The Painful Shoulder

Pain is the most common presenting complaint of  the shoulder.   The diagnosis of your shoulder condition depends on where the pain is and where the pain is referred too. 

Pain felt over the outer aspect of the arm is very typical of sub acromial impingement. This pain also travels down the outer side of the arm to the elbow but rarely goes below the elbow. Causes of sub acromial impingement include a sub acromial bursitis, calcific tendonitis or a rotator cuff tear.

Pain felt directly on the top of the shoulder is very typical of a acromioclavicular joint problem (also known as the A C Joint).  The pain is typicall described between the collar bone and the shoulder blade.  The main causes of this type of pain is arthritis of the joint or further problems after dislocation of the A C  joint has happened.

Pain felt at the front of the shoulder is typical of problem with the biceps tendon or referred pain from the acromioclavicular joint (ACJ).

Pain felt deep inside the shoulder bothat the front and back often indicates problem inside the joint.  A diagnoisis here could be a frozen shoulder or shoulder arthritis.

Pain felt around the back of the shoulder blade or pain coming down the back of the arm into the hand often indicates sources outside the shoulder such as neck problem.  Your neck will  be examined as part of any assessment of the shoulder.

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