Why Does My Shoulder Hurt?
Do I Have an Injury?
Ask yourself some questions to help you decide if you have a shoulder injury:
- Can you move your arm normally, or is your shoulder too stiff or painful?
- Do you feel like your shoulder could pop out of the socket?
- Is your shoulder strong enough for things you normally do?
You can treat some shoulder injuries at home for a few days with rest and ice. You can bandage it to hold it in place if necessary, and elevate it above the heart. But some injuries need professional help. Here are signs that you need to see a doctor right away:
- Your shoulder joint looks deformed.
- You can’t use your shoulder at all.
- The pain is intense.
- The shoulder is swelling suddenly.
- Your arm or hand is weak or numb.
Dislocation. If your shoulder is pulled back too hard or rotated too far, the top of your arm might pop out of its socket. You will feel pain and weakness in your shoulder. You may also have swelling, numbness and bruising.
Separation. This injury affects the joint where your collarbone and shoulder blade come together. It’s called the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. A fall or hard blow tears the ligaments holding it together. If your collarbone gets pushed out of place, you’ll have a bump on top of your shoulder.
Fracture. A bone can break or crack if you fall or take a hard hit. The most common breaks are to the clavicle (collarbone) and the humerus (arm bone closest to your shoulder). You’ll have a lot of pain and it may bruise. If your collarbone is broken, your shoulder can sag and you might not be able to lift your arm.
Frozen shoulder. This condition limits how much your joint will move. Abnormal bands of tissue (adhesions) build up in the joint and keep your shoulder from moving freely. Your shoulder might “freeze” because pain or surgery have made you use it less, allowing the adhesions to build up.
Impingement. This happens when the tendons of the rotator cuff get pinched in the bones of the shoulder. It can cause swelling and pain. If you lift your arms over your head a lot, it can set this off.
Bursitis. The bursa (a fluid-filled sac that cushions in your joint) can get swollen and irritated if you repeat the same motions over and over again. But it can also be caused by a fall or another injury. If you have bursitis, you may notice the pain most when you move your shoulder.
Osteoarthritis . Also called degenerative joint disease, this is the most common form of arthritis. It can affect any joint, including your shoulders. The cartilage between bones breaks down, and they rub together. This can cause pain and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a disease that causes your body’s immune system to attack the protective lining in your joints. It can also cause pain and stiffness in your shoulders.
Referred pain. Sometimes your shoulders hurt when there’s nothing wrong with them. This can be a sign of trouble with your gallbladder, liver or another organ.