming together to create the joint, allowing flexibility and the wide range of motion your shoulder has to perform actions like throwing a ball, touching your toes or reaching for an object above your head. Due to its constant use, the joint can experience wear-and-tear, leading to problems with your range of motion and the stability of your shoulder. Shoulder pain can occur in several instances, including when you move a certain way, or don’t move at all. Persistent shoulder pain may require professional medical attention in order to develop a diagnosis and effective treatment plan.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

Many common shoulder problems can fall under the four core groups of shoulder pain:

Bursitis & Tendinitis

Bursitis can occur throughout your body but is common in the shoulder joint. Small sacs filled with fluid called bursa are located between bones and tissue to provide a buffer that prevents painful friction from occur. When the shoulder is overused, some of the bursa within a joint can become inflamed. This condition is common between the rotator cuff and shoulder blade. Bursitis is often diagnosed in tandem with tendinitis in the rotator cuff, which can make day-to-day activities painful and difficult. Tendinitis can also occur in joints in the body in the tendons, tissues that connect the bones to surrounding muscles. The two main subcategories of tendinitis are acute and chronic. Acute tendinitis is caused by overuse either through athletics or repetitive actions at work. Chronic tendinitis is a side effect of degenerative conditions including arthritis and RSIs.


Osteoarthritis is one of the most common conditions that affects the shoulder joint. Symptoms begin with stiffness, pain and swelling in the area and slowly develops over time. The condition can be related to acute sports or workplace injuries or chronic wear and tear as you age. Osteoarthritis can also develop as a result of joint inflammation, infection or tears to the rotator cuff and other tendons. If you are experiencing pain as a result of osteoarthritis and refrain from moving your shoulder to avoid flareups, your joint may begin to tighten which reduces your range of motion. Visit an orthopedic specialist when pain begins in order to begin treatment early and resume a painless life.

Joint Instability

Your shoulder may become unstable when the top arm bone is dislocated from its socket. Shoulder dislocations can be partial or complete and occur due to overuse or acute injuries, happening more often as the tissues and muscles around the shoulder socket tear. If your joint becomes unstable you may develop a heightened risk of developing arthritis.

Fractures & Bone Breaks

Broken bones are a common traumatic injury, with the collarbone, upper arm and shoulder blade the most common in the shoulder to be affected. Fractures occur more commonly after sports or vehicle accidents in younger patients but can happen in older patients after falls. If your shoulder has been fractured, you may experience swelling, bruising and extreme pain.

Are you experiencing shoulder pain? Visit your local OrthoNOW center for walk-in diagnosis and treatment in under one hour!

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