What Are Common Causes of Shoulder Joint Pain?

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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Shoulder joint pain can be common in some people. The shoulder is one of the most used areas of the body and has very little protection against moving it beyond the natural and safe range of motion. Common causes for shoulder pain include compression of the tendons under other bones, such as the scapula — also called the shoulder blade — and degenerative conditions such as arthritis. More serious problems, such as liver damage and angina, also can cause the body to perceive shoulder pain. Conditions such as neck problems, bad posture and torn parts of the bicep also can lead to shoulder joint pain.

One of the most common causes of shoulder joint pain results from moving the arm outside the safe range of motion. This can pull on muscles, ligaments and tendons and potentially tear them. This causes inflammation of the shoulder and swelling of the joint. This kind of shoulder pain can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication and a routine that does not strain the area.

Another problem that can cause shoulder joint pain is poor posture or strain on the neck muscles. Both of these problems can cause the muscles of the shoulder to work harder while trying to compensate for the muscles that are not being used properly. This can lead to inflammation of the shoulder joint that causes pain. Treatment involves exercises to improve posture and standard anti-inflammatory medications.


One cause of shoulder joint pain can be dislocation. This is where the actual bone in the arm, called the humerus, is physically forced out of its normal position in relation to the other bones. This leads to intense pain and a restriction in the movements of the shoulder. A dislocated shoulder joint can result from a sudden impact or prolonged strain. This condition needs to be treated by a medical professional who can push the bone back into correct alignment.

There also are diseases that can cause shoulder joint pain. As in any joint, arthritis can occur and corrode the protective tissue between the bones. This can cause chronic pain and inflammation of the area that can only possibly be cured with surgery. Heart problems such as angina also can, because of the location of the pain, be interpreted by the brain as shoulder joint pain.

One of the most common causes of shoulder joint pain is rotator cuff tendinitis. This is a condition in which tendon between the top of the humerus and the edge of the shoulder bone is pinched, causing it to swell. The greater the swelling, the more intense the pain. This can be treated with rest and over-the-counter pain medications but, in severe cases, might call for cortisone injections.



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