Pain in the...Shoulder? | Carson Tahoe Health

Pain in the shoulder can have several causes, can be temporary or can require further work up for diagnosis and treatment.  Ignoring pain in any joint can lead to further damage. If you are experiencing pain in the shoulder it is important to contact your physician for diagnosis and treatment. Listed below are some common causes of shoulder pain.

Tendon inflammation

Bursitis: Sometimes, excessive use of the shoulder leads to inflammation and swelling of the bursa between the rotator cuff and part of the shoulder blade known as the acromion. The result is a condition known as subacromial bursitis. Bursitis often occurs in association with rotator cuff tendinitis.

Tendonitis: A tendon is a cord that connects muscle to bone. Most tendinitis is a result of a wearing down of the tendon that occurs slowly over time, much like the wearing process on the sole of a shoe that eventually splits from overuse.  Tendinitis can be acute or chronic.

Tendon tears

Splitting and tearing of tendons may result from acute injury or degenerative changes in the tendons due to advancing age, long-term overuse and wear and tear, or a sudden injury. These tears may be partial or may completely split the tendon into two pieces. In most cases of complete tears, the tendon is pulled away from its attachment to the bone. Rotator cuff and biceps tendon injuries are among the most common of these injuries.


Shoulder instability occurs when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket. This can happen as a result of a sudden injury or from overuse. Shoulder dislocations can be partial, with the ball of the upper arm coming just partially out of the socket, versus a complete dislocation where the ball comes all the way out of the socket.  Repeated episodes dislocations lead to an increased risk of developing arthritis in the joint.


The most common type of arthritis in the shoulder is Osteoarthritis. Symptoms, such as swelling, pain, and stiffness, typically begin during middle age. Osteoarthritis can be related to sports or work injuries and chronic wear and tear. It develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time. Other types of arthritis can be related to rotator cuff tears, infection, or an inflammation of the joint lining.