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:

  1. Sharp and sudden pain in the shoulder
  2. Limited movement of the affected arm and neck
  3. Stiffness in the shoulder
  4. Losing flexibility of shoulder
  5. Experiencing weakness in the affected shoulder
  6. Muscle spasms and pain
  7. Shoulder bruises or swelling
  8. 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:

  1. Tendonitis
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10.  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

Home Remedies

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:

  1. Take enough rest and stop whatever is straining your shoulder.
  2. Use ice on the area where you experience pain daily for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. If there is swelling, use a warm bandage on the area to alleviate the swelling.
  4. Take over-the-counter medications to manage pain.
  5. Try applying ointment or other gels on the affected area.
  6. 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:

  1. Crossover Arm Stretch
  2. Triceps Stretch
  3. The Shoulder Stretch
  4. Pendulum stretch
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. Eat healthy food
  2. Keep your weight in healthy ranges
  3. Take regular breaks while working on computers
  4. Develop a routine exercise regime
  5. 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.

If you are looking for a medical practitioner to offer you holistic treatment for your shoulder pain, you can find the best on HexaHealth, a platform that brings some of the best doctors and healthcare institutes in the country. The platform supports diverse healthcare philosophies, including Ayurveda. The platform uses an advanced AI engine to help users find the best doctors, treatment options, hospitals, and insurance plans for their treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can gas cause back and shoulder pain?

While gas may not directly cause back and shoulder pain, the pain in the abdomen can spread to the back and shoulder. And it can be severe at times, as well.

Can Invisalign cause shoulder pain?

Yes, it can. Wearing Invisalign adds pressure to your jaw, which may be referred to as your neck and shoulder, causing the shoulder to hurt.

Can gas cause shoulder pain?

Trapped gas is not known to cause shoulder pain directly. However, the pain caused by the trapped gas may get transferred to your shoulder, neck and back from your abdomen.

What diseases cause shoulder pain?

Some common health conditions that can cause shoulder pain are osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

How do I know what type of shoulder pain I have?

One way to know about the type of shoulder pain is to observe the pain and look at your medical history. However, the best way is to consult a qualified doctor.

What are two warning signs of a rotator cuff tear?

Disturbing pain in your upper arm and shoulder is the typical warning of a rotator cuff tear. Worsening pain when you are trying to reach backwards is another warning.

Will shoulder pain go away?

Yes, it can. However, you may need some home remedies, exercise, or consult doctors to reduce the pain.

Can shoulder pain be a symptom of something else?

Yes, it can be. You need to consult a doctor to understand the actual reason behind your shoulder pain. Based on the diagnosis, you can then undergo the required treatment.

How do you fix shoulder pain?

There are many ways to fix shoulder pain. You can take home remedies or OTC medications if the pain is not severe. Some of the shoulder pain will go away by doing exercises or correcting your posture (sitting and sleeping position). To take care of other types of shoulder pain, you must consult a doctor and seek medical attention.

Can stress cause shoulder pains?

Yes, stress can cause shoulder pain. Stress can result in anxiety, which can cause shoulder inflammation. When prolonged, this can lead to serious and constant shoulder pain.

Can shoulder pain be related to heart problems?

Yes, shoulder pain can be related to an undelaying heart condition. Therefore, when you experience shoulder pain, you should consult a doctor and undergo the necessary treatments.

What are three common shoulder injuries?

Tendonitis, shoulder osteoarthritis, and rotator cuff tear are the three most common shoulder injuries.

Is shoulder pain a symptom of cholesterol?

Although the correlation between cholesterol and shoulder pain is very weak, getting your cholesterol checked if you have any doubts is a good idea to be on the safer side.

Does high blood pressure cause shoulder pain?

While high blood pressure may not directly cause shoulder pain but can indirectly cause it, however, consult a doctor to find the reason for your shoulder pain and treat the same accordingly.

What organs can cause right shoulder pain?

Swollen and inflamed gallbladder and liver damage can cause right shoulder pain.

What are the causes of shoulder pain in females?

The causes of shoulder pain in males and females are almost similar. However, depending upon pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, females may experience different types of pain, including shoulder and neck pain.

What causes pain in both shoulders and upper arms?

The pain may be due to any injury to the shoulder joint or its constituents like ligaments, muscles, tendons, or bones.

What is the most common cause of shoulder pain?

There are many causes of shoulder pain. However, the most common causes are injuries due to accidents like falling or dislocation.

How can I tell if shoulder pain is serious?

The shoulder pain could be serious if you cannot move your arms or shoulders or sleep due to pain. The best course of action is to consult a doctor.

Why does my shoulder hurt without an injury?

There could be several medical reasons for your shoulder pain. It could be a rotator cuff injury, arthritis, frozen shoulder, osteoarthritis, etc. However, only a thorough checkup can give you the reason. Hence, consult a doctor who can help you.

About the Author

HexaHealth Care Team

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