Fix Your Shoulder (Complete Guide)

Shoulder is a very complex joint, and indeed the most useful one – and there are ton of reasons why you should be experiencing shoulder pain at least once in your lifetime.

1. Shoulder pain - why is it bothering you?

 Shoulder pain - why is it bothering you?

A doctor will tell you that shoulder is the most flexible joint in human body and there are many muscles in the body that can cause problems. Sometimes in case of shoulder pain, it is not easy to find a cause of the pain and it can be worrying by not knowing exactly what is wrong with your shoulder.

Research indicates that exact cause of the pain is not important to be able to deal with it effectively. Anyone suffering from it should know that it is rare for shoulder pain to be caused by some unknown serious medical problem.

Shoulder pain is a sign that joints and muscles of your shoulder are bruised, nervy or not working properly. Shoulder pain is not a rare thing to get: statistically about 1 out of 10 people experience it once at least in a life time.

The common place where you can feel the pain is front of the shoulder or sometimes in the part of the upper limb and it can be felt when moving the arm in certain angle. Many times, you don’t even feel pain when the arm is not moving but at night, you may feel pain when lying on sore side. The bottom line? The symptoms of shoulder pain vary with the causative agent or the origin of pain.

However, you must know that it is not shoulder pain if you feel that the pain is moving right down to your hand with tickling in your fingers. If it is so, it may be from a problem with your neck area.

In case it is bothering you, it is a wise idea to seek your doctor’s or other health professional’s help. They will ask you about your symptoms and examine the movement of your shoulder. In chronic cases when pain is not going away, your doctor may ask for X-rays. In case of noticeable acute injury or strain, your doctor may take some ultrasounds and blood tests to find the cause of shoulder pain. 

It Is Better See Your Doctor In Case of Following Circumstances:

Shoulder pain after a fall or accident

Shoulder pain is getting worse even when you are resting your shoulder

Shoulder pain is causing weight loss, fever or night sweats

In most cases, pain settles down fairly quickly and takes some weeks but the exact duration can differ among people according to their body structure. 50% people suffering from shoulder pain recover within six months. But there is a bad news for you: shoulder pain can return even after full recovery. You cannot exactly predict which case of shoulder pain will return and when will it be.

Contributors of Shoulder Pain

There are dozens of factors and conditions which can contribute to shoulder pain, largely based on the source of injury or insult, and the complete sequel of disease. But it is important to know that the most common cause is Rotator Cuff Tendinitis; a state where the muscles are inflamed.

Sometimes it is the result of injury to the neck or bicep or some other location in your body, and is called Referred Pain. This pain is similar to the shoulder pain but it doesn’t get worse upon movement of the shoulder and arms.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain Include:

  • Arthritis
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Pinched nerves
  • Broken shoulder bone
  • Broken arm
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Shoulder separation or dislocated shoulder 


How does the rotator cuff get hurt?

It is made up of 4 muscles that mount the arm bone. Your shoulder consists of arm bone and the shoulder blade. Shoulder is a flexible muscle because the joint socket is shallow which allows wide range of motion. What cuff does is, it keeps the shoulder stable and firm as you move the arms. Tendon travels underneath the bone on the outside of the shoulder called the supraspinatus muscle which rests on top of the shoulder. Supraspinatus muscle is the one that gets injured often because of its location between the shoulder bones. 

On the other hand, if rotator cuff is involved, the aching is outside of your shoulder. Lifting weight above your head or raising your arm triggers the pain. It is an annoyance because rotator cuff’s pain can be severe enough to keep you from doing even the simplest tasks, especially at night, it may wake you up.

Is Temporary Relief Possible?

Below are some simple stretching exercises to get some temporary relief as much possible. By doing few times a day while working to relax the neck and shoulder muscles and surely it will ease some pain:

Curve/Bend your head forward with chin on chest then back to original position.

Head forward, turn your neck to the right, and then bend it to the left. After that, back to your original position.

Bend head slightly backward, then to the original position.

Bend head forward chin to chest, then to the left and tilt head to the right.

These are some quick fixes to relieve acute shoulder pain within minutes. Further ahead in the eBook, we will discuss more ways for guaranteed pain relief with an in-depth approach.

Other commonly injured part of the shoulder that creates discomfort is the bicep muscle that is the part of the shoulder, and with some overuse injuries like hard work, you can get bicep tendinitis, which in result causes piercing pain right in front of the shoulder which often radiates into bicep muscles or even down towards the elbow. 

Most of the time we don’t even know what is the main source of pain. In some cases, just the physical trauma, stress, depression or any other tension can be the real culprit for the pain that is hurting your shoulder. 

Shoulder pain can come in various intensities and types owing to the major pathology behind your pain. It can be due to something as minute as stress and strain, or complicated as rotator cuff tear. If you have shoulder pain (regardless of not knowing the exact cause), read ahead to find out the various steps you can take to counter your pain effectively.

2. Source of shoulder pain

Whether you are suffering from acute shoulder pain or chronic, both make you uncomfortable. Neck and shoulder pains are a multi-faceted and multi-diagnostic problem; people who have pain generally have a hard time locating the pain beyond their shoulder, arms, forearms or their hand, i.e. it’s difficult to approximate its boundaries to help in diagnosis. 

So in the diagnosis of this, you have to get more certain about what maybe the pain-generating sources or cause of this type of pain. For instance, a pain may be muscular, related to a joint or the pain could simply be neurologic (related to a compressed nerve root of the neck, shoulder, the arm or your hand). 

To differentiate the pain-generating source is the first key step for further diagnostic testing and ultimate therapy. 

How to diagnose?

When you see a doctor because of neck shoulder and arm pain, the first examination is going to be regarding your neck. 

Is it tender? 

Do you have restriction of motion? 

Is there are particular motion that aggravates or relieves the pain?

This would point to a mechanical source of pain in the neck joints themselves. The shoulder joint is a multi-plane joint designed to operate as everyone knows: in a very circular manner. 

The first for this would be the doctor will ask you: do you have good vertical reach from the ceiling? Or can you reach across your arms and pat yourself on shoulder in the horizontal motion? If any of these restrictive, it may be the good idea as to do further evaluation of the shoulder joint itself. 

Bedside Diagnosis and Medical Treatments

In case of acute or chronic shoulder pain, bedside diagnosis doesn’t necessarily lead to surgical or medical treatment, but you can definitely initiate medical treatment on the basis of a bedside diagnosis by use of brief courses of all steroids and physical therapy. If this is unsuccessful, you may want to proceed with further diagnostic testing in the form of X-rays and MRI scans. 

You are suffering from chronic shoulder pain if it lasts longer than six months. As discussed in Chapter 1, conditions that can lead to chronic pain can be due to shoulder instability, shoulder arthritis or most commonly, rotator cuff disorders. There is a high chance if you are suffering from acute and chronic shoulder pain, it’s because of rotator cuff disorder. 

There are four main causes of soreness in your upper-arm joint and each has a unique treatment:

Tendonitis, arthritis, instability and fracture. 

What Triggers Shoulder Pain?

Because of the stability of the joint in the need for proper faction of these muscles, there are number of symptoms that can happen over time without an acute injury – probably the most common one out there is called impingement rotator cuff tendinitis. 

When tendons get inflamed, the muscles don’t function efficiently and most of us feel pain right over the upper part of the shoulder. This is one common cause of what doctors call referred pain, because the problem is in shoulder joint up there but people will feel the pain in joints elsewhere. 

Another commonly injured part of the shoulder is the bicep tendon that is the part of the rotator cuff, and with some overuse injuries, (whether it is work or gym) you can get bicep tendinitis. And that causes the sharp pain right in front of the shoulder and it often radiates into bicep muscles or even down towards the elbow.

The more acute injury of the rotator cuff is called tear. A tear occurs doe to an accident while skiing, fall, with a car accident or any other acute injury that tears the shoulder in such a way that rotator cuff tendon actually rips away from the bone. This acute injury requires surgical repair depending upon your age and activity level. 

There are injuries to rotator cuff that follow between tendinitis and tear, those are called partial tears, so in time someone uses the shoulder specially with overhead lifting or in laboring type-occupations, and the rotator cuff can wear-out over time and cause pain with this condition. Some of those injuries need surgery; some can be treated just like tendinitis with anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy as well as rest from the activities that are causing the pain. 

Another common group of injuries is the shoulder instability. So that’s true, any type of body instability where bones are not in their normal position relative to one another, either at rest or when you start to use them, can cause shoulder pain. The shoulder instability is often called dislocation that often happens from a traumatic injury such as fall, trying to tackle an opponent from football, or any other overhead type injury. As the arms come up, the bones can pop out of the socket causing what’s called dislocation injury.

Some Facts about Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are highly treatable if addressed early.

The problem is often the rotator cuff.

Disturbance in sleep can aggravate shoulder pain.

Exercise can help and hurt your shoulders if not performed properly.