10 Surprising Causes of Pain in the Left Shoulder

Your shoulders have a very wide range of motion and, should anything happen to them, the pain will hinder your ability to move around freely without discomfort. Made up of three main bones and two main joints, the shoulders are a hardy yet sensitive part of your body. Although many people who complain of problems in that area are over the age of 55, certain diseases and injuries may cause you pain even at a young age. Although there are plenty of home remedies that you can undertake to get rid of the pain once and for all, medical treatment is advisable for the more serious and severe cases.

Top Causes of Pain

There are dozens of things that can be attributed to the left shoulder hurting. From everyday injuries to diseases, here are some of the most common causes.

1. Sprains and Strains

Overexertion can cause it to sprain or strain. Common amongst athletes and manual laborers, this sort of injury can range from minor to severe pain. Depending on what happened, you may or may not have to seek medical attention. You are more at risk of a sprain if you have had a prior injury to the area, overexerted yourself, or did not properly stretch before and after working out.

2. Rotator Cuff Disease

The rotator cuff is a part of the shoulder that is made up of muscles and tendons. The rotator cuff’s purpose is to stabilize the shoulder. Rotator cuff disease is basically any form of damage to the rotator cuff. Whether it is an injury from a fall, inflammation, or signs of aging, rotator cuff disease can cause pain.

3. Frozen Shoulder

This commonly occurs in people over the age of 40. Having a frozen shoulder will limit your range of motion as the tissues in your joint become tight and thick. This causes scar tissue to build up over time, leading to a freeze as it does not have enough space to rotate properly. Regular physical therapy is the most common treatment.

4. Heart Attack

If an intense, squeezing pain that feels like heartburn is followed by pain in the left shoulder and upper back, it is a possibility you are experiencing a heart attack. Another symptom is a tingling sensation running up your left arm all the way up to your jaw. Immediately call an ambulance or get someone to drive you to the emergency room if this happens.

5. Slipped Disk

Although this problem is associated with the spine, it can cause your shoulder to ache. Your spine is made up of 26 vertebrae cushioned by disks. These disks are there to protect the vertebrae by absorbing stress and shock exerted onto them. Although the lower back is the most common area for a slipped disk to happen, the maze of nerves and vessels that surround your spine and its surrounding tissues can cause the pain to shoot up to your shoulder. Depending on how bad it is, treatment will vary from rest to surgery.

6. Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints in one or many parts of the body. There are multiple symptoms of arthritis, one of which is discomfort to the shoulder. Commonly seen amongst senior citizens, treatment options include medication, surgery, physical therapy or a combination of all three. These treatments will alleviate the tenderness in not just the shoulder, but on other joints.

7. Tendinitis

Tendinitis is when your tendons become inflamed. This will cause intense discomfort, making it tough to move the affected area. An inflamed tendon is not uncommon and may be a cause for the malady you are experiencing. Injury, disease and aging are the main causes of tendinitis. However, this problem can be treated by applying hot or cold compresses, resting or elevating the tendon, medication, or compressing it in a bandage until the swelling goes down. Your doctor will recommend the best course of action based on how severe the injury is. In some cases, surgery and physical therapy may be necessary.

8. Dislocation or Break

Dislocation happens when bones connected by a joint are separated. When left untreated, it will cause damage to your nerves, blood vessels and ligaments. Usually trauma is to blame for a dislocation. A bad fall, an accident or blunt force trauma are common causes. Because of the severe pain that comes right after, it is hard to tell if you broke or dislocated your shoulder. Either way, seek medical help immediately. An X-ray will be able to tell whether it is a dislocation or a break.

9. Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve happens when too much pressure is put on the nerve. It can be caused by repetitive movements or by holding your body in the same position for too long. Sleeping in one position for too long, lengthy plane rides and hours at your desk can cause this painful problem. Depending on the severity of the issue, treatments such as medication and physical therapy will help get rid of the throbbing.

10. Osteoarthritis

Commonly known as the “wear and tear” version of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bones at its joints wears out. Depending on where it hits first, it will decrease your range of motion in not just your shoulder, but around other parts of your body. This problem usually occurs in people over 40 or in those who are overweight.

How to Alleviate the Pain

Before you attempt to get rid of the pain, you have to figure out its source. In general, there are quite a number of things you can do from the comfort of your own home to alleviate the pain. Physical therapy exercises are simple and will not take up much time. Scour the web for simple yet effective videos and tutorials. You can also buy a sling or shoulder immobilizer. It will force your shoulder to rest and heal at its own pace. You can also buy over-the-counter medication such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Speak to you pharmacist for some of the more suitable options. For persistent pain, see a doctor right away as you may need to undergo surgery.

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