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Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is one of the most mobile and intricate joints in the body. It’s made up of a complex interplay of muscles, tendons, and bones, which allows a vast range of motion. However, this complexity also makes it susceptible to various problems. If you've experienced shoulder pain, understanding its common causes can help in addressing and managing it.

Here are some main sources of shoulder discomfort:

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that secure the head of your upper arm bone into the shoulder socket. Overuse or sudden trauma can cause tears or inflammation in these tendons, resulting in pain and limited movement.

  2. Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): This condition involves stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, often developing slowly over time, and can limit the shoulder’s range of motion significantly.

  3. Tendonitis: Overuse or age-related wear can lead to inflammation of the tendons, particularly those of the rotator cuff. This causes a dull ache, especially when moving the affected arm.

  4. Bursitis: The bursae are tiny, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues. Inflammation of the bursa in the shoulder can result in pain, especially during overhead activities.

  5. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, the most common form of shoulder arthritis, involves the wear-and-tear of cartilage. It causes pain, swelling, and reduced mobility.

  6. Fractures (Broken Bone): A hard fall or trauma can result in fractures of the shoulder bones, especially the collarbone or upper arm bone. Pain, swelling, and bruising are typical symptoms.

  7. Dislocation: If the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, it can cause dislocation. This injury causes intense pain and an unusual appearance of the shoulder.

  8. Nerve Compression: In conditions like cervical radiculopathy, nerves originating from the neck can be compressed, leading to pain, tingling, or numbness radiating to the shoulder.

  9. Referred Pain: Occasionally, pain felt in the shoulder isn't due to a shoulder problem at all. Conditions like heart disease or gallstones can result in referred pain to the shoulder area.

If you're suffering from shoulder pain, don't hesitate to pinpoint the root cause and take immediate action. The sooner you receive treatment the sooner you'll feel like yourself again!

Jennifer Ferdinand, owner of Serendipity Wellness Studio in Burke, VA, has been practicing massage therapy and esthetics since 2006. She is nationally certified through NCBTMB, and licensed in Virginia for both Massage Therapy and Esthetics.

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