Sudden Shoulder Pain Without Injury Explained

Sudden Shoulder Pain Without Injury Explained

Sometimes we develop shoulder pain suddenly without any injury. Shoulder pain can vary from being mild to severe. It can be a dull ache or a sharp, shooting pain. The shoulder pain may occur along with the swelling, tenderness, weakness, and inability to use the arm for activities of daily living. This type of shoulder pain can stem from several causes like-

  • Cervical Radiculopathy– Shoulder and arm pain can result from a pinched nerve in the cervical region. It can be due to a bony spur, herniated disc, or wear and tear of the cervical disc. Pain is sharp and felt down the arm and hand depending upon the nerve involved. The pins and needles sensation occurs in the hand and fingers.
  • Osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint – Osteoarthritis impacts the functioning of the entire shoulder complex. The cartilage of the shoulder flakes because of wear and tear. It leads to the rubbing of bones against each other and causes pain.
  • Shoulder Bursitis– Bursa are fluid-filled sac in the joint which helps in frictionless movement. In bursitis, the bursa gets inflamed and irritated. It causes pain and hampers the smooth mobility at the joint.
  • Frozen Shoulder/Adhesive Capsulitis-It is the progressive restriction of shoulder movement due to capsular tightness. The capsule lines the shoulder joint. Frozen shoulder is idiopathic and is prevalent in the age group of 40-60 years. People with systemic diseases like diabetes are more prone to frozen shoulders.
  • Shoulder Impingement– A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles responsible primarily for rotation and initiation of the sideways lifting of the arm. When the rotator cuff gets impinged under the bony prominence called the acromion, it leads to pain, swelling, and movement restriction at the shoulder.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome-In this condition, the blood vessels or nerves are compressed in the space between the collarbone (clavicle) and the first rib. It causes pain in the neck, shoulder, and arm.
  • Biceps tendinitis-Due to overuse, the biceps tendon gets inflamed or irritated. It leads to pain in front of the shoulder along with weakness.
  • Referred pain to the shoulder occurs from cardiac issues or gastrointestinal issues.

Rest from aggravating activities is crucial for healing. Non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs) are helpful. Physical therapy plays a major role in relieving shoulder pain and improving its function through exercises, stretching, and various therapeutic modalities. Some cases may require corticosteroid injections and surgery depending upon the severity. Referred pain requires treatment of the underlying medical condition.


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