Right and Left Shoulder Pain Causes - 10 Important Reasons
The shoulder is one of the frequently used intricate joint that is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and when there is any injury or damage to one of these, it can cause shoulder pain.
However, the reasons for shoulder pain are plenty. It could be due to an injury, a medical condition such as arthritis, or even something as simple as poor posture. As shoulder pain can be a serious concern for people, understanding the cause and undergoing the necessary treatment is crucial.
Some are looking to understand the causes of left shoulder pain causes while others are looking to learn about the causes of right shoulder pain causes. This post brings up a few common causes of shoulder pain in general.
Common Symptoms of Shoulder Pain
When you have shoulder pain, it may not come alone. The following symptoms are accompanying discomfort that tells you about the condition:
- Sharp and sudden pain in the shoulder
- Limited movement of the affected arm and neck
- Stiffness in the shoulder
- Losing flexibility of shoulder
- Experiencing weakness in the affected shoulder
- Muscle spasms and pain
- Shoulder bruises or swelling
- Loss of function of your shoulder or arms
Causes of Shoulder Pain
Although many people do not take shoulder pain seriously for various reasons, knowing what causes it is integral in charting the treatment course.
The ten most common causes of shoulder pain and associated discomfort are:
A common condition, tendonitis, is prevalent in people who indulge their shoulders in continuous motion activities. A few good examples are people involved in commercial painting and sports persons, especially tennis or basketball players. Tendonitis is also common in people who do a lot of work on computers. In tendonitis, inflammation occurs in the shoulder due to the constant engagement of the shoulder tendons.
The effect on tendons while engaging in these activities may be hidden. Therefore, it is advised that people involved in these types of professions or activities exercise caution. Also, resting your shoulder for a couple of minutes regularly can give you relief from a lot of trouble.
- Shoulder Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease occurring as the cartilage pillowing the joints deteriorates. Normal wear and tear on the joints or an injury can cause it. Likewise, another disease is rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks the tissues around the joints. This leads to inflammation and pain.
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause stiffness, limited range of motion, and pain in the shoulder.
Treatment for shoulder arthritis often includes medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.
- Dislocated Shoulder
Another common reason for shoulder pain is dislocation shoulder. Unlike most other joints, the shoulder is a complex structure that makes limb movements possible. Unfortunately, it also risks injuries.
A dislocated shoulder happens when the ball of the shoulder joint pops out of its socket. There are different reasons for this, but usually, it is due to a fall or an impact on the shoulder. This can be a very painful injury, and it may take some time to recover.
If you have had a previous injury to the shoulder, you may be more likely to experience a dislocation.
Treatment for a dislocated shoulder typically involves wearing a sling to keep the arm in place while it heals. Surgery is sometimes necessary to fix the problem, but this is usually only done in cases with significant joint damage.
- Separated Shoulder
A shoulder separation occurs when the ligaments attaching the collarbone to the shoulder joint are torn. This can happen due to a fall, direct blow, or sudden impact. This type of shoulder injury is common in sports like gymnastics, polo, and horse riding, where chances for impactful falling are more.
Symptoms of a separated shoulder include pain, swelling, and bruising. The arm may also sag at the side.
Treatment typically involves rest, ice, and elevation of the affected arm. A typical shoulder injury can recover within two to twelve weeks without surgery. Surgery may be necessary only in some cases, and in such cases, the recovery period may be more.
- Frozen Shoulder
The most common reason for shoulder pain is a "frozen shoulder." This condition occurs when the connective tissues that surround the shoulder joint become inflamed and stiff. It can also happen to people with a history of severe shoulder injuries due to accidents or falls.
The inflammation may result from an injury, such as a rotator cuff tear. It can occur without an identifiable cause. A frozen shoulder typically develops slowly over time and is characterised by pain and loss of motion in the affected shoulder.
Treatment for a frozen shoulder usually involves a combination of physical therapy, medications, and sometimes corticosteroid injections.
- Rotator Cuff Tear
Another common reason for shoulder pain is a rotator cuff tear.
A rotator cuff (band of tendons and muscles) connects the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone. With the help of these tendons and muscles, you lift your arm. A rotator cuff tear can happen due to an injury, overuse, or age-related wear and tear. This injury, too, is common in sports where the chances of falling are high.
Pain when lifting the arm, distress on the affected side when lying, and weakness in the arm are major symptoms of a rotator cuff tear.
Treatment for a rotator cuff tear may include rest, ice, and physical therapy. Surgery may also be necessary in some cases.
- Bad Posture
Bad posture is a major reason for shoulder pain and can lead to injuries. However, many do not realise this and don’t work on improving their posture, which results in further aggravation of the injury.
Poor posture puts unnecessary stress on your shoulders and neck, leading to pain. To help prevent this, manage your posture and sit up straight. Also, ensure that you keep your shoulders back. Using laptops or mobile phones for long durations without taking a break can put additional stress on your cervical spinal discs, tendons and muscles on your back. This can cause slouched posture and pain in your shoulders.
Additionally, don't hunch over when you walk or stand. When sitting for a long time, take frequent breaks to move around and stretch your shoulders.
- Carrying Heavy Objects
While this might seem a little obvious, carrying heavy objects can seriously cause your shoulder to hurt, ligaments to break, and muscles to tear.
Each element of the shoulder joint must work together for the shoulder to work as it must.
However, when carrying heavy objects, the object's weight can pull on the muscles and tendons, causing them to become strained or stretched.
This can lead to pain in the shoulder. Carrying a heavy object regularly can also cause the muscles and tendons to become weak over time.
It can also become worse if these tendons and muscles break. This eventually can make the pain worse.
- Brachial Plexopathy or Shoulder Nerve Damage
It happens when a network of nerves on the front of your shoulder, called the brachial plexus, is damaged. There could be several reasons for this damage, including shoulder injury, fall, accident, or other medical conditions.
The symptoms of this type of damage may include sharp and extreme pain in the shoulder, hand, or arm. The pain may be recurring or stay for a long time. Due to this, your hand may become weak or numb, making it difficult to use the arm.
It is important to seek the help of a qualified medical practitioner when this happens. Based on your medical history and other factors, diverse treatment plans and medications can be adopted to cure the same.
- Pinched Neck Nerve
Cervical radiculopathy or pinched neck nerve is a condition in which a pinched nerve on the back of your neck is squeezed by the bones surrounding the same. This usually happens to a nerve that branches out from your spinal cord.
This condition and associated shoulder pain is a constant complaint of computer professionals sitting for long hours. There are many reasons for this to happen. It can happen due to an accident or injury to your neck. Age-related issues can also cause this.
The symptoms can range from neck and shoulder pain leading to arm numbness. Treatments are available based on the medical history of the patient. And shoulder and neck exercises with a healthy sitting posture are advised for people working on computers.
Treatments Options for Shoulder Pain
There are many simple home remedies that you can try if your shoulder pain is not very severe. Here are a few home remedies for shoulder pain:
- Take enough rest and stop whatever is straining your shoulder.
- Use ice on the area where you experience pain daily for 10 to 15 minutes.
- If there is swelling, use a warm bandage on the area to alleviate the swelling.
- Take over-the-counter medications to manage pain.
- Try applying ointment or other gels on the affected area.
- Try gently stretching your shoulders and indulge in mild exercise to relax muscles.
Exercise to Manage Shoulder Pain
You can do exercises to improve shoulder flexibility and reduce stiffness if you think the pain is not severe. Your muscles or joints may be overworked for once, which hurts because you are not used to such exertions.
In these cases, adopting stretching focusing on your shoulder or neck can help you alleviate the pain and reduce the swelling.
You may use the following stretches to manage common shoulder pain:
- Crossover Arm Stretch
- Triceps Stretch
- The Shoulder Stretch
- Pendulum stretch
- Armpit stretch
Surgical methods to cure shoulder pain
Depending upon the situation and severity of the condition, doctors may suggest various surgical methods to cure shoulder pain.
Here are some of the most common surgical methods to cure shoulder pain:
- Rotator cuff repair surgery : In this type of surgery, the damaged area in the rotator cuff is identified. Then the injured tendons or muscles in the area are cleaned and reattached.
- Shoulder replacement : Here, the natural shoulder socket and ball are removed and replaced by an artificial shoulder ball and socket. This is the best treatment for patients with extreme arthritis and shoulder injuries.
- Arthroscopy : This is the best surgical treatment for a frozen shoulder. Diverse methods are adopted during the surgery to ensure that the patient does not experience a frozen shoulder anymore.
- Acromioclavicular joint repair : This is an adept surgical method for those who suffer from shoulder pain due to arthritis, injuries, or fractures. An arthroscope is used to conduct the surgery, and the end of the collarbone is removed.
Lifestyle changes for shoulder pain
There are several effective lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce shoulder pain if the pain is not due to any serious underlying conditions. Some of the lifestyle changes that you can bring into your life are:
- Eat healthy food
- Keep your weight in healthy ranges
- Take regular breaks while working on computers
- Develop a routine exercise regime
- Stay active and sleep well
Although shoulder pain is common, one must seek adequate medical help when the pain prolongs or is severe. Ignoring it for a long time can make it incurable, or living in constant pain can affect the quality of your life and productivity. Hence, you must seek adequate medical care when needed.
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