What Can Cause Shoulder Pain Without Injury?

Reviewed on 10/20/2020

How Can You Have Shoulder Pain Without Injury?

Shoulder pain without apparent injury can be caused by arthritis or a pinched nerve, or it can be caused by an underlying condition that does not directly involve the shoulder.
Shoulder pain without apparent injury can be caused by arthritis or a pinched nerve, or it can be caused by an underlying condition that does not directly involve the shoulder.

Shoulder pain is any pain in the shoulder area. Shoulder pain is commonly caused by trauma to the shoulder area, such as rotator cuff injuries, but it can also occur without injury, such as with osteoarthritis

In some cases, shoulder pain may be “referred,” that is, the pain felt in the shoulder is a result of an injury in another part of the body.  

What Are Symptoms of Shoulder Pain Without Injury?

Shoulder pain may be dull or achy, or sharp and severe. Depending on the cause, shoulder pain that is not due to injury may be accompanied by symptoms such as:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness and warmth around the joint
  • Redness
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Inability to move the arm normally
  • Weakness
  • Joint appears deformed
  • Arm or hand weakness or numbness

What Causes Shoulder Pain Without Injury?

Causes of shoulder pain without injury include: 

Causes of referred shoulder pain include: 

QUESTION

Medically speaking, the term "myalgia" refers to what type of pain? See Answer

How Is Shoulder Pain Without Injury Diagnosed?

Shoulder pain is diagnosed with a history and physical exam. Tests used to determine the cause of the shoulder pain include: 

What Is the Treatment for Shoulder Pain Without Injury?

Treatment for shoulder pain without injury depends on the cause:
 

  • Osteoarthritis
    • Rest
    • Modifications to activities
    • Stretching
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Corticosteroid injections
    • Surgery
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Compression of a nerve in the neck (cervical nerve root impingement)
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve)
    • Corticosteroids, either oral or injected
    • Physical therapy: may include gentle cervical traction and mobilization, exercises, and other methods to reduce pain
  • Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
    • Physical therapy 
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve)
    • Corticosteroid injections
    • Surgery
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
    • Physical therapy 
    • Injection of anesthetics or steroids
    • Anticoagulation
    • Surgery
  • Referred shoulder pain
    • Treat the underlying condition

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Reviewed on 10/20/2020
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