The 7 Main Causes of Shoulder Pain

Why Does My Shoulder Hurt? The 7 Main Causes.

When it comes to shoulder pain, the culprit is often difficult to determine. There are many different muscles and joints in the shoulder area, and many of them can be a source of pain. In this blog post, we will discuss the seven most common causes of shoulder pain. If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder, it is important to read through this list and see if any of these apply to you. Knowing the cause of your pain is the first step on the road to recovery!

Let’s get started with the first cause:

1.) Rotator Cuff Tendon Pain

One common cause of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tendinitis or tendinosis. Tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendons and typically occurs if you’ve done too much activity in a short period of time. Tendinosis refers to structural damage that can occur to tendons as we age. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach the humerus, or upper arm bone, to the shoulder blade. These muscles and tendons are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder as we lift the arm. When they become inflamed or damaged, it can cause pain in the outside of the shoulder. Rotator cuff tendon injuries are often caused by repetitive motions of the arm, such as those often seen in athletes. Treatment for this condition typically includes rest, ice, and physiotherapy.

2.) Impingement Syndrome

Another common cause of shoulder pain is impingement syndrome. This condition occurs when the tendons in the rotator cuff become irritated or pinched during overhead movements. This can happen due to a number of different reasons, such as repetitive motions of the arm or a loss of strength in the shoulder. Treatment for this condition typically includes rest, ice, and physiotherapy. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary.

3.) Labral Tear

A labral tear is another common cause of shoulder pain. The labrum is a piece of tissue that sits in between the two surfaces that make up the ball-and-socket shoulder joint. It provides stability to the highly mobile joint and helps keep the ball of the humerus in place. A labral tear typically occurs after a trauma to the shoulder such as a fall or a direct blow to the shoulder. People with a labral tear typically experience a deep clunking pain with overhead movements. Treatment for this condition usually includes rest, ice, and physical therapy.


4.) Arthritis

Arthritis is another common cause of shoulder pain. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common type that affects the shoulder is osteoarthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage in the joint breaks down. This can occur due to a number of different reasons, such as age or after a traumatic event. Key features of shoulder osteoarthritis include: morning stiffness, pain in end-range positions and clicking (AKA crepitus) with movement.

5.) Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a relatively rare but very debilitating cause of shoulder pain. This condition occurs when the tissue around the shoulder joint becomes stiff and inflamed. This is condition is normally idiopathic in nature, meaning that it usually comes on for no apparent reason. It has been linked with diabetes, thyroid issues and cardiovascular disease, however. Frozen shoulder may also occur after a fall, fracture or surgery when the shoulder is being immobilized. 

6.) Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is another common cause of shoulder pain. This condition occurs when the ball of the humerus pops out of the socket. This can happen due to a fall or after a direct blow to the shoulder.

7.) Shoulder pain referred from the neck

The neck commonly refers pain to the shoulder. Referred pain is pain that occurs in an area that is away from the location of the source of the pain. Some signs that might indicate neck referred pain include: concomitant neck and shoulder pain; shoulder pain when moving the neck; shoulder pain when sitting for too long; shoulder pain on both sides.

Those are the seven most common causes of shoulder pain.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, physiotherapy can help! Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for shoulder pain or shoulder blade pain. The therapist will work with you to find the cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan to address the underlying problem. Physiotherapy can help to relieve pain, improve range of motion, and increase strength. The therapist may use a variety of techniques, including massage, stretching, and strengthening exercises. In addition, they may recommend lifestyle changes, such as using proper ergonomics when working at a computer. By working with a physiotherapist, you can reduce your shoulder pain and improve your quality of life.

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain and would like to find the root cause of your pain, simply click the search button for a clinic near you on this page to find a top physiotherapy clinic near you.

Why do I have shoulder pain without injury courtesy of BeActive Physiotherapy and Wellness. (Read the caption)


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

You should consult a doctor if the pain is severe and unrelenting, does not improve with treatment, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain or breathing problems. 

Shoulder pain from heart problems is typically a sharp, shooting pain that radiates from the chest to the shoulder. It may be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, or nausea. If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

You can prevent shoulder pain by maintaining good posture habits, using proper ergonomics when working at a computer or desk, and regularly completing shoulder strengthening exercises.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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