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Top Three Causes of Shoulder Pain

Top Three Causes of Shoulder Pain

By Biagio Mazza

Today we're going to talk about the top three causes for shoulder pain.

There's a lot of power in knowing what is actually causing the problem.

1. The first cause is shoulder impingement. That is kind of a catch all term for as the shoulder moves around it moves around way more than the stability can sometimes match with. So as you're moving up in the air if the structures of the shoulders get pinched that's referred to as impingement.

Here's the classic sign that you can identify that it's impingement causing your symptoms and not something different is you will have what's cause a painful arc. What that means is as you're raising up in the air you will find pain at some range, ouch! As you raise up further than that it will eventually clear and then it will be fine up over head.

You may run into that same arc as you're lowering down as well but there will always be that mid point that will cause that pain to occur that will typically minimize when you get up over head. That's a classic sign of shoulder impingement.

2. The second issue that you may be dealing with is a rotator cuff tear. Now, rotator cuff tears get a lot of bad publicity because when you do an MRI and you see a tear on there and it gets repaired, that's not always the cause of your pain. You're going through a lot of recovery that is not necessary. It is a lot of the times but it's not always the cause.

Here's how I know that is, because if you take an MRI of 100 people that have no shoulder pain at all you're going to see rotator cuff tears on a pretty large percentage of them. You have to really make sure that you're getting a good clinical diagnosis along with the MRI. That means seeing a really good physical therapist or an orthopedic surgeon who can go through an exam with you to tell you, "Yes, it is you rotator cuff that's causing your symptoms."

Some classic signs of rotator cuff pathology or pain are difficulty with reaching to the outside, difficulty with sleeping at night and kind of a deep aching pain in the shoulder that is present even without a lot of motion. That's a rotator cuff tear.

3. The third really common type of cause for shoulder problems and pain is the neck. Nerves in the neck send signals all the way down the arm. You don't have to have any pain at all in the neck and you can have pain that manifests itself in the shoulder, sometimes it's in the back of the shoulder and people will share it is something wrong with their shoulder.

Here's an easy test to determine if it's the neck versus shoulder: If you move your neck around and that creates your pain more so that moving your shoulder around does, it's probably your neck, but get that checked by a good clinician to be able to make sure that's what's going on.