Front shoulder pain

Pain at the front of the shoulder or anterior pain can be acute or chronic. The bicep muscle and tendon is at the front of the shoulder and can be injured from a strain, tear or inflammatory response. The acromioclavicular joint or sternoclavicular joint can cause front shoulder pain. These joints can be swollen or can have sprain, torn or ruptured ligaments causing anterior pain that can be excruciating especially on movement.

A common ‘frozen’ shoulder or capsulitis can cause front shoulder pain at rest or on any movement of the joint similar to a shoulder impingement or painful arc syndrome. Front shoulder pain can also be caused by medical issues and can be referred from the neck in cervical radiculopathies. Injuries with this symptom are listed below:
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

    Shoulder Impingement

    Impingement syndrome is sometimes called swimmer’s shoulder or thrower’s shoulder, and is caused by the tendons of the rotator cuff becoming trapped as they pass through the shoulder joint. It may follow a partial tear of a rotator cuff tendon, or come on gradually through overuse. Resting the shoulder and treating it as soon as possible will help to prevent long term damage.

  • Glenoid Labrum Tear

    Glenoid Labrum Tear

    The glenoid labrum is a fibrous ring of tissue which attaches to the rim of the glenoid shallow hole or socket of the shoulder blade where the ball of the humerus or arm bone sits. When this tissue tears, it creates general shoulder pain and weakness in the joint. This shoulder injury is often caused by repetitive movemment such as overhead throwing, so resting from these activities will help to ease the pain.

  • Shoulder Tendonitis

    Shoulder Tendonitis

    Shoulder Tendonitis or Tenosynovitis is a degenerative condition of any of the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. This is usually the rotator cuff tendons but it can also occur in the biceps and triceps tendons. The shoulder pain usually comes on gradually and is due to repetitive movements and overuse. It is common in those with poor posture and those who use the joint a lot, like athletes who throw and manual workers.

  • Subacromial Bursitis

    Subacromial Bursitis

    Subacromial bursitis has similar symptoms to Supraspinatus tendinitis with shoulder pain over a 60-degree arc when the arm is lifted sideways. The subacromial bursa is a sack of fluid over the tendon which helps facilitate movement. This can become trapped, especially in sports where the arm is regularly at or above shoulder level. Resting from these activities helps stop the pain, and once pain-free, you can start doing rehabilitation exercises.

  • Supraspinatus Inflammation

    Supraspinatus Inflammation

    The supraspinatus muscle is one of the rotator cuff muscles which runs along the top of the shoulder blade and inserts via the tendon at the top of the arm or humerus bone. The supraspinatus tendon can become inflamed from overuse which makes it feel painful and weak, especially when moving the arm and shoulder sideways. Read more on the symptoms and treatment here.

  • Subscapularis Inflammation

    Subscapularis Inflammation

    The subscapularis is a very powerful muscle that rotates the arm inwards, and is part of the rotator cuff group of muscles. When the subscapularis is inflamed it will be painful to move the shoulder and the tendon in the inner upper arm will be tender to touch. The subscapularis is often injured by throwers and can be stubborn to treat. Read more on how to treat this injury below.

  • Pec Major Tendon Inflammation

    Pec Major - inflammation

    The Pectoralis Major tendon is weakest where it inserts into the arm, or humerus bone. Common sports that can inflame the tendon include racket sports, rowing, swimming and weight training, and the pain when performing these activites will probably have increased over a period of time. Resting from these sports is essential to recovering form this shoulder injury. Read more on the symptoms and treatments below.

  • Long Head of Biceps Inflammation

    Long Head Biceps Inflammation

    The biceps muscle splits into two tendons at the shoulder. The long tendon runs over the top of the upper arm and attaches to the top of the shoulder blade. Pain will normally be at the front of the shoulder where the muscle is attached. Inflammation of this area is common among athletes, such as swimmers and weightlifters. Read more on the symptoms of biceps tendon inflammation and what you can do to treat it here.

  • Clavicle Muscle Attachments Inflammation

    Clavicle Attachments Inflammation

    The Clavicle, or collarbone, has a number of muscle attachments along its length. The tendons that attach the muscles to the front of the shoulder and collarbone can become painful and inflamed through overuse. This injury is particularly found in athletes who do a lot of throwing, such as cricketers. Read more on the symptoms and the treatments of this injury below.

  • Clavicle Fracture

    Clavicle Fracture

    A clavicle fracture, or broken collarbone as it is also known, is a fracture of the clavicle bone. The clavicle runs along the front of the shoulder to the breastbone or sternum in the middle of the chest, and can be fractured by a fall. The fracture normally happens towards the middle of the bone but can also happen near the shoulder. The pain will be intense and medical help is needed immediately.

  • Long Head of Biceps Rupture

    Long Head Biceps Rupture

    The biceps muscle splits into two tendons at the shoulder. The long tendon runs over the top of the humerus bone and can suffer a partial rupture causing pain at the front of the shoulder. This shoulder injury is more common in older athletes and can cause pain down the arm and swelling in the joint.

  • Pec Major Tendon Strain (Rupture)

    Pec Major - Strain

    The pectoralis major muscle is a large powerful muscle at the front of the chest. It is used to rotate the arm inwards. Its weak point is where the tendon attaches to the arm bone, and a strain or rupture can happen here when it is put under stress, when weight training for example. Symptoms of this shoulder injury include pain and swelling at the front of the shoulder.

  • Shoulder Sprain

    Shoulder Sprain

    A shoulder sprain is damage to the shoulder ligaments or capsule which support the glenohumeral or shoulder joint. This is caused by a stretching of the fibers or partial to full tears of the ligaments or joint capsule, like if the arm is pulled backwards. The shoulder will feel painful and tender, often with swelling, which can be eased by rest and putting the arm in a sling.

  • Deltoid Muscle Strain

    Deltoid Muscle Strain

    The Deltoid muscle is the large muscle on the top & outside of the shoulder. Although not a common injury, an injured Deltoid can result in pain at the front, side or back of the shoulder, particularly when lifting the arm from the side to the front. Deltoid muscle strains are categorised into grades, depending on the severity of the injury, which can be read about below.

  • Shoulder Pain

    Shoulder injuries can be either acute or chronic depending on when they are diagnosed and how long the pain or disability has been felt for. If you are not sure what your injury is why not check out our shoulder pain symptom checker! An acute shoulder injury occurs suddenly either through direct impact, over stretching a muscle, tendon or ligament, overusing a muscle or tendon or twisting of the shoulder joint. A chronic shoulder injury may come on gradually over time.

  • Chronic Shoulder Injuries

    Gradual onset shoulder pain or chronic shoulder pain may come on over a period of time. The athlete may not have known the exact time of injury which could have been niggling away for a while as they train through it. Due to the complexity of the shoulder joint, there are some injuries which may appear to have happened suddenly but also may develop gradually over time. A chronic shoulder injury may also be acutely painful.

  • Acute Shoulder Injuries

    Sudden onset or acute shoulder injuries are ones which happen suddenly, often though a fall onto an outstretched arm or through direct impact or over stretching or overloading. Often the athlete will feel a sudden sharp pain with discomfort and or loss of mobility. Sometimes there will be swelling and inflammation. It is important acute shoulder injuries are treated as soon as possible with the PRICE princples of immediate first aid. Always seek medical advice if pain is severe or you are in any doubt.