Shoulder Pain - Pulse Physiotherapy and Pilates

May 1, 2017


Shoulder pain may originate from the joint or soft tissues (for example, the rotator cuff tendons).
Shoulder pain usually gets worse with some activities or during arm movement.

Some diseases and disorders that affect the chest or abdomen (such as heart or gallbladder disease) can also cause shoulder pain.

Shoulder pain that originates from another structure is called referred pain. This type of discomfort does not get worse with the movement of the shoulder.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

The most frequent cause of shoulder and neck pain are soft tissue disorders, such as:

  •   Muscles,

  •   Tendons,

  •   Ligaments.

This can occur after a strain, sprain or a fall.
Spondylosis (vertebral arthrosis) of the cervical spine  may compress the nerves of the brachial plexus and may cause pain


  • In the neck,

  • On the shoulder,

  • On the arm,

  • Up to the hand

A protrusion or a bulging disc in the neck can cause pain in the neck that radiates to the arm (cervicobrachial neuralgia).
Also diseases involving the spinal cord, heart, lungs, and some abdominal organs can cause referred pain in the shoulder.

Signs and symptoms that occur along with shoulder pain

The pain can be described as:

  • Pulsing

  • Similar to a burning or cramp

The pain can cause torticollis-like symptoms with loss of range of motion.
The evaluation of each symptom is important for the doctor, because according to the type one can understand the cause of the disorder.

Weakness: The weakness may be due to severe pain caused by the circulation of bones or muscles.
Nerves that nerve muscles may be irritated or injured.
It is important to distinguish true weakness (muscle or nerve damage) from the inability or fear of moving the shoulder to avoid feels pain.

Numbness: If the nerves are compressed, crushed or damaged, the sensitivity is altered.
You can feel:

  • Burning,

  • Tingling, Pins and needles.

  • Loss or change in sensitivity, as if the arm gets numb.

Due to an irritated muscle, you may feel pain:

  • On the neck and the front of the arm

  • In the back and the posterior region of the upper limb to the middle finger, in this case the pain may get worse when coughing or breathing deep,

  • In the armpit and the inside of the arm.

Cold: The feeling of cold in the hand or arm indicates that the arteries, veins, or both do not allow blood to flow well. This may be because there is not enough blood coming into the arm.
The arteries of the arm are controlled by nerves of the sympathetic nervous system.

Color changes: A redness may indicate an infection or inflammation.

Swelling: It can be generalized all over the arm or only on the involved structures (for example, a fracture of the humerus, or bursitis of the shoulder).
Dislocation or a deformity may cause a swollen or paradoxically appearance of a sunken area.

Deformity: A deformity may be present, in the case of:


  • Fracture,

  • Displacement (dislocation),

  • Rupture or muscle damage (for example, the biceps).

The rupture of the ligaments can cause an abnormal positioning of the bone structures.

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