Shoulder pain is most often caused by overuse, injury, degenerative changes, inflammation or infection.
The shoulder is made up of three joints. The joints are known as the acromioclavicular, sternoclavicular and glenohumeral joints. The glenohumeral joint is the main joint and is what most people think of as the shoulder joint. It is made up of:
The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint.
The structure and functions of the shoulder joints make it prone to injury, degeneration and pain.
Shoulder pain is a very common complaint. It may be caused by problems with the glenohumeral or acromioclavicular joints. These problems are most often caused by:
Shoulder pain can be caused by an injury, such as a rotator cuff tear or tear in the labrum. It can also be caused by a more chronic (long-term) condition. These conditions include:
Risk factors for shoulder pain and/or injury include age (over 40 years of age) and participation in activities that require repetitive movements of the arm above the shoulder.
Shoulder symptoms frequently improve or resolve over time. Conservative treatments can be done at home and are often effective in relieving shoulder pain. Conservative treatments include:
Your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter pain medications. These can include:
Sometimes, these medications can cause side effects and interfere with other medications you are taking. Ask your healthcare provider which one is right for you.
If your symptoms persist, your healthcare provider may recommend:
Contact your healthcare provider if you have shoulder pain or injury that is severe or is not responding to basic first aid at home. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you have had them.
Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.
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