General Shoulder Pain

Many other conditions can cause pain in the shoulder. Following are some of the conditions that doctors at the FHCH Sports Medicine Program can detect, diagnose and treat.



Tendons connect a muscle to a bone or other tissue. Tendonitis is often the result of wear and tear over the course of years. Generally, tendonitis is one of several types:

  • Acute tendonitis - Occurs through overuse, such as excessive ball throwing or other sports or work related activities.
  • Chronic tendonitis - Results from degenerative disease or repetitive wear and tear due to age.
  • The splitting and tearing of tendons can result from acute injury or degenerative changes in the tendons because of advancing age. Rotator cuff injuries are among some of the most common of this type of disorder.



When excessive use of the shoulder leads to inflammation and swelling of a bursa, it is known as bursitis. Bursas are fluid-filled sacs located around the joints. These sacs reduce the friction caused by movement of the shoulder. Bursitis is often associated with rotator cuff tendonitis. In some cases, the tissues in the shoulder become inflamed and painful, limiting use of the shoulder. The joint may stiffen. This condition is known as "frozen shoulder." With appropriate care, bursitis will usually go away on its own.



When the bones in one shoulder joint moves out of their normal position because of an injury, instability occurs. This condition can result in a dislocation of one of the joints in the shoulder. Recurring dislocations, which may be partial or complete, can cause pain and a feeling of unsteadiness when you raise your arm or move it away from your body. If you lift your arm over your head, it may feel as if it is slipping out of its place, or feel unusual. Some people refer to it as feeling like they have a "dead" arm.



Often shoulder pain can be caused by arthritis, not an injury. There are many forms of arthritis, but generally they all cause wear and tear due to inflammation of the joint, swelling, pain and stiffness. Arthritis can be related to work or sports injuries as well as being hereditary. Unfortunately, the initial reaction is to avoid moving the shoulder in a manner that causes pain. This can lead to additional tightening and stiffening of the soft tissues in the joints, causing restricted motion that can be even more painful and debilitating.


If you have questions about any of these general shoulder pain conditions or want to make an appointment, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to assist you.