This section relates to pain originating from the shoulder girdle (ie ball and socket joint) not the upper trapezius area (please see neck pain). Shoulder pain sometimes occurs alongside neck pain and usually stems from either a single injury, or can build up over time due to repetitive strain. An examination is required to determine the cause of the pain.
The two most common diagnoses are a rotator cuff tendonitis or a frozen shoulder syndrome (adhesive capsulitis).
Rotator cuff tendonitis is inflammation of the muscle tendon and is relatively common. It can be very painful but often responds well to treatment. Occasionally it is caused by calcific deposits (calcific tendonitis) or bony encroachment due to degenerative changes to the joint. In these cases often referral for a cortisone injection or sometimes even a decompression surgery is necessary. However, this is quite rare and in most cases the shoulder pain is due to a simple tendonitis.
Frozen shoulder syndrome involves inflammation of the shoulder capsule with pain and restriction of the surrounding soft tissues. This results in a reduction of range of motion (freezing stage), which gradually worsens until hardly any movement remains (frozen stage). After some time the pain and stiffness gradually reduce (thawing stage). This usually takes an average of 18 months to 2 years to complete the whole process. However, with treatment the process can be sped up and sometimes even stopped in it’s tracks.
Whether you suffer from rotator cuff tendonitis or frozen shoulder syndrome, it is better to start treatment as early as possible.