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What is going through your Osteopath's mind when a patient comes in with shoulder pain


Shoulder pain

A patient comes in with shoulder pain, it's not as simple as you think. Shoulder pain can result from a wide range of issues, including injuries, degenerative conditions, and systemic diseases. Here are some possible causes of shoulder pain which your Osteopath will consider as a cause to your symptoms :


Musculoskeletal Causes

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries

  • Tendinitis: Inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons, usually due to overuse.

  • Tears: Partial or complete tears of the rotator cuff tendons, either from acute injury or chronic wear.

  1. Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

  • Stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint that develop gradually over time, often without a clear cause.

  1. Shoulder Impingement

  • Compression of the rotator cuff tendons or bursa during shoulder movements, leading to inflammation and pain.

  1. Bursitis

  • Inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction) in the shoulder, often due to repetitive motion.

  1. Shoulder Arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis: Degenerative joint disease causing the breakdown of cartilage.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Autoimmune condition causing joint inflammation.

  1. Shoulder Dislocation

  • The upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket, typically due to trauma.

  1. Labral Tears

  • Tears in the cartilage that lines the shoulder socket, often from injury or repetitive stress.

  1. Fractures

  • Breaks in the bones of the shoulder, such as the clavicle or H88umerus, usually from trauma.


Nerve-Related Causes

  1. Cervical Radiculopathy

  • Nerve root compression in the neck causing referred pain in the shoulder.

  1. Brachial Plexus Injury

  • Injury to the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand.


Systemic Conditions

  1. Heart Conditions

  • Referred pain from conditions like angina or myocardial infarction can present as shoulder pain.

  1. Gallbladder Disease

  • Referred pain from gallbladder issues can sometimes be felt in the shoulder.


Infections and Inflammatory Conditions

  1. Infections

  • Septic arthritis or osteomyelitis (bone infection) can cause shoulder pain.

  1. Polymyalgia Rheumatica

  • An inflammatory disorder causing muscle pain and stiffness, especially in the shoulders.


Other Causes

  1. Poor Posture

  • Chronic poor posture can strain the shoulder muscles and lead to pain.

  1. Overuse Injuries

  • Repetitive activities, especially those involving overhead movements, can lead to overuse injuries.

  1. Tumours

  • Rarely, tumours (benign or malignant) in or around the shoulder can cause pain.


Every patient is different and are always considered on an individual basis.

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