Underlying Causes of Shoulder Pain [Ways to Address Them]

Shoulder pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages.

Whether you talk about teenage children, adults or older adults no one is immune to shoulder pain.

Yes, everyone faces this condition at some point in their life. And its right treatment is carried out only after the identification of its root cause.

Without diagnosing it’s underlying cause it’s hard to address the problem effectively.


Causes of Shoulder Pain

Made up of bones like humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone), shoulders are highly intricate joint systems in human body. Even a simple injury to them can restrict an individual’s mobility and function, therefore it’s essential to protect them from potential injuries and illnesses.

According to Synergy Rehab Inc., “The shoulder is the most complicated joint in the body and has to move through an incredible range of motion while maintaining strength and support. The shoulder actually has four joints that connect your humerus, collarbone and shoulder blade to function as one unit. Shoulder pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but is typically from poor posture, weakness of rotator cuff muscles or injury.”

The mobility of your arms largely depends on the health of the shoulders, so keep them intact to live a pain-free life.

Here are some of the common causes of shoulder pain


Fractures are one of the most common causes of shoulder pain and there are several reasons for their occurrence. Vehicular accidents, falls, and sports injuries are some of the common causes of fracture.

In layman’s terms, fractures are nothing but damaged or broken bones.

So, if you are diagnosed with a shoulder fracture, it means you have damaged one of the three important bones that make your shoulder. Anyone can suffer from a shoulder fracture, so it’s crucial to seek a right treatment for it to get rid of the pain.

Shoulder Dislocation

The pain in your shoulder could also stem from dislocation, which happens either due to the overuse of shoulders or an unexpected injury. Shoulder dislocation or instability is a condition wherein the ball of the upper arm bone is thrown out of shoulder socket, either due to repetitive strain or an injury, which eventually leads to a lot of pain and discomfort.

An individual can either suffer from a partial dislocation or a complete dislocation. A partial dislocation is called a subluxation and the severity of the pain is little less when compared to complete dislocation. Your chances of suffering from dislocations increase a lot when muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are located around your shoulder become loose.

Dislocations lead to enormous pain when you try to use your arm to perform your routine activities, for example, to lift a bucket of water or to keep an item on overhead shelves. In short, your shoulder starts paining when you use your arm.

And the worst part is that the more you suffer from dislocations the more you face the risk of suffering from joint arthritis.


Arthritis is another important cause of shoulder pain. There are different types of arthritis but the one that’s closely linked to shoulders is osteoarthritis. Also known as wear and tear arthritis the symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling. Most people start developing osteoarthritis – a slow-progressing disease, during middle age.

The worst part of suffering from this shoulder condition is that the pain starts aggravating with the passage of time.

Sports and workplace injuries increase the risk of osteoarthritis, so when you struggle with them make sure that you take right treatment for quick recovery. If you fail to treat your problem at the right time it can have severe consequences for your mobility and function.

Torn Tendons

These torn tendons can also lead to shoulder pain so make sure that you take care of them effectively to live a healthy life. Torn tendons result from injuries, poor posture, and overuse of shoulders. In addition to that, degenerative changes that occur with age can also lead to tendon tears. You either suffer from partial tendon tears or complete tendon tears.

Some people may think that partial tendon tear is not that painful and they can recover quickly from it, but sadly they are wrong. The fact is, both partial and complete tendon tear lead to a lot of pain and stiffness and you have to take a proper treatment to recover from them.


Shoulder pain also results from impingement a condition during which shoulder blade – one of the three bones that form a shoulder puts enormous strain on the underlying tissues. What’s really annoying about this condition is that if left untreated it can lead to conditions like Bursitis and Tendinitis. In addition to that, it also increases the risk of Rotator Cuff Tears.

Treatment for Shoulder Pain

Generally, anyone who suffers’s from a shoulder pain consults a physician to get quick relief from it, which is okay to an extent. However, if you want to address the underlying cause of your problem without taking a surgical treatment then it’s better to consult a physical therapist.

Role of Physical Therapy in Treating Shoulder Pain

Physical therapy is undisputedly the most effective way of addressing the signs and symptoms of shoulder pain. In other words, it’s a treatment approach wherein a physical therapist focus on identifying the root cause of your shoulder pain, so that its signs and symptoms can be addressed effectively.

There are several techniques that are used by physical therapists to subside shoulder pain and to accelerate the healing process. For example, they use techniques like manual therapy, massage therapy, and Kinesio Taping etc., to heal the shoulder pain.

However, the selection of the treatment techniques largely depends on the underlying cause of the pain.

For example, if you are experiencing shoulder pain because of a sports injury, then you therapist can either use manual therapy or Kinesio Taping. On the other hand, if you are struggling with shoulder pain because of arthritis, then your therapist may use techniques like manual therapy, aquatic therapy or massage therapy to mitigate your pain, to improve flexibility and to accelerate the natural healing process.

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