It’s amazing how much you can come to truly appreciate a certain area of your body only after it’s compromised, which is often true of your shoulders. It's not until something goes wrong that you understand just how much you rely on your shoulders, for everything from eating dinner to the game of golf you look forward to on the weekends.
If you’re dealing with nagging shoulder pain and you want to get to the bottom of the problem, you’ve come to the right place. To get you started, the skilled team of musculoskeletal experts here at Advanced Spine Care and Pain Management assembled five different potential causes of shoulder pain here. Let’s take a look.
An inherently unstable joint
Before we get into the potential culprits behind your shoulder pain, it can be helpful to understand a little about this joint, starting with the fact that it’s inherently unstable.
Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint — the ball is the top of your upper arm bone (humerus) and the socket (glenoid) is located in your shoulder blade (scapula). The socket is very shallow, which is what allows the incredibly wide range of motion your arms enjoy. From scratching your back to swinging that golf club, your arms can move in almost every direction.
This wide range of motion comes at a price, however, as your shoulders are more susceptible to injury because of the natural instability.
Common drivers of shoulder pain
While we can’t present every possible cause of shoulder pain, we can cover the five that make up the majority of cases, which include:
1. Rotator cuff tear
To keep your humerus in the shallow socket in your shoulder blade, you have a band of muscles and tendons called the rotator cuff. One of the more common causes of shoulder pain is a rotator cuff tear, which is damage in these tissues.
Rotator cuff tears typically occur with repetitive use, which is why about 30% of people over the age of 60 have a rotator cuff tear.
Your shoulder features tiny, fluid-filled sacs called bursae that prevent friction. If one of these sacs becomes inflamed, it can lead to shoulder pain.
Repetitively using your shoulder in a certain way can lead to tendonitis, which is when these soft tissues develop tiny tears and inflammation.
4. Shoulder dislocation
This cause of shoulder pain is one that’s very hard to ignore as it can lead to fairly severe pain. As the name suggests, a shoulder dislocation occurs when the top of the humerus is forced out of the socket.
Aside from the pain, you won’t be able to move your shoulder much and you can likely see the problem from the outside.
Unfortunately, once you’ve had one shoulder dislocation, you’re more prone to chronic shoulder instability.
There are three bones that make up the shoulder — your humerus, your shoulder blade, and your collar bone. A fracture in any of these bones, which typically occurs due to acute trauma, can most certainly lead to shoulder pain.
Getting to the bottom of your shoulder pain
As we mentioned, the above isn’t a complete list, but it gives an idea of the many issues that cause shoulder pain. To really find out what’s behind your discomfort, you should come see us so we can review your symptoms and use advanced imaging to definitely diagnose the problem.
For relief from your shoulder pain, the first step is yours to make — contact us at one of our offices in Staten Island or Hartsdale, New York, to schedule an appointment.