Shoulder Pain

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Shoulder pain can vary in the type of pain that is felt and the root cause. Because the shoulder is the most movable joint in the human body, swelling, damage, or bone changes around the rotator cuff could cause severe pain and greatly limit range of motion.

Patients experiencing shoulder pain should call their healthcare provider if they experience:

  • Shoulder pain with a fever, swelling, or redness
  • Difficulty moving the shoulder
  • Pain that lasts for more than two to four weeks
  • Swelling of the shoulder
  • Redness or blue skin in the shoulder area

Proper treatment will hinge on accurate diagnosis.

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Digital-illustration-of-shoulder-pain

Types of Shoulder Pain


The three types of shoulder pain include aching pain, radiating pain, and burning pain.

Aching shoulder pain may be associated with the following injuries and conditions:

  • Rotator cuff tear. This injury may be caused by a traumatic event, such as a fall, or by the gradual wearing down of the rotator cuff tendons.
  • SLAP tear. A tear to the cartilage that rings the shoulder’s socket may cause a deep, achy shoulder pain.
  • Frozen shoulder. The cause of the condition is unknown, but typically affects people aged 40 to 60 years.
  • Glenohumeral osteoarthritis. Also known as arthritis of the shoulder joint, this condition can cause deep, achy pain in the joint and back of the shoulder.

Radiating pain may be caused by:

  • Arthritis in the joint at the top of the shoulder can cause radiating pain in the neck, possibly due to overuse.
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis can cause pain to radiate from the outside of the arm near the topmost part of the shoulder.

Burning pain in the shoulder, also known as subacromial bursitis, occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed or irritated and causes a burning sensation. Patients may experience pain radiating in their upper arm. A rotator cuff tear may also potentially cause burning shoulder pain.

Other Causes of Shoulder Pain


Shoulder pain may be caused by the following conditions or injuries:

  • Avascular necrosis
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Broken arm
  • Broken collarbone
  • Cervical radiculopathy
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Heart attack
  • Impingement
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Separated shoulder
  • Septic arthritis
  • Sprain
  • Tendinitis
  • Tendon rupture
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Torn cartilage
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Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain


Westcare Clinics healthcare practitioners treat shoulder pain with joint and soft tissue injections, pain management techniques, and occupational medicine.

Joint and soft tissue injections, such as epidural injections (interlaminar and transforaminal), piriformis injection, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections, can help treat and minimize shoulder pain. The type of injection that is done will depend on the severity and location of the pain.

Patients experiencing shoulder pain may benefit from pain management techniques, such as physical therapy, mind-body techniques, gentle exercise, therapeutic massage, and occupational therapy. The pain management techniques will be customized according to the patient’s needs.

Westcare Clinics also offers occupational medicine to help patients maintain the strength and flexibility they need to continue working. Our healthcare practitioners are qualified to train employers to adapt the workplace and worker responsibilities to the physical limitations of their employees.

Advanced Treatment


Patients experiencing shoulder pain may need complex, long-term care to fully recover from their injuries. Advanced treatment options may include surgery, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, and other forms of rehabilitation. The Westcare Clinics team is happy to answer any questions patients may have about obtaining advanced treatment for shoulder pain.

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