What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain and injuries are among the most troublesome complaints for many patients. The shoulder joint is a complex structure made up of muscles, tendons, and cartilage. In the event of injuries, strains, or overload, these connective tissue structures can pull or even tear.

At his offices in Wilmington, Delaware, and Springfield, Pennsylvania, pain management expert Dr. Steven Grossinger quickly identifies the root cause of your shoulder pain and develops a plan to provide fast, lasting relief.

Options for pain relief include platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, a natural solution that avoids the need for opioids.

Shining a light on shoulder pain

The shoulder is your most flexible joint, but it’s extremely sensitive. Shoulder pain can sometimes radiate to the upper arm or neck. There are two kinds of shoulder pain:

Acute shoulder pain

This kind of pain occurs suddenly. Examples include sudden pain you might experience after a sports injury, car accident, or a fall. These are the kinds of mishaps that lead to tendon tears, broken bones, or a dislocated shoulder. 

Chronic shoulder pain 

Chronic shoulder pain develops slowly and is persistent. Reasons for chronic pain include osteoarthritis, bone spurs, or a pinched nerve.

Causes of shoulder pain

Shoulder pain is noticeable in different ways, depending on the reason for the discomfort.

You may find it painful to lift your arms to the side or over your head. Perhaps you have pain when you lie down, and find it difficult to get into a comfortable position. Sometimes, shoulder pain affects your mobility because of stiffened joints.


Every day, people who perform repetitive motions are often plagued by shoulder pain due to overload and one-sided stress. For example, painters or construction workers may overburden their shoulders during work hours, injuring soft tissues and tendons. 


Repetitive movements also cause wear-and-tear of essential cartilage in the shoulder joint. When the cartilage that lines the shoulder joint thins, the shoulder no longer works or moves correctly or pain-free. 

If the problem isn’t addressed quickly, more significant damage to the cartilage leads to more painful problems like arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes a restriction of movement and can feel like a dull, deep pain in your shoulder. At an advanced stage, rheumatoid arthritis destroys the shoulder joint’s cartilage layer altogether and leads to shoulder osteoporosis.


Another shoulder pain possibility is illness. With avascular necrosis, for instance, your bone tissue dies because of trauma, fatty deposits, or other medical conditions. A heart attack can also cause shoulder pain, one of the first signs you should call for emergency medical help.

Nonspecific shoulder pain

Pain that seemingly has no root cause might be the product of stress, poor posture, or tension. You might also experience shoulder pain from “sleeping funny” or sitting for long periods. This kind of shoulder pain usually radiates into your back, neck, or upper body.

Nonspecific shoulder pain should be discussed with your doctor as soon as possible to identify and remedy the problem.

Relieving shoulder pain

Dr. Grossinger creates personalized plans to treat shoulder pain. Treatments include supplements, therapeutic procedures, or medication. You also have the option to try PRP treatments so that your own platelets can promote fast and effective healing.

Do you have an achy shoulder? Give Dr. Grossinger a call at one of our two locations, or request an appointment online.

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