Are You Having Shoulder Pain?

What most people call the shoulder is really several joints that combine with tendons and muscles to allow a wide range of motion in the arm — from scratching your back to throwing the perfect pitch.

Photo Credit: NPS MedicineWise

Photo Credit: NPS MedicineWise

Mobility has a price, however. The complexity of the shoulder may lead to increasing problems with instability or impingement of the soft tissue or bony structures in your shoulder, resulting in pain. You may feel pain only when you move your shoulder, or all of the time. The pain may be temporary or continued, requiring medical diagnosis and treatment.

The Shoulder Pain: What is Causing the Pain?

There are 3 common causes of shoulder pain:

Soft Tissue Injury - Muscles, Tendons Strain/ Tear/ Inflammation

These injuries can be both acute and chronic. Acute muscles and tendon strains and tears can happen from a sudden quick movement and causes both pain and dysfunction. Chronic inflammation in the shoulders can lead to tendinitis and bursitis, which can cause swelling in the shoulder joint and irritation with overhead movements.

Joint Capsule Injury - Shoulder Instability, Labral Tear, Joint Sprains

This is commonly an acute injury where there is an episode of shoulder dislocation or subluxation causing a stretch in the ligaments stabilizing the joint capsule. This could lead to chronic shoulder instability, and even labral tears depending on the initial trauma.

Scapulothoracic Rhythm Dysfunction - SICK 

The scapulothroacic joint is where the shoulder blade sits on the ribcage. A common dysfunction that is seen with poor posture is "scapular winging", where the scapula is not stabilized, causing the spine of the scapula to protrude visibly. This issue arises due to tight pectoralis muscles and inhibition of the middle and lower trapezius muscles in the back.