Shoulder Pain

When our shoulders hurt, most of us look for a reason. If we’re older, we may think it’s arthritis. If we’ve been doing something new, like painting the house or shooting hoops with our children, we may blame that activity. But what we really want to know is what to do about the pain.

Shoulder Pain Causes

Shoulders are the most flexible joints we have but they can also be the most unstable because the ball on the end of the upper arm bone is actually larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. In a healthy shoulder, the muscles, tendons and ligaments keep everything in proper position, but overuse or an injury can cause a variety of shoulder problems.

Typical causes include:

  • Tendinitis and bursitis
  • Instability and injuries
  • Arthritis

Diagnosing Shoulder Pain

To find the cause of your shoulder pain, an orthopaedist begins with a comprehensive examination that includes a thorough medical history a physical exam. Robinwood Orthopaedic Specialty Center also has many diagnostic tools available, including x-rays and MRIs.


90% of people with shoulder pain respond to simple treatment methods: changing their activities, rest, physical therapy/exercise, and medication to reduce inflammation and pain. Some types of shoulder problems, such as recurring dislocations and some rotator cuff tears, may require surgery.

If you’ve been injured and the pain is intense, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If the pain is not severe, especially if it occurred after a new or strenuous activity, many people take an over-the-counter pain medication and wait a few days to see if the pain goes away. If the pain persists, especially if you have difficulty moving your shoulder normally, you should see your family physician or an orthopaedist at Robinwood Orthopaedic for diagnosis and treatment.