Shoulder pain: causes, symptoms and diagnosis

Why can my shoulder hurt?

The main factors that provoke shoulder discomfort are:

  • Untreated joint injuries . The damaged tendon or cartilage continues to experience stress, which leads to even greater tissue destruction;
  • Long heavy load on one side . Due to constant tension, inflammation in the tendon can begin;
  • Poor posture . The spine is bent, the vertebrae and the shoulder joint may be deformed, in advanced cases, inflammation of the nerve fibers begins;
  • Sedentary lifestyle . Blood circulation around the joint is impaired, which can lead to destruction of the cartilage entering it.

Because of them, unpleasant sensations can appear even in a healthy person. However, pain can be caused not only by mechanical damage, but also by infections, inflammation and swelling. Pain in the shoulder joints often indicates the following conditions:

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine Due to the pathologically altered spine, nerves are pinched and disrupt their work
Arthritis The inflammation itself is painful and, in the case of the joint, also limits mobility.
Arthrosis Due to the destruction of cartilage, the structure of the joint is disrupted, which leads to inflammation and pain during movement
Tendinitis A condition in which tendons and other soft tissue structures surrounding the shoulder joint become inflamed
Capsulitis The inflamed area of ​​the joint capsule is constantly exposed to tendons and bones.
Brachial nerve neuritis Inflammation in the nerve causes severe pain and impairs hand sensitivity
Bursitis Inflammation around the joint causes discomfort when moving. The synovial bag is most often affected. It fulfills an important function: it protects muscles and articular cartilage from damage due to improper load or overload. Prolonged irritation of the bursae leads to inflammation.
Tumors Neoplasms limit mobility, inflammation spreads to adjacent areas and requires early diagnosis
Hereditary pathologies Many congenital diseases (for example, autoimmune processes or joint hypermobility) lead to cartilage destruction, joint inflammation and, as a result, acute pain
Infectious diseases Dangerous microorganisms through the blood enter the joint, where they provoke inflammation and suppuration, especially in the case of injuries

Symptoms of possible diseases

Injuries  – bruises, fractures – are the easiest to identify. In addition to being preceded by injury (for example, a fall), they have quite characteristic pain: sharp, aggravated by movement. In the event of a fracture, the arm completely loses its ability to move.

With osteochondrosis, the pain is at first aching and weak, but if untreated, it will intensify. It can spread to the entire arm, causing numbness and tingling in the fingers.

Arthritis  is inflammation of the joint. It is often observed on both shoulders at the same time, but it can develop on one side. The diseased area swells, becomes inactive. The pain is sharp, almost unbearable.

Osteoarthritis is usually seen in older people. Cartilage is destroyed, which leads to disruption of the structure of the entire joint, inflammation of the synovial fluid and weakening of the ligaments. Shoulder pain increases with heavy lifting or active movement. Also, the patient feels discomfort with pressure on the collarbone or shoulder blade.

Tendinitis  , an inflammation of the tendons, occurs when the limb is overused. For example, with regular sports. The pain can be both aching and sharp. The main symptom is the suddenness of each attack. Hand mobility also decreases.

Joint capsule inflammation – capsulitis  – is a very rare disease. With it, severe aching pain is felt not only in the shoulder, but also in the neck and upper back. The sensations are so acute that the hand cannot be raised or brought back.

With neuritis of the brachial nerve, the patient experiences acute, sudden pain that passes through the entire shoulder. It can be confused with arthritis or tendinitis, but the joints themselves are completely healthy: the problem is in the inflamed nerve.

Constant pain that does not go away for several weeks is a sign of bursitis . This inflammation of the periarticular bursa is a dangerous process that can become chronic without treatment.

With infections, pains resemble arthritis: the joint begins to become inflamed and destroyed. And do not forget that pain from internal organs can be given to the shoulder: with ischemic heart disease, pancreatitis, pneumonia.

Diagnostics. Who can help relieve shoulder pain?

It depends primarily on the cause of the disease. If you have a bruised or dislocated shoulder, see a traumatologist. Neuritis and osteochondrosis are diagnosed and treated by a neurologist. Joint and tendon problems – arthritis, tendonitis, arthrosis – are treated by a surgeon and a rheumatologist.

Well, if you are worried about not only shoulder pain, but also a general worsening of the condition, visit:

  • therapist  – he will determine the circle of specialists who should be contacted first. This will allow you to diagnose faster;
  • oncologist  – the cause of pain may be a malignant neoplasm;
  • cardiologist  – in case of heart disease;
  • gastroenterologist  – if pain from the gastrointestinal tract passes into the shoulder.

Most likely, you will have to go through several doctors in order to accurately establish a diagnosis. Moreover, depending on the disease, you may be prescribed:

  • X-rays of the joint or the entire arm,
  • MRI of the shoulder joint ,
  • X-ray or MRI of the spine ,
  • Joint ultrasound,
  • general blood test, ECG, etc. (determined by the therapist).

If everything is in order with the joint, and the shoulder hurts due to pathologies, then, depending on the reason, you will be directed to:

  • ECG,
  • gastroscopy,
  • fluorography,
  • blood tests for genital infections.

Why is the cause of pain worth fighting?

Even if it seems to you that now the pain is not strong and does not make you feel worse, remember that the absence of treatment always leads to bad consequences. And since in this case the pain can have many different reasons, it is impossible to predict what exactly awaits you in a few years.

For example, a bruise will go away on its own, without outside help. But more severe injuries cannot be healed without a specialist. All pathological processes of the joints will lead to a complete loss of movement and can eventually spread to the entire body. Heart and lung diseases have severe complications that greatly shorten life expectancy. And oncology is still being successfully treated and at all only in the initial stages. Remember that seeing a doctor on time can save you from the consequences.

And do not forget about simple prevention, which we regularly talk about: an active lifestyle, correct posture, no hypothermia, a comfortable sleeping place. These simple rules will save you not only from joint pain, but also from many other unpleasant diseases.