Shoulder pain can either come from the joint itself or from any of the surrounding muscles, ligaments or tendons. This type of pain typically gets worse with movement of your arm or shoulder. Sometimes diseases or conditions that affect the structures in your chest or abdomen, such as heart or gallbladder disease, can cause shoulder pain. If the shoulder pain comes from another structure, it is known as referred pain and this type of pain typically does not worsen with movement.

There are many different causes of shoulder pain. Some examples include:

  • Avascular necrosis
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Broken arm
  • Bursitis
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Heart stack
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sprains and strains
  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Tendinitis

When to seek emergency medical assistance:

If your shoulder pain is accompanied by difficulty breathing or a sense of tightness in your chest, it may be the symptom of a heart attack. Some other symptoms that are cause for a trip to the emergency room include: a joint that appears deformed, inability to use the joint or move your arm away from your body, sudden swelling or intense pain.

You should make an appointment with a doctor if your pain is accompanied by swelling, redness or tenderness and warmth around the joint.

To relieve minor pain you can try:

  • Pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve
  • Rest—avoid using your shoulder
  • Ice—apply an ice pack to your should for 15-20 minutes a few times a day

Mayo Clinic (2014). Shoulder Pain.