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Common causes of anterior shoulder pain

Anterior shoulder pain is a prevalent complaint that can arise from a variety of causes. The shoulder is a complex and highly mobile joint, making it susceptible to various injuries and conditions. Understanding the common causes of anterior shoulder pain is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Here are some of the most frequent reasons for anterior shoulder pain:

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilise the shoulder joint and facilitate its movement. Injuries to the rotator cuff, such as tears or strains, can lead to anterior shoulder pain. These injuries can occur due to overuse, trauma, or degeneration with age.

  2. Impingement Syndrome: Shoulder impingement occurs when the space between the acromion (a bony projection of the shoulder blade) and the rotator cuff tendons narrows, causing compression and irritation of the tendons. This can result from repetitive overhead activities or poor shoulder mechanics.

  3. Biceps Tendonitis: Inflammation of the long head of the biceps tendon, which runs through the front of the shoulder, can cause anterior shoulder pain. This condition is often associated with overuse or repetitive lifting.

  4. Labral Tears: The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket, providing stability to the joint. Tears or damage to the labrum can cause pain in the anterior shoulder, especially during certain movements.

  5. Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): Frozen shoulder is characterised by a gradual loss of shoulder mobility and is often accompanied by pain in the front of the shoulder. The exact cause is not well understood, but it typically progresses through stages of pain, stiffness, and eventual recovery.

  6. Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear) and inflammatory arthritis conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to anterior shoulder pain as the joint deteriorates and becomes inflamed.

  7. Fractures: Fractures of the Humerus (upper arm bone), clavicle (collarbone), or scapula (shoulder blade) can cause significant anterior shoulder pain, especially if the fracture involves the joint.

  8. Nerve Compression: Compression of nerves in the neck or shoulder region, such as the brachial plexus or cervical nerves, can radiate pain to the anterior shoulder. Conditions like thoracic outlet syndrome or cervical radiculopathy can be responsible for such compression.

  9. Referred Pain: Sometimes, pain originating from structures in other parts of the body, such as the neck or upper back, can be perceived as anterior shoulder pain. This is known as referred pain and can be misleading when diagnosing the source of discomfort.

  10. Overuse and Strain: Repetitive overhead activities, poor posture, or excessive strain on the shoulder can lead to muscle imbalances and strain, causing pain in the front of the shoulder.

It's important to note that accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential for managing anterior shoulder pain effectively. Medical professionals can conduct evaluations, imaging studies (e.g., X-rays, MRI), and physical examinations to determine the underlying cause of the pain and recommend the most suitable treatment options, which may include rest, physical therapy, medication, injections, or surgery in more severe cases.


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