Why Do I Have Shoulder Pain ?

Everyday in my office I see a variety of patients who have made an appointment for their shoulder pain.  They range in age from late teens to 90 years of age or even older. The vast majority of them are in the 40-60 year range.

The young patients that I see usually have a problem with shoulder instability. They may have fallen on their outstretched arm or shoulder and dislocated the joint. If this reoccurs again then there is almost a 100% chance that it will keep dislocating. This type of injury will require surgery to stabilize the joint and prevent arthritis. 

More commonly is the 40-60 year old patient who complains of pain along the side or front of the shoulder.  This usually occurs from a repetitive type of activity such as painting or working overhead. It also is quite common in people who have jobs that involve the same constant motion of the shoulder. Workers on an assembly line who use an impact gun or drill will often come in with shoulder pain. They describe the pain as sharp at times radiating down the side of the arm. It often prevents them from sleeping on that side at night. On exam there is tenderness, limited range of motion and sometimes weakness.  

Xrays may show some findings of early arthritis, but many times it is normal. If I suspect a torn rotator cuff an MRI may be ordered. More often then not it is a bursitis. This is an inflammation of the sac between the roof of the shoulder and tendons. It responds well to a steroid injection with fairly quick relief.  Physical therapy is also recommended to strengthen the shoulder and prevent reoccurrence.  

If I determine that there is a torn rotator cuff then I discuss with the patient the options of surgery versus conservative treatment. 

There are other causes of shoulder pain, but bursitis and rotator cuff injuries are the two main reasons: "why do I have shoulder pain?"


Bruce I. Prager, M.D.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What's New in Sports Medicine

Sports medicine is always changing as far as new treatments. What is available and used in practice today is very different from what was done 10 years ago. Progress is always moving forward with innovative treatments.
Knee image

Sports Medicine Injuries

As an orthopedic surgeon who did a fellowship in sport's medicine I consider myself a sports medicine physician and specialist. Sports injuries can affect everyone or anyone who decides to go out and play.

Partial Rotator Cuff Tears

The rotator cuff is one of the most common injuries that is seen in an orthopedic practice. Most tears are partial and can be treated without surgery.

Ankle Sprains

One of the most common injuries is a sprained ankle. Almost everyone has had one and it can happen anywhere and any place.

New Technique in Rotator Cuff Surgery

Rotator Cuff tears are one of the most common problems seen in the over age 40 patient with shoulder pain. This is a new technique to improve the success and strength of the repair.

Gel Injections for Knee Pain

Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of knee pain. It occurs when the cartilage surface of the knee starts to break down resulting in pain and disability.