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Why Does My Shoulder Hurt When I Lift My Arm?

You lift your arm, and you feel intense pain that brings you to your knees. You haven't had a recent injury, so you wonder: "why is my shoulder hurting just from lifting my arm?"

Several factors may be contributing to the discomfort. Before resorting to shoulder surgery, your doctor will often first recommend several sessions of physical therapy.

What Could Be the Cause of My Shoulder Pain?

Before starting physical therapy, work with a physician to find the source of the problem. Any one of the following conditions can be the reason you have pain and are experiencing impairment.

Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is a syndrome where the tendons of the shoulder are inflamed. The tendonitis often occurs around the rotator cuff muscles or the supraspinatus muscles. In effect, patients have weakness, mobility limitations, and severe pain.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A common known cause of shoulder pain is a rotator cuff injury. Tendonitis in the rotator cuff can occur with injury and sometimes without. There is also a condition called rotator cuff bursitis, where the bursa, the lining that provides cushioning between the bones and tendons, becomes inflamed.

The cause can be underlying degenerative conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy can all be helpful treatment options.

Eventually, if left untreated, the tendonitis results in a tear or torn rotator cuff. If not properly cared for, surgery may be necessary.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is another very common reason for shoulder pain with lifting. The pain is caused by inflammation in the lining of the ball socket joint. The condition is often progressive with no known cause.

Physical therapy is an excellent remedy for patients with a frozen shoulder. The exercises focus on increasing range of motion and improved mobility, so you find relief and can get back to the daily grind of life.

How Can Physical Therapy Help My Shoulder Pain?

The goal of physical therapy for shoulder pain is mobility improvement, which often goes hand-in-hand with pain relief. The therapist will start with an assessment to measure strength, functional mobility, and your current range of motion.

When rotating your shoulder in a circular motion, you might feel a sharp pain. With rotator cuff tendonitis, the ball of the shoulder joint will move slightly upwards. This can pinch the tendons or bursa underneath, usually producing a pinching sensation. Exercises can help strengthen surrounding muscles while you learn how to move the arm for relief.

Where Can I Find Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Near Me?

If you are experiencing shoulder pain when lifting your arm, it is time to have an evaluation by a sports medicine doctor or physical therapist. Pinnacle Orthopaedics specializes in a range of injuries and ailments, including hip, spine, foot and ankle, hand and wrist, and of course, shoulder pain.

Physical Therapy is offered on-site at the following locations:

Our doctors not only treat the community, but we serve the community. They provide education and awareness to local schools and at sporting events.

If you have any additional questions about orthopaedic conditions or therapy, contact us.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health