Shoulder Pain: Is It Just Pain in the Shoulder? Or Something Else?

Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a wide range of motion. Because it is a complex and extremely mobile joint, it is also at high risk of injury. When you have shoulder pain, your mobility and strength will suffer.


Most often, shoulder pain occurs because of damaged structures inside. But what if it’s something else? Here are some things you might want to know:

Most Shoulder Pain is a Result of Aging or Injury

Many shoulder problems involve breakdown of soft tissues. The breakdown can be caused by wear and tear or acute injuries.


Older people are more commonly affected by shoulder pain. Structural and functional changes, as well as certain illnesses can contribute to the dysfunction of their shoulder joint. Most often, they experience shoulder pain due to osteoarthritis. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age.


But younger people can experience it too. Active ones, especially athletes, are prone to injury. For example, an injury such as dislocated shoulder, can lead to shoulder osteoarthritis.

Shoulder Pain May Indicate an Underlying Disease

Certain diseases can cause shoulder pain. These include spinal disorders, diabetes, liver disease and heart disease.

Spinal Disorders

Usually, in spinal disorders, the discs and the nerves are affected.


Disc disorders can cause compression of the nerve roots in the spinal column. A disc can be bulged or can be out of alignment, either of which can put pressure on a nerve root.


Another condition that occurs in your spine is spinal stenosis. In spinal stenosis, the available space for the spinal cord and the nerves becomes narrow. This puts more pressure on the nerves.


Nerve irritation may result when a nerve gets pressed on. When any nerve root in your neck or upper back area is irritated, the symptoms can radiate along the nerve’s pathway including your shoulder, arm and hand.


Diabetes and frozen shoulder can go hand in hand. Frozen shoulder happens when the capsule (sleeve surrounding the shoulder joint) swells and thickens. It’s unclear to us experts why this occurs. But some experts believe that excess glucose affects the collagen in the shoulder.


Collagen is a building block in the ligaments that hold the bones together in a joint. When sugar molecules come in and attach to the collagen, the collagen becomes sticky.


The sticky buildup then leads to stiff shoulders, and the pain makes it difficult to move your arm.

Liver Disease

If there is pain in the upper right of the abdomen, just below the ribs, it may indicate liver pain. It is almost associated with a swelling or enlargement of a liver, inflammation, distention, or any injury that cause pressure on the liver’s capsule, the covering portion of the liver.


Sometimes, people perceive it as pain in the right shoulder. It can be severe in some cases and may cause a back pain.

Heart Disease

Shoulder pain and heart attack can have a connection. The discomfort felt from a heart attack can cause chest pain or shoulder pain.


People having heart attack may experience shoulder or arm pain on the left side. This is because the nerves that supply the chest and the shoulders also supply the heart.


What lies beyond shoulder pain can be complicated, just like how complex the shoulder is. You can’t simply throw just about any treatment creams or patches to your shoulder. The best way to sort it out is visit a physiotherapist for some diagnostic examinations.


If your shoulder pain is mechanically-related, a Perth physiotherapist can help you. Specific exercises will help to strengthen your shoulder. Not only they help you recover, they’ll also reduce the risk of injuries in the future.
Are you having a hard time because of your shoulder pain? Call us today at 9444 8729.