Shoulder Pain

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Shoulder pain, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatmentThe shoulder joint is one of the comments body joints involved in trauma, accidents and sports injuries. The pain associated with this joint can arise from the joint itself or any of the many surrounding muscles, ligaments, or tendons. Shoulder pain from the joint generally worsens with your arm or shoulder activity or motion.

Different circumstances and illnesses influencing chest or abdomen structures, such as gallbladder or heart disease, can also trigger pain in the shoulder. Referred pain is a generalized term used to describe shoulder pain that arises and radiates from another structure. This pain generally does not worsen when you move your shoulder.


There are many causes of pain in the shoulder, and all of them have their own distinctive set of symptoms.
Depending on the underlying cause, you may experience pain in the upper part of the arm, deep in the shoulder joint, or in the front or the back of the shoulder. The pain in the shoulder can sometimes be defined as a “catching pain.” The type and location of pain may be associated with the structure that causes the pain.

The common signs and symptoms of shoulder pain include;

  • Sharp, intense pain when moving your shoulder
  • Stiffness of the shoulder joint
  • A weakness of the shoulder/upper arm
  • Sensation of the joint slipping out and back into the joint socket,
  • Numbness and tingling sensations that run in the arms (this symptom is more likely to be linked with pinched nerves coming from the neck than the shoulder itself.
  • Lack of movement after a shoulder injury or dislocation (this is usually due to intense pain)
  • Tearing pain due to rotator cuff injury or trauma to the axillary nerve (both cause weakness in the arm and require close clinical examination)


The shoulder joint is a type of ball and socket joint, like hip joint, with a wide range of motion. A mobile joint like this tends to be more vulnerable to injury.

Shoulder pain may be caused by one or more of the following causes;

  • Overexertion strains
  • Tendonitis from overuse
  • Shoulder joint instability
  • Dislocation neckline
  • Upper arm bone fractures
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Pinched nerves (also called radiculopathy)


There are many ways to diagnose the underlying cause of shoulder pain. These include; X-rays – Plain X-rays may show narrowing between two spinal bones, tumors, slipped discs, arthritis-like illnesses, spinal column instability, narrowing of the spinal canal, and fractures.

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that can show neural element details as well as tendon and ligament issues.

Myelography/CT scanning: This is also a non-invasive way that can reveal what’s wrong with your shoulder. It is sometimes also used as an alternative to MRI.

Electrodiagnostic (EMG) studies: EMG and nerve conduction study (NCS) are sometimes used to diagnose arm pain, shoulder and neck pain, and numbness and tingling.


Soft tissue neck and shoulder pain therapy often involve the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). It may also be suggested to use pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Drugs such as muscle relaxants and even antidepressants may be useful depending on the source of pain.

Pain can also be reduced by locally applying moist heat or ice. Local injections of corticosteroids are often useful for shoulder arthritis. Surgical intervention may be required for conditions involving nerve roots or spinal cord such as sports injuries or herniated/bulging disks. Your physician will be able to tell you which therapy is best for you.
The conventional therapies used to treat shoulder pain include;

Activity Modification and Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is an essential step to treat your shoulder pain and tenderness. It is vital to strengthen the joint to preserve normal function of the shoulder. You may be taught exercises by a physical therapist to help prevent reccurring shoulder pain. Furthermore, it is essential to learn the proper ways to use the shoulder joint during the workout and put less pressure on the muscles of the rotator cuff to prevent future pain and discomfort.

Spinal Decompression Therapy

Decompression treatment is a non-operative program intended to relieve neck and back pain. The therapy utilizes a machine to stretch the spine slowly and gently. The idea is that pulling the spine will help remove stress from a compressed root of the nerve, thus helping to alleviate pain. Decompression therapy sessions are not a one-time treatment and generally spaced out over several weeks.

Chiropractic Care

People seeking relief from neck, shoulder or back pain frequently sought chiropractic care. Chiropractic relief of pain and discomfort is often achieved through manipulation and other treatments. Depending on the symptoms, gentle shoulder modifications can be made to distract the joint or move it forward or backward. Adjusting the displaced shoulder joint may involve the use of a reflex-type hammer instrument, manual adjustment, speeder board, and drop table pieces. Furthermore, adjusting the neck and upper back will also assist in relieving pain in the shoulder.

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