There is no joint in the body that is more mobile than the shoulder. However, with this mobility comes vulnerability. Because the shoulder has many parts that move, it is susceptible to injury.
Among the bones that make up the shoulder are the clavicle (collar bone), humerus (arm bone), and scapula (shoulder blade). These are held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which move the shoulder and cushion the joints.
Furthermore, the shoulder houses nerves that run to your arms and hands, as well as fluid-filled sacs called bursas, which act as cushions.
A shoulder injury or health condition can affect any of these structures, resulting in pain. The most common cause of shoulder pain, however, is a problem with the joint and the surrounding muscles and tendons.
Common causes of shoulder pain include:
- Arthritis, or inflammation that can worsen with age
- Bone fractures, such as a fractured collarbone, shoulder blade, or arm
- Bursitis, or inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that protect joints
- Torn tendons or tendinitis, such as a rotator cuff tear
- Shoulder dislocation or separation
- Pinched nerves, which when in the neck can cause shoulder pain, sometimes extending to the hand
- Bone spurs on the ends of one or more of the bones connected by your shoulder joints
Referred causes can include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Heart attack