Redwood Orthopaedic Surgery Associates | Santa Rosa, CA

What causes shoulder pain?

Fit swimmer standing by the pool touching his shoulder Pain in your shoulder can have many causes, but sometimes you may not know what is causing the pain, especially if you don’t have an injury. Read on to learn more about the different types of shoulder problems and what can be done to correct them.


The ball-and-socket joint in your shoulder gives you range of motion, but it can get dislocated from repeated stress. If your shoulder is too stiff or painful and you can’t move your arm normally, then you may have a shoulder injury. If you feel like your shoulder could pop out of the socket or your shoulder isn’t strong enough to do daily activities, you may have a shoulder injury.

While you can treat some shoulder pain at home with rest and ice, you may need to see a doctor right away if you can’t use your shoulder at all, your shoulder joint looks deformed, your pain is intense, you have shoulder swelling, or you have numbness or weakness in your arm or hand.


Outside of injury, there are many causes of shoulder pain. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage between bones breaks down and the bones rub together, causing pain and stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis is when your body’s immune system attacks the protective lining in your joints, including the shoulder joints, causing stiffness and pain.

Tendinitis happens slowly over time or when you suffer a fall or direct hit to the shoulder. The tendons in the rotator cuff get inflamed and cause pain.

Bone spurs can lead to tendinitis or a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder. This happens when small pieces of bone rub against each other and wear down the rotator cuff, keeping the shoulder from moving the way that it should.

Shoulder pain can also be referred pain, when something is wrong with other organs in your body such as the gallbladder or liver. If your shoulder hurts, your chest feels tight and you have trouble breathing, this could be a sign of a heart attack. You will need emergency help right away.

If you are dealing with a shoulder injury or pain, it’s important to get a diagnosis to treat the pain accordingly. To learn more about treatments for shoulder problems, call us at 707.544.3400 to make an appointment.

Posted in: Shoulder Treatments

Request An Appointment

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Office Info

Call Today (707) 544-3400