What Can Cause Shoulder Pain?

What Can Cause Shoulder Pain?

Shoulders are funny — you don’t pay too much attention to them, but you suddenly realize how important they are when something goes wrong. When you have shoulder pain, everything from eating to showering can become difficult.

If you’re dealing with a painful shoulder and you want to figure out why, Jason LaMendola, PT, and the team of experienced physical therapy experts at TLC Physical Therapy review a few possibilities here.

Most common causes of shoulder pain

If you windmill your arms around for a moment, you can appreciate the wide range of motion that your shoulder joints provide to your arms. Your shoulders are very shallow ball-and-socket joints, and the lack of depth in the socket is one of the reasons why shoulders are prone to injury — they’re inherently unstable.

As a result, your shoulders can experience the following:


A shoulder dislocation occurs when the ball is forced out of the socket. This injury is excruciating and hard to ignore — not only is the pain quite severe, but you also can’t move your arm.

Rotator cuff tears

The band of connective tissues that keep your upper arm bone in the socket is collectively called the rotator cuff. Each year, about two million people in the United States see a doctor for a rotator cuff tear — either partial or complete. The pain accompanying a rotator cuff tear can come and go with specific movements and affect you at night. In addition to the pain, you may experience weakness in your shoulder when you try to lift and rotate your arm.


Your shoulder joint features tiny bursa sacs that prevent friction between bones. If a bursa sac becomes inflamed, it can lead to an ache in your shoulder.


If the tendons in your shoulder become inflamed, which is usually due to overuse, it can lead to pain in your shoulder.


Like other joints, your shoulders can develop arthritis, making movement painful and stiff.

This list isn’t complete, but these are some of the more common problems we see coming through our doors.

Remedying your shoulder pain

Once we diagnose what’s causing your shoulder pain, physical therapy (PT) can play a crucial role in helping you find relief. Our targeted strengthening and stretching exercises aim to reduce inflammation and encourage better joint health and support.

It would be hard to say how we approach your shoulder pain, as your PT plan depends on the underlying problem. Rest assured, we work diligently toward pain relief and protection against further issues in your shoulders.

If you want to wave goodbye to shoulder pain, please contact one of our offices on the North and South Shores of Staten Island, in Englishtown, New Jersey, or Midtown, Manhattan, in New York City, to schedule a consultation.

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