Shoulder Pain Symptoms

Below are listed a number of shoulder pain symptoms. Click on any below to view a list of injuries with that particular symptom.
  • Aching shoulder

    Aching or burning pain in the shoulder joint can be intermittent or constant. It can be referred from the neck and can either be at the front (anteriorly), the back (posteriorly) or from deep in the joint. An aching shoulder can be from a direct blow, a traumatic incident such as a fall, wear and tear (degeneration) or overuse.

  • 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.

  • Gradual onset shoulder pain

    Chronic shoulder pain, which comes on gradually over time can be due to different causes. The patient is unlikely to be able to pin point the exact time the injury occurred. Chronic pain in the shoulder can also develop following an acute or sudden onset shoulder injury, which fails to heal properly.

  • Radiating shoulder pain

    Pain in the shoulder, which may radiate down the arm or up into the neck can be either from the shoulder itself or neck. The pain can be through the nervous system where a compression or injury to the nerve may have happened. Radiating pain can also be through rest or movement from structures inside or outside of the joint.

  • Shoulder 60 degree arc pain

    Pain in the shoulder when the arm is raised out sideways (abducted) and up over shoulder height. There will be pain between 60 degrees and 120 degrees of shoulder abduction if there is a painful arc syndrome and can be sharp, dull or a radiating pain.

  • Shoulder blade pain

    Pain on or around the scapula or shoulder blade. The scapula may protrude in the case of a winged scapula and can be due to tightness, weakness or issues with other structures. In some cases the shoulder blade or scapula can be fractured and an aching or sharp pain can be present. Shoulder blade pain can also be burning or radiating from the neck where the nervous system may have been affected. In levator scapulae issues trigger points or stiffness can also cause neck pain with shoulder blade pain. Also due to the location of the rotator cuff muscles to the shoulder blade and attachment any injuries to these or related injuries, which affect these muscles, can elicit scapula pain.

  • Shoulder deformity

    Deformity of the shoulder which could be a visible lump or bump on the top of the shoulder as in AC joint sprain or from the joint in general as in a dislocated shoulder. Shoulder deformities can also be from ruptured muscles / tendons or from a large spasm where the shoulder can look deformed. Spasms can be to protect the joint when an injury as occurred. Deformities can also be from other conditions such as a congenital issue like Sprengle’s deformity or an obstetric brachial plexus paralysis.

  • Shoulder instability

    Unstable shoulder joint or a feeling that it will pop out or dislocate can be from weakness or an injury of the rotator cuff. It can also be due to a shoulder joint injury where the ligaments or labrum is injured either in an acute situation or chronic issue. Shoulder instability may also not be known to the athlete due to the muscles working appropriately and can be small painful episodes instead such as reaching for an object or brushing your teeth.

  • Shoulder joint pain

    Pain deep in the shoulder joint, which cannot easily be localized to a specific point, can be acute or chronic. It is usually associated with bone, ligament or cartilage damage. The joint can also be swollen causing joint pain and arthritis can cause this. The tendons and bursa can also cause joint shoulder pain and this can be a burning feeling.

  • Shoulder pain at night

    Pain in the shoulder, which comes on during the night or gets worse while sleeping is usual due to the position. During rest the muscles relax and if there is laxity in the ligaments or a cartilage injury the shoulder can be painful at night. Night pain can be an arthritic issue and it can be difficult to sleep due to the pain when a person as this.

  • Shoulder pain with overhead movements

    Pain in the shoulder when using the arm overhead such as in racket sports and swimming can be acute or chronic. Swelling can cause pain on overhead movements but frozen shoulder or a painful arc can also produce this pain. Pain when reaching or throwing can be due to a tear of the labrum (cartilage) or from damage to the ligaments, tendons, muscles or bones. A bursa can become impinged and inflamed on tasks overhead and cause a shooting or burning pain.

  • Shoulder stiffness

    Stiffness or restricted movement in the shoulder joint can also have pain present. Pain with a stiff shoulder can be from an adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder), a labral tear, bone surface damage, creating an osteochondral defect (OCD), loose bodies, muscle tightness, strains or tears and ligament damage.

  • Shoulder swelling

    Swollen shoulder or swelling in or around the shoulder joint can be from a direct impact like a contusion. There may be specific local swelling on the top of the shoulder as in an acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain, or general swelling in the shoulder joint which would accompany a dislocation or other acute shoulder injury. Swelling can also be through an arthritic joint or a muscle rupture, which can look swollen but can be hard to touch in some cases. Swelling can also occur with a rotator cuff or cartilage injury and can be associated with pain. Some medical conditions through infections or bites can also cause shoulder swelling and can also cause redness.

  • Sudden onset shoulder pain

    Shoulder pain, which comes on suddenly or acute shoulder pain is common especially with falling or landing. The pain can be referred from the neck in acute injuries. Sudden shoulder pain can be sharp or dull and be an injury to the rotator cuff or to the joint such as a labrum detachment which maybe with or without swelling. This type of pain can be due to muscle, ligament or bone damage such as a fracture. Infections can also come on suddenly and can cause acute shoulder pain as well as inflammation to the brachial plexus called a brachial neuritis.

  • Top of shoulder pain

    Pain on the top of the shoulder can be an injury to the trapezius or from the deltoid muscle. The Acromioclavicular (AC) is a frequent cause of shoulder pain at the top and can be inflamed or be from torn ligaments. Also the Clavicle can be a source of top shoulder pain and fractures can create swelling with pain in this area. .