Your shoulder is a perplexed mixture of various joints, tendons and muscles which makes it capable of doing some pretty amazing things during your day-to-day activities, hobbies / sports and your job. The problem is that, as resilient as your shoulder joint is, it can become a source of pain for you if you aren’t careful with it. This pain could be temporary or might have some plans to live with you permanently if you ignore it long enough. That’s why today’s article is so important. We are going to cover the 5 most common reasons that could be causing the pain in your shoulder and a few ways on how to deal with it.
First, How the Shoulder Works
We understand that it’s not the most exciting topic, but understanding how the shoulder joint is built and works is crucial in helping you pinpoint where your pain is coming from. To start off, the shoulder consists of three major bones:
These are the humerus (which is the upper arm bone), the scapula (your shoulder blade) and your clavicle (your collarbone). The end of your humerus connects to your shoulder blade with the use of a socket often referred to as a glenoid. In order to keep the arm centered in the socket, it relies on several muscles and tendons, the major one being the rotator cuff. For more information on how the shoulder joint works, have a look at the following video:
Top 5 Reasons For Pain In Your SHoulder
Now that we’ve covered the bits and pieces that make up the shoulder joint and how it works, it’s time to cover some of the most commons things that could be causing your shoulder pain.
- Tendinitis – This is when the rotator cuff tendon becomes inflamed and irritated. This often occurs with overuse. Either you have a hobby/sport that requires constant use of your shoulders, or maybe it’s your job. A lot of times this injury can occur at the same time as bursitis, which will complicate both of these and cause pain throughout the shoulder.
- Bursitis – Often occurring at the same time (and compounding) tendinitis, bursitis is when the bursa sack (what lubricates the shoulder joint) stops releasing the right amount of lubrication, and there is more friction between the bones, ligaments and the tendons in your shoulder. This causes pain and friction that can make regular activities painful.
- Instability in the shoulder – If you have damage to your tendons and muscles, you can have instability in your shoulder that is caused by having a partial dislocation of the ball joint. This creates an unsteadiness in the shoulder itself (especially in carrying or lifting things). The more stress and impact that is done to those ligaments and muscles, the more likely that this can occur and recur.
- Tears of the rotator cuff – The rotator cuff could easily tear, but the severity of it depends on age, its cause and how its treated. This happens when the muscles and ligaments tear (partially or completely) and create significant pain, especially at night. If you have difficulty lifting things over your head, this could be a symptom of rotator cuff injury.
- Osteoarthritis – Common with age, osteoarthritis is when the cartilage that protects the end of your bones deteriorates and creates stiffness and pain, especially when reaching behind you. It often can be caused by an old injury or, more than likely, a simple aging process that takes place in the shoulder as it is used throughout life.
- Shoulder impingement – Shoulder impingement (or impingement syndrome) consists of damage/injury to the muscles between the bones of your shoulder. When you lift your arms to the height of your shoulder, the overall space between the cuff and the acromion starts to narrow. When this happens (and there is any damage to the area), the acromion can rub up (or affect) the bursa and tendons, which can cause you pain and irritation. Symptoms normally include problems reaching behind you or raising your arms above your head.
- Bone fracture – Shoulder fractures (to any of the major bones identified above) are normally caused by a nasty fall or high-impact collision (contact sports, car accident, etc.) and the main symptoms include extreme pain in the shoulder area, accompanied by bruising and swelling.
There are other reasons why you could be experiencing shoulder pain at the moment, however we wanted to touch on the most common reasons.
Shoulder Pain and 5 Ways to Get Some Relief
A chronic ache in your shoulder can make getting through the day a challenge, but there are things you can do to get some relief from the constant throbbing pain.
1. Shoulder Exercises
Our shoulders are intricate pieces of machinery. Three bones work together with a complex network of tendons and muscles so we can move our arms 360 degrees in any direction. Unfortunately, more moving parts means more can go wrong, but here are some quick exercises you can do for relief from shoulder pain.
Seated Twist – While sitting up straight in a chair, place your knees together. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and twist your torso towards the right. As you face right, relax your shoulders while pushing gently on your right thigh. Take a few deep breaths for about 15 seconds before releasing. Do three to five reps for each side.
Chest Expansion – You can use an exercise band, rope, strap, or tie for this one. Hold the band behind your back and grasp it firmly with both hands. Raise your chin towards the ceiling as you pull your shoulder blades towards each other while pushing your chest out. Take deep breaths while you hold this position for 10 – 15 seconds and then release. Complete 3 – 5 reps.
2. Heat Packs
A heat pack will improve circulation and relax stiff muscle tissue. Heat packs containing rice, gel, or even a hot water bottle are all suitable for applying heat and providing some relief and restored mobility. Do not use a heat pack to treat an acute injury.
3. Cold Packs
A cold pack will help reduce swelling if you have injured your shoulder in the last 48 hours but it can also help to dull the pain afterwards. Athletes often use ice to help minimize swelling and improve recovery times from gruelling training sessions. Even better, we suggest you try our ice compression wrap for shoulder (as seen below), which combines cold therapy and compression for better (and faster) results.
If you notice certain activities, such as golf or tennis, have been aggravating your shoulder, then your body is trying to tell you to take a break. (It’s time to listen to your body). Put the golf clubs and tennis rackets away for a week and give your shoulders time to heal.
5. Strength Training
When you have your shoulder pain under control, you could try building strength in that area with an exercise regime. Strength training exercises will build muscle in your shoulder, which will help keep everything in the right place. Aerobics training will also improve blood circulation. If you are a smoker, your habit may be reducing the amount of blood flow to the injured tendon so now is as good a time as any to kick the habit.
Shoulders can take a while to heal, but the earlier you start treatment, the more success you will have. The worse thing you can do is to ignore. If your shoulder doesn’t improve in a reasonable amount of time, chances are there is physical damage that needs a professional’s attention. Always consult your doctor for advice and follow their recommended treatments to get the pain under control. Are you suffering from shoulder pain, or maybe you did in the past? We’d love to hear from you. What works for you and what doesn’t? Please leave a comment below. Until next time, keep an eye out for new posts in the Shoulder Pain section of our Blog.
Disclaimer – We are not doctors here at SimplyJnJ. The information posted above about the Top 5 Reasons For Pain In Your Shoulder, was posted for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for any sort of pain you may be experiencing.