Leading Causes of Shoulder Pain

Your shoulder is a complex joint comprising three bones and several muscles, tendons, and ligaments. While this network of soft tissue and bone provides an extraordinary range of motion, it also leaves you vulnerable to a variety of injuries and degenerative conditions. Up to 67% of Americans have shoulder pain at some point during their lives.

Our team of expert physical therapists here at Logos Physical Therapy in Perth Amboy & Somerville, NJ, offers expert diagnoses to identify the cause of your shoulder pain, and innovative treatments to relieve your pain and get you back to your regular activities.

Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain include:

Rotator cuff injuries

Your rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons that stabilize your shoulder and provide its vast range of motion. However, your rotator cuff is a common injury site.

For example, repetitive movements like throwing a ball, painting, or playing tennis can cause injuries like bursitis and tendinitis. Both are inflammatory conditions that affect your bursae — the sacs that produce lubricating fluid in your joints — and your tendons — the thick connective tissue that connects your muscles to bones.

You can also have a more severe, acute injury like a rotator cuff tear in your muscles or tendons. Rotator cuff tears are extremely painful and can occur when you fall and land on an outstretched arm.


Osteoarthritis is the degenerative form of arthritis. It develops as the cartilage that lines and protects your joints wears away. Your bones rub together without lubrication, creating friction that irritates and inflames your joints.

Osteoarthritis causes stiff, aching joints and can interfere with your range of motion. For example, many patients can’t reach behind their backs.


Shoulder dislocation is usually an acute injury that occurs when a sudden force pushes the head of your humerus out of its socket. Your risk of this painful injury increases if you have loose or torn muscles or connective tissues in your rotator cuff.

You can develop chronic or frequent shoulder dislocations, which can increase your risk of developing arthritis.


You have three bones in your shoulder: your humerus (upper arm), clavicle (collar bone), and scapula (shoulder blade). You can break any one of these bones and experience excruciating shoulder pain.

Shoulder fractures are common during slip-and-fall accidents, automobile accidents, and sports accidents. Shoulder fractures cause pain, swelling, and bruising that limit your mobility and range of motion.

What to do about shoulder pain

If you have mild shoulder pain or stiffness, you can try to treat it at home with rest, ice, heat, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. However, if your pain persists for more than a couple of days, gets worse, or follows an acute accident, give us a call or make an appointment online.

Prolonged pain is a sign of a more severe injury that probably needs professional diagnosis and treatment. We offer several evidence-based therapies for shoulder pain, including:

  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue manipulation (IASTM)
  • Selective functional movement assessment (SFMA)
  • Ergonomic assessments
  • Kinesiotaping
  • Orthopedic manual therapy
  • Joint mobilizations
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage

We also teach you exercises and stretches to practice at home to manage your pain and maintain your progress between appointments.

If you’re concerned about shoulder pain, contact us today for expert diagnosis and treatment.

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