What Is Causing My Shoulder Pain? | Physical Therapy for everyBODY
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What Is Causing My Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder Pain

If you have ever reached overhead to grab something from a cabinet and gotten a stabbing pain in your shoulder then you know how concerning that sudden, sharp pain is.

Or maybe you have just been going about your daily activities, cleaning the house, helping the kids, and exercising only to find that your shoulder is sore at night and you are struggling to sleep on that side (or the other side!).

Shoulder pain is a common complaint we see here at PT4EB and we understand how it impacts your daily activities and overall quality of life. Whether it’s a dull ache, sharp stabbing sensation, or persistent discomfort, shoulder pain can significantly affect your productivity and quality of life.

Understanding the root cause of your shoulder pain is crucial for effective management and treatment. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the various factors that may be contributing to your shoulder pain, explore some common symptoms, and provide some treatment options so you can take your next best step.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint and allow for a wide range of motion. Injuries to the rotator cuff, including tears or strain, are a common cause of shoulder pain. These injuries can occur due to repetitive overhead motions, trauma from a fall, or overuse from daily activities with the shoulder not properly supported on the rib cage.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff become pinched or compressed between the bones of the shoulder joint. Shoulder impingement can cause inflammation, pain, and decreased shoulder motion. You may find that you only have symptoms in a particular position and you are able to modify your activities to avoid this position.


Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two common types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder joint. Osteoarthritis occurs due to wear and tear of the cartilage lining the joint surfaces, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation and damage to the joint. RA most commonly starts in the smaller joints in the hands.


Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa which are small fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate the shoulder joint. Repetitive motions or trauma can irritate the bursa, leading to inflammation and pain. Subacromial bursitis is a common type of bursitis that affects the shoulder region, causing discomfort with arm movements.

Pinched nerve

The nerves that start in your neck travel into and through your shoulder on their way to your hand. This means that the nerves can get pinched at the neck where they are exiting or as they intricately weave their way through your shoulder. It’s important to determine where the initial pinch is happening because this is the region that needs to be treated to allow for complete symptoms resolution.

If you are looking for some tests that you can do at home to understand more about what is causing your shoulder pain, then I encourage you to watch this video. In it Dr. Amy discusses the common causes of shoulder pain and simple tests you can do to see what is causing your shoulder pain.

Should I get an X-ray for My Shoulder Pain?

Many people who start having shoulder pain visit their MD hoping to be able to see (via X-ray) what the problem is with their shoulder. Since many of the common causes of shoulder pain are soft tissue injuries the X-ray is “unremarkable” and does not provide people with the answers they are seeking.

Or, the X-ray shows arthritis in the joint which gets blamed for the shoulder pain. However, arthritis builds over time and doesn’t just start all of a sudden. If your pain came on suddenly, you may have arthritis in the joint but this may not be the root cause of your pain. Which means if you get treatment for the shoulder arthritis you may not get the relief of symptoms you are hoping for.

Perhaps your shoulder X-ray revealed some abnormal bony alignment in your shoulder and your shoulder pain is blamed on this. In this case, the doctor may recommend surgery to fix the bony problem. We always caution people who are thinking about going through surgery to fix a bony abnormality. You see, this bony abnormality is most likely genetic and you have had it since birth. If you are in your 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s and just started experiencing shoulder pain recently then this may not be the true cause of your symptoms.

If you would like to learn more about your shoulder pain and what the root cause is then we encourage you to schedule a Free Discovery Visit. During this visit, we will listen to your shoulder pain journey and ask you good questions to help determine what your next best steps are. We offer this 100% free visit so you can feel confident in the choice you are making.

You don’t need to have an X-ray or even see a doctor to qualify for one of these Free Discovery Visits. If you do have imaging available, feel free to bring a copy of the report or the images with you and we will provide you with our Specialist perspective.

What Can You Do Right Now To Decrease Your Shoulder Pain


Every tissue in your body is designed to heal…as long as it’s moving correctly. When you have pain your body naturally creates abnormal movement patterns. Resting for 2-3 days can help to decrease pain and allow your tissues to start the healing process.


Ice is a powerful pain inhibitor which means it decreases pain for a short period of time. Icing your shoulder for 5 minutes every hour can help to decrease your symptoms and allow for pain free movement. For shoulders, we recommend using a bag of frozen peas because it helps to conform to the shape of your shoulder.

Stretches and Exercises

Shoulder stretches and exercises can be an effective way to decrease tension and improve motion in your shoulder. To learn safe, effective exercises and stretches you can do right now, check out our YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/@PT4Everybody

Physical Therapy with a Specialist

If you are ready to get to the root of your problem, understand what started this problem in the first place, and learn what you can do to help your specific shoulder pain, then I encourage you to sign up for one of our Free Discovery Visits. At Physical Therapy for everyBODY you will be seen by the same Specialist at every appointment and never passed off to techs or aides. You will be given a specific set of exercises for your and your body – not a generalized sheet that is given to everyone with shoulder pain. And, you will have time to ask all your questions.

If you’re experiencing persistent or severe shoulder pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. We will provide you with a complete evaluation and guidance tailored to your individual needs. Remember, early intervention is key to achieving optimal outcomes and getting back to doing the things you love without shoulder pain holding you back.

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Struggling with pain and dysfunction can impact every part of our lives — it drains our energy, distracts us from our goals, and keeps us from the people and activities we love. As an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Dr. Amy Konvalin understands how frustrating those limitations can be — and she knows how to help get you back to the life you want to live! Beginning with a focused evaluation, Dr. Amy works to determine the root causes of your pain, as well as understanding how it affects the way you move through your world. Dysfunctional patterns of movement often grow worse with time and cause further damage if left untreated — so it’s important to address these issues as soon as possible. Dr. Amy knows there is no one-size-fits-all plan for success, and she partners with patients to identify their unique treatment goals and personal values. Using these goals as a guide, Amy uses her doctorate training in manual (hands-on) therapy and exercise prescription to treat patients with a wide variety of medical challenges and histories throughout the Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Covington areas. Dr. Amy is also a wife to a Boeing superstar/former C-130 navigator. While they lived in Germany, Dr. Amy was able to volunteer with the US Army to treat military personnel and civilians on base. She has two beautiful teenage ballerinas who keep her on her toes and educate her on all things ballet! Bailey, the princess pup, is her running partner and her napping partner. In the spare moments in between, Amy enjoys reading, yoga, wine with friends, Pilates, and walking on the beach.
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