Shoulder Pain without Injury: 3 Common Causes

Shoulder Pain without Injury: 3 Common Causes

The shoulders are complex joints that allow you to raise your arms above your head and perform tasks like lifting and throwing. Because you use them so often, the shoulders are incredibly prone to injury.

However, injuries aren't the only reason your shoulders might hurt. Years of wear and tear wreak havoc on the tissues within the joint, causing pain and mobility issues.

If you're living with shoulder pain with or without an injury, Dr. Brandon Downs and the team at Orthopaedic Specialists provide a fast diagnosis and personalized treatment.

Dr. Downs is an orthopaedic surgeon who provides state-of-the-art treatments for shoulder pain, no matter the cause.

What is shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is stiffness, discomfort, or aching that affects any of the tissues in the shoulder joint. The pain can come on suddenly after an injury or develop over time from overuse or wear and tear.

The shoulder joint contains many components, including bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. When any of these tissues become injured or inflamed, it leads to pain and difficulty with movement.

Pain in the shoulder causes various issues at work and home. You may need help to brush your hair, put on clothes, or perform your job.

The good news is that most shoulder pain is treatable through nonsurgical methods. If you require surgery, it's often successful at relieving your pain long-term.

Three non-injury causes of shoulder pain

Injuries are some of the most common culprits behind shoulder pain, but they're not the only reason you're having discomfort. If you can't recall an injury and are suffering from severe pain in the shoulder, there are other reasons for the problem, including the following three issues:

1. Arthritis

Various forms of arthritis affect the joints in the body, including osteoarthritis. Wear and tear over time causes the cartilage and other protective tissues in the shoulder joint to deteriorate, leading to osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative and progressive condition that worsens over time without treatment. Although conservative measures slow down the condition, you may require surgery at a certain point due to damage within the shoulder joint.

2. Bursitis

Most of the joints in your body contain tiny sacs called bursae. These sacs are fluid-filled and provide cushioning to the bones and tissues within the joint.

Bursae also decrease friction between bones in the joint. Bursitis happens when you get inflammation in the bursa sacs, typically from overuse of the joint.

Subacromial bursitis is the most common form of the condition in the shoulder joint. It typically happens along with rotator cuff tendonitis, causing pain and swelling within the shoulder.

3. Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition where the shoulder joint becomes so tight and stiff you can’t move it without excruciating pain.

Most people with frozen shoulders can't remember an injury; we commonly see it in people with medical conditions like diabetes.

When you have a frozen shoulder, the connective tissues within the joint become thick and stiff, leading to a decreased range of motion and immobility. However, the less you move the shoulder, the worse the condition becomes.

When to seek professional treatment

Shoulder aches and pains are common but usually resolve independently with conservative home treatments. Ice, rest, and stretching are all great ways to relieve shoulder discomfort from a minor injury or overuse.

However, it's essential to know when to seek treatment for shoulder pain if it doesn't resolve in a few days with home care. Seek professional care for shoulder discomfort if you have any of the following symptoms:

Some shoulder conditions take a few days to a week to clear up, which is normal. However, if you've tried over-the-counter medications, rest, and ice and are still uncomfortable and unable to do regular activities, seek our team's help immediately.

At your appointment, Dr. Downs evaluates the shoulder joint and performs a physical exam to determine the cause of the pain. He may also order an X-ray or MRI to see the structures in the joint and find any tissue damage.

Dr. Downs offers customized treatments to overcome shoulder pain. Physical therapy and steroid injections are good nonsurgical options for long-term pain relief.

Living with shoulder pain isn't fun; call Orthopaedic Specialists today or request an online appointment at one of our six offices in the Nashville, Tennessee, area.

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