Sports, Pain​ & ​

Regenerative Institute

Shoulder Pain Q & A

You can injure your shoulder by performing manual labor, playing sports, or even by repetitive movement. Certain diseases can bring about pain that travels to the shoulder. These include diseases of the cervical spine (neck), as well as liver, heart, or gallbladder disease.


It is more likely to have problems with your shoulder as you grow older, especially after age 60. This is because the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder tend to degenerate with age. In many cases, you can treat shoulder pain at home. However, physical therapy, medications, or surgery may also be necessary.


Causes of Shoulder Pain

Most shoulder problems only affect a small area and should last a relatively short time. But sometimes the problem in your shoulder could be part of a wider, long-term condition such as, osteoarthritis or polymyalgia rheumatica.


It’s fairly common for people with rheumatoid arthritis to have pain and swelling in their shoulders. Osteoarthritis is less likely to affect your shoulders than other joints, unless you’ve injured them in the past.There are several other possible causes of shoulder pain, such as:

  • inflammation, where your shoulder becomes hot, red, swollen and painful as a natural reaction to an infection or injury
  • damage to the muscles and tendons around the shoulder
  • tension in the muscles between the neck and shoulder – this is usually down to your posture in your upper back or neck, and is often linked the way you stand or sit when you’re using a computer or at work
  • inflammation in the bursa – a fluid-filled cushion which normally helps the muscles and tendons slide smoothly over the shoulder bones
  • damage to the bones and cartilage, which can be caused by arthritis.

It’s also possible the pain you’re feeling in your shoulder is coming from a problem in another part ofyour body, such as your neck.


Problems in your neck can make your shoulder blade or upper outer arm painful. When this happens, it is known as referred pain or radiated pain. If you’re feeling a tingling sensation in your hand or arm, as well as pain in your shoulder, it’s likely to be from a problem in your neck.


Symptoms of Shoulder Pain

  • Depending on the cause of your shoulder pain, you may experience:
  • pain deep in the shoulder joint, in the back or the front of the shoulder and the upper part of the arm. Sometimes the pain in the shoulder can be described as a ‘catching pain’. The location and type of pain is likely to relate to the structure causing the pain
  • reduced movement, and pain when moving your shoulder.
  • weakness of the shoulder/upper arm. Depending on the condition, there may be a sensation of the joint slipping out and back into the joint socket, or the shoulder can become completely dislodged (dislocated)
  • sensations of pins and needles (tingling) and burning pain. This is more likely to be associated with nerves from the neck than the shoulder joint itself.
  • lack of movement after a shoulder dislocation. This is usually due to pain. Complete rotator cuff tears and injury to the axillary nerve both cause weakness in moving the arm away from the body. These problems require close clinical examination.