Shoulder pain: Causes, symptoms and diagnosis


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A mild pain in the hand can cause discomfort and anxiety. If the most active hand hurts, it will even cause more anxiety. When the pain in the shoulder joint is so strong that the hands cannot move with ease, you need to begin treatment immediately. However, you have to know which doctor to visit and the specific check-up you are going for.

Why can my shoulder hurt?

The main factors that cause shoulder discomfort are:

  • Untreated joint injuries. Damaged tendon or cartilage continues to be stressed, leading to even more tissue damage.
  • A long heavy load on one side. Due to constant tension, inflammation may begin in the tendon.
  • Wrong posture. The spine is warped, the vertebrae and the joint of the shoulder can deform, in the neglected cases begin inflammation of nerve fibers.
  • A sedentary lifestyle. The blood circulation around the joint deteriorates, which can lead to the destruction of the cartilage entering it.

Because of these, a person may begin to experience unpleasant symptoms even if they are healthy. However, pain cannot only be due to mechanical damage but also infections, inflammations and tumours. Pain in the shoulder joints is usually a sign of the following diseases:

Osteochondrosis of the cervical departmentThe spine is altered, the nerves are compressed and disturbed
ArthritisInflammation itself brings pain, and in the case of the joint also limits mobility
OsteoarthritisThe cartilage is destroyed, the structure of the joint is disturbed, leading to inflammation and pain when moving
TendonitisPathological condition in which tendons and other soft-woven structures surrounding the shoulder joint are inflamed
CapsiteThe inflamed area of the joint capsule is constantly affected by tendons and bones
Shoulder nerve neuroticInflammation in the nerve causes acute pain and disturbs the sensitivity of the hand
BursitisInflammation around the joint causes discomfort when moving. The most common is when the synovial bag is affected. It performs an important function: protecting muscles and joint cartilage from damage when it is overloaded. Prolonged irritation of synovial bags leads to their inflammation
TumorNew formations limit mobility, inflammation spreads to neighboring areas and require early diagnosis
Hereditary pathologiesMany congenital diseases (e.g. autoimmune processes or hypermobility of joints) lead to cartilage destruction, inflammation of the joints and, as a result cause acute pain
Infectious diseasesDangerous microorganisms through the blood get into the joint, where they provoke inflammation and peril, especially in the case of injuries

Symptoms of possible diseases

Injuries – Such as bruises, fractures are the easiest to define. Aside from being damaged (such as a fall), they have quite a characteristic pain: sharp, increasing when moving. In the event of a fracture, the arm loses the ability to move.

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In osteochondrosis, the pain is at first nagging and weak, but in the absence of treatment it increases. It can spread to the whole hand, causing numbness and tingling fingers.

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint. Often it is observed on both shoulders at the same time, but can develop on the one hand. The affected area swells, becomes sedentary. The pain is sharp and almost intolerable.

Osteoarthritis usually affects the elderly. It is when the cartilage is destroyed leading to damage of the structure of the entire joint, inflammation of the synovial fluid and weakening of the ligaments. The pain in the shoulder joint will be increased by weight lifting or active movement. The patient will also feel discomfort when there is pressure on the collarbone or shoulder blade.

Tendinitis – This is inflammation of the tendon when there is excessive stress on the limb. For instance during regular sports. The pain can be both nagging and sharp. The main sign is usually the suddenness of each attack. The mobility of the heart will also be decreased.

Inflammation of the joint capsule – capsite – This is a very rare disease that causes severe nagging pain which is not only felt in the shoulders but also in the neck and upper back. The pain is so sharp that it may be impossible to raise you hand or to sit back.

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When the shoulder nerve is neurotic, the patient will experience sudden pain that will radiate to the whole shoulder. It can be confused with arthritis or tendonitis but here, the joints are completely healthy but the nerve is inflamed.

Constant pain, which does not go away for several weeks – This is a sign of bursitis and it is a dangerous condition that may become chronic if not treated early.

If the pain infection resembles arthritis – The joint will be inflamed and become destroyed with time. The pain on the shoulder may be originating fro internal organs such as coronary heart disease, heart disease, pancreatitis and inflammation of the lungs.

Diagnostics. Who can help relieve shoulder pain?

It depends on the cause of the disease. If you have an injured or dislocated shoulder, contact a traumatologist. Neuritis and osteochondrosis diagnoses will be done by neurolgist. Conditions of the joints and tendons such as arthritis, tendonitis and osteoarthritis will be treated by a rheumatologist.

If you are concerned not ony about shoulder pain but also with the body’s general deterioration, visit:

  • Therapist – Will determine the range of specialists to whom it is necessary to address in the first place. This will allow the diagnosis to be made faster.
  • Oncologist – Will determine the cause of pain if it is malignancy.
  • Cardiologist – Will examine heart diseases.
  • Gastroenterologist – If the shoulder pain originates from the gastrointestinal tract.
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In most cases, you will have to go through several doctors so as to get the right diagnosis. Also, depending on the disease, you may need the following tests:

  • X-rays of the joint or the whole arm
  • MRI of the shoulder joint
  • X-rays or MRI of the spine
  • Ultrasound of the joint
  • General blood test, ECG, etc. (will be determined by the therapist).

If the joint is all right, and the shoulder hurts because of pathologies, then depending on the reason you may need the following:

  • ECG
  • Gastroscopy
  • Fluorography
  • Blood tests for sexual infections

Why is the cause of pain worth fighting?

Even if you feel that the pain is not as strong and does not worsen you health, have in mind that the lack of treatment always has terrible consequences. Since the pain can have different causes, it may be impossible to predict exactly what may await you in the coming years.

For instance, a bruise may heal on its own without any treatment. But more severe injuries may not be cured by specialists. All the pathological processes of the joints will result to entire loss of movement and can eventually radiate to other parts of the body. Heart disease and lung disease may come with severe complications that may greatly reduce life expectancy.

Do not also forget about preventive measures that includes a healthy lifestyle, correct posture, no hypothermia and getting enough sleep. These simple measures will not only prevent joint pain but will also save you from other serious diseases.


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