Shoulder pain is a common reason why people consult their doctors. Among other body joints, the shoulder is considered as the most used and mobile since it forms the connection between various bones such as the clavicle, scapula, and humerus. Moreover, the shoulder is a highly complex joint as it’s made up of some tendons, articulations, and muscles. Therefore, shoulder pain may have many causes, which determine how the pain must be treated.

It involves a number of everyday, usual movements, including combing your hair, driving a car, and drinking a coffee. Such repetitive movements may weaken your shoulder. Due to this, it’s important to see your doctor if you experience persistent shoulder pain or consider some ways to alleviate shoulder pain like using a shoulder pillow.

However, if you want to address shoulder pain more effectively, working with a more specialized medical professional like a pain management doctor would be beneficial. They excel in diagnosing, treating, and managing shoulder pain. They have advanced training in pain assessment and treatment so they can help choose the right way to address your shoulder pain. With the guidance of a medical professional, you can manage your pain in a way that doesn’t interfere with your daily activities.

Before delving into how doctors can help, let’s first explore the reasons why your shoulder is more likely to hurt.

Below are the common causes of shoulder pain:

1. Rotator Cuff Injuries And Tears

One of the causes of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tears. If you experience shoulder pain during night time that makes it hard to fall asleep, it may mean that you have a tear in your rotator cuff tendons. The sign of a rotator cuff injury is night pain. You might also have this kind of injury if you’re feeling pain when lifting your arm overhead or you’re experiencing weakness in your shoulder whenever you lift.

Rotator cuffs are the muscles and tendons that connect your shoulder blade to your upper arm bone and surround your shoulder joint. The small sacs near your joint are called bursae, which lubricate the fluid that reduces friction among the ligaments, bones, and tendons.

Rotator cuff issues may also happen because of overuse and they may include complete or partial tears of tendon, strains, and tendonitis. Generally, tendonitis is when your rotator cuff tendon becomes irritated and inflamed while bursitis is the term called when your bursae swell. Both of these cause pain in the side and front of the shoulder and you could also feel some stiffness.

Rotator cuff tendons can tear easily, like from falling on outstretched arms. It may also happen from the motion that’s repeated always. For instance, plumbers who use their arms overhead may develop rotator cuff tears. Your rotator cuff may also weaken with age. Such conditions may also happen with activities that may involve the use of arms overhead such as painting a room, tennis or yoga.

When it comes to the best treatments available, the options may involve taking NSAIDs like ibuprofen, applying ice, and getting some rest. If you’re opting NSAIDs for treating rotator cuff injuries, make sure to consult your doctor to get the best possible results. Depending on your condition, you’ll reduce shoulder pain and experience relief after several weeks once you take certain NSAIDs prescribed by your doctor.If such measures don’t give you relief, another option is surgery for repairing your rotator cuff tendons.

2. Osteoarthritis

It happens when your cartilage deteriorates, which may result in stiffness and pain. Basically, a cartilage is the cushioning material that covers your bone’s ends.

Osteoarthritis may cause a deep ache in the back of your shoulder, which may also cause back pain. As this medical condition worsens, the stiffness in your shoulder develops. Typically, people suffering from osteoarthritis lose the ability to reach behind their back. They can’t even thread a belt or scratch their back.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis may develop over time. For others, old shoulder injuries due to sports and other activities may kick off the process, which leads to osteoarthritis in the long run. However, some people don’t have any specific cause and it’s onlythe result of accumulated wear-and-tear.

The treatment for osteoarthritis is the same with the treatments for a torn rotator cuff, which may involve physical therapy, ice, and NSAIDs. If your condition is quite severe, you may need to undergo shoulder joint replacement surgery, which is similar to knee and hip joint replacement.

3. Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability refers to when the head of your arm bone is displaced from the shoulder socket. Oftentimes, shoulder instability is the result of serious injury or trauma. People who suffer from shoulder instability may experience a catching or slipping feeling in the shoulder, or a dislocation where the arm bone’s ball comes out of your shoulder socket. This may cause repeated dislocations as the ligaments, muscles, and tendons around your shoulder start to loosen and tear.

Therefore, if your shoulder pain persists or you experience instability, promptly seek medical attention. The doctor will examine your shoulder and may order imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, to confirm the diagnosis.

Moreover, the treatment for shoulder instability depends on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may be treated with physical therapy, which can help to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder and improve stability. More severe cases may require surgery to tighten the ligaments or repair the labrum (the ring of cartilage that surrounds the glenoid).

With proper treatment, most people with shoulder instability can make a full recovery and return to their normal activities.


Once you feel shoulder pain for no reason, you shouldn’t wait for several days before consulting your doctor, so it should be treated immediately. If your pain goes on in spite of receiving medical treatment, tell your doctor about it for a better and more effective treatment suited for your needs.