Common Sources of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder has a wide and versatile range of motion. However, when something goes wrong with your shoulder, it prevents your ability to move freely, and can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that has three main bones: the humerus (long arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapula (also known as the shoulder blade). These bones are cushioned by a layer of cartilage. There are two main joints. The acromioclavicular joint is between the highest part of the scapula and the clavicle. The glenohumeral joint is made up of the top, ball-shaped part of the humerus bone and the outer edge of the scapula. This joint is also known as the shoulder joint.

A number of factors and conditions can contribute to shoulder pain. The most prevalent cause is rotator cuff tendinitis. This is a condition characterized by inflamed tendons. Another common cause of shoulder pain is an impingement syndrome where the rotator cuff gets caught between the acromion (part of the scapula that covers the ball) and humeral head (the ball portion of the humerus).

Shoulders get their range of motion from the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons. Tendons are the tissues that connect muscles to bone. It may be painful or difficult to lift your arm over your head if the tendons or bones around the rotator cuff are damaged or swollen.

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 of the neck, as well as liver, heart, or gallbladder disease. You’re more likely to have problems with your shoulder as you grow older. It is especially common after age 60. This is because the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder tend to degenerate with age.

Other causes of shoulder pain include several forms of arthritis, torn cartilage, or a torn rotator cuff. Swelling of the bursa sacs (which protect the shoulder), or tendons can also cause pain. Some people develop bone spurs, which are bony projections that develop along the edges of bones.

To learn more about shoulder pain and what could be causing it, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at either the East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200, or the Northwest Tucson office at (520) 382-8200,

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