What Causes an Aching Shoulder?

aching shoulder

A persons shoulder is made up of the following: humerus, glenoid, scapula, acromion, clavicle, and surrounding tissues.  There are also three important articulations of the shoulder joints, namely: the sternoclavicular, the acromioclavicular, and the glenohumeral.  It is the latter that is most likely to be dislocated.

Aching shoulder is said to be a common symptom of tension, and the third most common cause of musculoskeletal consultation.  The main muscles affected by the pain are the traperzius and levator scapula that can easily be stretched gently for relief.

It is a normal occurrence that as a person advances in age, their joints and tissues can degenerate, tear apart, and easily get hurt. The general rule that should apply to relieve an aching shoulder is to move it, rather than to keep it rested. A simple passive stretch for only a few seconds can help alleviate the pain; but it should not be done longer; otherwise it might result to inflammation of the tendons. 

There are at least two types of shoulder pain, namely: pain at night even as the person tries to sleeps, and; pain that occurs when the shoulder is engaged in particular movement(s).  Most often, the pain is caused by frozen shoulder, rotator cuff disorder, shoulder instability, and acromioclavicular joint disorder.

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, refers to an agonizing condition that restricts movement of the shoulder joint.  It occurs for no known reason at all, even as its cause is not well understood.

Rotator cuff disorder. The rotator cuff is a group of four tough and flexible tendons responsible for the stabilization of the shoulder joint.  When tissues in the shoulder get damaged or irritated, disorder occurs in the rotator cuff.  Such disorders include tendinitis or bursitis, impingement, calcium build up in the tendons, and partial or complete tears of the rotator cuff tendons.

Shoulder instability.  People who experience this kind of pain often bemoan of an excruciating feeling of shoulder seemingly sliding apart, a description which physician call apprehension. Shoulder instability happens when the structures around the glenohumeral joint fail to keep the ball within its socket.  If the joint becomes too loose, there is a tendency for it to go off its position partially, a condition known as shoulder subluxation.  But if the joint goes off completely, it is referred to as shoulder dislocation.

Acromioclavicular joint disorder.  This is a degenerative disease affecting the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, the joint found at the end of the collar bone at the top of the shoulder.

Treatments for these vary and will of course be different for each person. Like said before stretching and using the shoulder muscles can help more than resting and not using it.  Placing a cold compress on the area also helps, as it reduces the swelling, taking anti-inflammatory tablets will also help to do this and reduce the pain felt.

Visiting a chiropractor is advisable as they will be able to help pinpoint the problem and provide therapeutic massage to reduce pain, inflammation and loosen up some of the muscles.