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Causes of Shoulder Pain (Updated)


swimmer shoulder injury prevention Oakville

Causes of Shoulder Pain (Updated)

Shoulder pain can disrupt daily activities, whether it arises suddenly from an accident or gradually without a clear cause. At Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic, we offer guidance to diagnose and treat shoulder injuries effectively. In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons why your shoulder might hurt.

Note: Are you an athlete or a weekend warrior living in Oakville or Burlington with shoulder pain? Check with our therapists to help assess and treat your current injury.

The onset of shoulder pain provides crucial insights into its underlying cause. Sudden onset may signal muscle strains, ligament sprains, or joint capsule injuries, while gradual onset suggests conditions like tendonitis, impingement, or arthritis. Understanding these differences is important in formulating an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your individual’s needs.

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder, a complex ball-and-socket joint, relies on a network of muscles and a capsule for stability. The rotator cuff is made up of the following muscles, the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor, which all play a pivotal role in shoulder function. Additionally, surrounding muscles like the deltoid, pectoral muscles, teres major, latissimus dorsi, and the biceps contribute to shoulder movement and stability.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

  • Rotator cuff injuries or tears:

    The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, facilitating movement and stability. Overuse, trauma, or degeneration can lead to tears or inflammation in these structures, resulting in pain, weakness, and limited range of motion.

  • Overuse or repetitive motions:

    Activities involving repetitive overhead motions or lifting heavy objects can strain the shoulder muscles and tendons, leading to inflammation, tendinitis, or muscle imbalances, causing discomfort and reduced function.

  • Shoulder impingement syndrome:

    This condition occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become pinched or compressed between the bones of the shoulder, particularly during overhead movements. It can result from anatomical factors, repetitive motions, poor posture, or muscular imbalances, causing pain, weakness, and difficulty with reaching or lifting.

  • Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis):

    Characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, frozen shoulder typically develops gradually and progresses through three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing. The exact cause is unclear, but it may be linked to inflammation, injury, or underlying medical conditions, leading to restricted mobility and discomfort.

  • Poor posture:

    Slouching or maintaining improper alignment of the shoulders and spine can place undue stress on the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the shoulder complex. Over time, this can lead to muscle imbalances, tension, and structural changes, contributing to shoulder pain and dysfunction.

  • Bursitis (inflammation of the bursa sac):

    Bursitis occurs when the bursa sac, which cushions and lubricates the shoulder joint, becomes inflamed due to repetitive motions, trauma, or underlying conditions. It can cause pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the shoulder.

  • Tendinitis (e.g., biceps tendinitis, supraspinatus tendinitis):

    Tendinitis refers to inflammation or irritation of the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, commonly affecting the biceps tendon or the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles (such as the supraspinatus). It can result from overuse, repetitive motions, or sudden injury, leading to pain, stiffness, and weakness in the shoulder.

Prevention Strategies for Shoulder Pain

  • Maintain Good Posture:

    Practice proper posture to avoid placing unnecessary strain on your shoulders. Sit and stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your spine aligned. Avoid slouching or rounding your shoulders forward, especially when working at a desk or using electronic devices.

  • Strengthen Shoulder Muscles:

    Incorporate regular exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, including the rotator cuff muscles. Focus on exercises that target shoulder stability and range of motion, such as shoulder presses, rows, external rotations, and scapular stabilization exercises.

  • Warm-Up Before Activity:

    Always warm up your shoulders before engaging in physical activity or sports that involve overhead motions or heavy lifting. Perform dynamic stretches and gentle movements to increase blood flow to the shoulder muscles and prepare them for activity.

  • Use Proper Technique:

    Whether you’re lifting weights, playing sports, or performing daily tasks, use proper technique to avoid straining your shoulders. Lift objects with your legs instead of relying solely on your arms and shoulders. When playing sports, follow proper form and mechanics to minimize the risk of injury.

  • Take Regular Breaks:

    If you have a job or hobby that requires repetitive shoulder movements, take regular breaks to rest and stretch your shoulders. Prolonged or repetitive activities can lead to overuse injuries and muscle fatigue. Break up tasks into shorter intervals and alternate between different activities to give your shoulders a chance to recover.

For individuals seeking expert care for shoulder problems or aiming to prevent postural issues, Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic in Oakville and Burlington are committed to helping patients achieve optimal shoulder health and function.

Located just minutes away from Oakville Go Station and Sheridan College Oakville, our Oakville clinic provides easy accessibility.

Similarly, our Burlington clinic, situated in close proximity to Spencer Smith Park and Burlington Beach, offers convenience and expert care for all your shoulder needs.

Don’t let shoulder pain limit your lifestyle – contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic today at 905-849-4576 to schedule an appointment and embark on your journey towards pain-free living.

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