What is shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is any pain or discomfort affecting the shoulder or surrounding areas. The shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint and enables the arm to have a wide range of motion. Shoulder pain is very common, and most people will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives.

The shoulder consists of the upper arm bone (humerus), collarbone (clavicle), and shoulder blade (scapula), along with muscles, ligaments and tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. Any of these structures can become irritated, injured or inflamed resulting in shoulder pain. For example, shoulder pain can be due to minor muscle strains, repetitive use injuries, and repeated overhead motions, such as pitching a baseball game.

A common traumatic cause of shoulder pain is a tear of the rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons that hold the arm bone (humerus) in place in the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff creates the arm’s range of motion. When the rotator cuff is damaged, you may experience shoulder pain or weakness when moving your arm.

Shoulder pain can also result from serious conditions, such as an infection, tumor, nerve condition, arthritis, or even a heart attack. Depending on the underlying cause, shoulder pain may last briefly or persist for weeks. It may feel like a dull ache, or it may be sharp and jolting in a specific area.

Generally, shoulder pain caused by a minor condition, such as a small muscle strain, resolves by itself in a few days or weeks with basic self-care measures, such as icing the shoulder, resting the shoulder, and taking over-the-counter pain medications.

Because shoulder pain can be a symptom of a condition that requires medical treatment, you should seek prompt medical care for unexplained shoulder pain. In some cases, shoulder pain is a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care, such as a heart attack or shoulder dislocation. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have a new shoulder deformity or are unable to move the affected arm. Other serious symptoms include chest pain, jaw or neck pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and sweating.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Shoulder pain may originate in the shoulder itself or may be caused by conditions that affect other body areas, such as the neck, abdomen, chest, or upper arms.... Read more about shoulder painsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions that cause inflammation, infection, nerve compression, or injury of the shoulder. Common causes of shoulder pain include arthritis and injury caused by excessive, repetitive, or overhead motions that involve the shoulder, such as occurs with baseball pitching or construction work.... Read more about shoulder paincauses

Medical Reviewer: Williiams, Robert, MD Last Annual Review Date: May 24, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


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