Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can be caused by:

  • Rotator cuff tears (partial or full thickness)
  • Various types of arthritis (bone on bone)
  • Biceps tendinosis, avulsion, or dislocation
  • Labral tears or fraying
  • Instability
  • Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
  • Acromioclavicular arthritis (arthritis where the clavicle meets the shoulder)
  • Acromioclavicular joint instability
  • Fracture
  • Infection
  • Neck problems
  • Tumor
  • Scapulothoracic problems (bursa irritation, scapular winging)

Common symptoms of shoulder pain and discomfort include:

  • Pain with movement of the shoulder
  • Inability to lift the shoulder overhead
  • Pain on the side or front of the shoulder
  • Night pain, especially if trying to lie on that side
  • Pain while trying to put on a coat or shirt
  • Pain while trying to reach behind to scratch ones back
  • Pain when trying to throw a ball overhand style

Conditions related to shoulder pain

Here are a few of the medical conditions related to shoulder pain:

Brachial Plexus
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that originate near the neck and shoulder. These nerves begin at the spinal cord in the neck and control the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Pathology
The rotator cuff is the confluence of the tendons of four muscles that encompass the ball joint (humeral head) of the shoulder.

Shoulder Fractures
The shoulder is a joint suspended by many muscles surrounding the upper extremity.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, you should contact your doctor. Hand surgeons are specially qualified to diagnose and treat hand, elbow, and shoulder related problems.  The American Society for Surgery of the Hand can help you Find a Hand Surgeon in your area.

*Source:  © 2010 American Society for Surgery of the Hand.  Developed by the ASSH Website Committee -