Shoulder pain is a common and often debilitating medical issue that affects about 18-26% of adults [1]. Its intensity may vary from a sharp, stabbing sensation to a dull, persistent ache, which can severely limit your range of motion and daily activities.

The four shoulder joints provide crucial functionality for tasks as simple as reaching for an object on a high shelf or as complex as participating in sports or lifting a heavy load. Consequently, untreated shoulder pain can have a significant negative impact on quality of life.

What is Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain [2] refers to discomfort or distress localized in the shoulder region, which includes the upper arms, the shoulder joints, and the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The symptoms may range from mild to severe and can be either short-term and acute, or chronic, meaning they slowly build up over time.

This pain can significantly impact your ability to perform daily activities, from basic movements like lifting and reaching to more complex tasks like playing sports or even working at the computer. It’s essential to identify the root cause of your pain accurately, as shoulder pain treatment options vary depending on the underlying issue.

Effective management may involve rest, physical therapy, medication, or in more serious cases, surgical intervention. All of these shoulder pain treatment methods aim to alleviate discomfort and restore function and range of motion.

How Does the Shoulder Typically Work?

The shoulder joints are both flexible and complex [3], and they allow for a wide range of upper-body movements. There are three major bones that make up the joints of the shoulder girdle, including the collarbone (clavicle), shoulder blade (scapula), and upper arm bone (humerus). The joints that connect the upper arm to the shoulder blade are called glenohumeral [4] and they allow for a wide range of movement.

There’s also an important link between the breast bone (sternum) and the clavicle (sternoclavicular), as we use them to shrug our shoulders or cross our arms. The bone on top of the shoulder, the acromion, is connected to the collarbone through the acromioclavicular joint. It helps stabilize the shoulder and allows for movements like raising your arms above your head.

The group of muscles and tendons called the rotator cuff keep the shoulders in place and allow for a variety of movements. They also form capsules around the joints, which contain fluid to lubricate and keep the cartilage healthy. The shoulder’s intricate design gives us the mobility and stability to perform a wide range of tasks.

What are the causes of Shoulder Pain?

There are multiple potential causes of shoulder pain [2], including injury or an underlying disorder. It is critical to understand the underlying reasons behind the discomfort to effectively achieve pain relief. These are some of the primary causes:

  • Trauma and Injury: Acute injuries like fractures, tears, dislocations, and sprains can lead to sudden shoulder pain. Overuse and strain from activities that involve repetitive arm movements like sports or frequent lifting may increase the risk of injury. People who engage in these activities that are typical causes of shoulder pain are at a higher risk.
  • Rotator Cuff Disorders: These conditions are causes of shoulder pain that can compromise the stability and movement of the joint. Over time, wear and tear or degeneration can lead to a disorder of the rotator cuff such as tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons), bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled space), or impingement (pain that develops when the tip of the shoulder blade rubs against the tendons and bursa).
  • Frozen Shoulder: This is a chronic condition characterized by pain and stiffness in the glenohumeral joint, and it can severely limit shoulder movement. People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing frozen shoulder.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a general term for a number of conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation. The main types of arthritis that affect the shoulder joints are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and aging is a significant risk factor.
  • Heart or Lung Conditions: Shoulder pain may sometimes occur due to a heart or lung issue in individuals with cardiovascular disease or respiratory problems.

  • Lifestyle Factors: Smoking and obesity can contribute to the development of shoulder problems and prevent proper healing. These factors significantly increase the risk of developing conditions like tendonitis and impingement.

What Are the Symptoms Associated With Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain can manifest in a variety of ways, and the specific symptoms [5] depend on the underlying cause. These are the primary effects associated with having a shoulder condition:

  • Pain: The hallmark symptom is pain localized in the shoulder region, which may range from a dull, persistent ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation. The intensity of the pain may vary depending on the cause and can be aggravated by certain movements or activities.
  • Stiffness: People with shoulder pain often report stiffness in the joints, making it difficult to move their arms freely. This reduced range of motion can affect daily activities like reaching, lifting, and dressing.
  • Weakness: Muscular weakness in the affected shoulder is a common symptom. This makes it challenging to perform tasks that require strength, such as lifting objects or carrying loads.
  • Radiating Pain: In some cases, shoulder pain can radiate down the arm or into the neck. This referred pain may indicate nerve involvement or compression in the shoulder or neck region. In more serious cases, it could be caused by a cardiac issue like a heart attack.
  • Swelling and Inflammation: Inflammatory conditions like bursitis or tendonitis can lead to localized swelling, redness, and warmth around the shoulder joints.
  • Clicking or Popping Sensation: Some individuals may hear clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving their shoulders. These noises may indicate issues like rotator cuff tears or joint instability.
  • Night Pain: Shoulder pain at night tends to be worse than during the day, especially if you lie on the affected side. This is a characteristic symptom of certain shoulder conditions, such as rotator cuff injuries and frozen shoulder.
  • Numbness or Tingling: If your shoulder pain is due to nerve compression, you may experience numbness, tingling, or a “pins and needles” sensation in your arms or hands. This is also one of the symptoms of diabetes, so if you experience it be sure to see your physician to get checked.
  • Fatigue: Chronic shoulder pain can lead to general fatigue and discomfort, which may negatively impact quality of life and sleep patterns.

  • Difficulty with Daily Activities: Shoulder pain can make routine activities like combing your hair, getting dressed, or reaching for an object challenging, and this can affect your independence and daily functioning.

What Are Shoulder Pain Exercises?

There are a variety of shoulder pain exercises [6] that can help strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joints, improve flexibility, and alleviate discomfort.

It’s important to note that whether these shoulder pain exercises are suitable for you depends on the underlying cause of your pain, and we recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist before starting any new exercise regimen.

1. Pendulum Exercise

  • Stand next to a table or chair and hold it with your good arm for support.
  • Let the arm with the painful shoulder hang freely.
  • Gently swing the arm in pain forward and backward, and then side to side in a pendulum-like motion.
  • Start with minimal movements, and then gradually increase your range of motion.
  • Do this exercise for 1-2 minutes several times a day to improve shoulder mobility, reduce stiffness, and experience shoulder pain relief.

2. Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  • This exercise strengthens the muscles in the upper back and helps improve posture.
  • Sit or stand with your back straight.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you’re trying to hold a pencil between them.
  • Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, then relax.
  • Do 10-15 repetitions.

3. Rotator Cuff Strengthening with Resistance Band

  • This is one of the shoulder pain exercises that targets the rotator cuff muscles, promoting stability and strength in the shoulder joint.
  • Secure a resistance band to a sturdy anchor at waist level.
  • Stand with your side to the anchor and hold the band with your arm in pain.
  • Keep your elbow at a 90-degree angle and close to your side.
  • Slowly rotate your forearm outward, against the resistance of the band.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions each.

4. Scapular Wall Slides

  • This exercise helps improve scapular stability and shoulder mobility to provide shoulder pain relief.
  • Stand with your back against a wall and keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your arms against the wall with your elbows at a 90-degree angle and your palms facing forward.
  • Slowly slide your arms upward, keeping your elbows and wrists in contact with the wall.
  • As you raise your arms, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then slide your arms back down.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

What Are the Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some of the most common treatment approaches:

  • Rest and Activity Modification: Giving the shoulder adequate rest and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain is often the first step recommended in shoulder pain treatment. This can help prevent further injury or irritation.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a tailored exercise program to strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and correct posture. They may also use modalities like heat, ice, or ultrasound to alleviate pain and inflammation.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications or corticosteroid injections for severe symptoms. In addition, according to the FlexoPlex review feedback, taking a powerful supplement like FlexoPlex can help reduce joint pain and swelling and restore flexibility and mobility.
  • RICE Therapy: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation can be effective for acute shoulder injuries or inflammation. Applying ice and using a compression bandage can reduce swelling and pain and provide considerable shoulder pain relief.
  • Shoulder Brace or Support: Depending on the condition, wearing a shoulder brace or support may provide stability and relieve pain.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In cases of significant inflammation or bursitis, a healthcare provider may recommend that you get a corticosteroid injection directly into your shoulder joint to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

  • Surgery: Surgical intervention may be necessary for severe shoulder injuries, persistent pain, or conditions like rotator cuff tears, labral tears, or shoulder instability. This could involve a number of procedures, from minimally invasive arthroscopy to traditional open surgery.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Adjusting daily activities to reduce the strain on your shoulders is crucial in long-term pain management. Examples include improving your posture, using ergonomic equipment, or changing work habits. In addition, following a healthy diet high in calcium and vitamin D-rich foods [7] can help strengthen the bones and reduce shoulder pain.
Prevent Shoulder Pain

How can I Prevent Shoulder Pain?

The best way to prevent shoulder pain is to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and practices that promote joint health and reduce your risk of injury.

  • Maintain Good Posture: Be mindful of the way you sit and stand, as maintaining proper posture can significantly reduce the strain on your shoulders.
  • Do Strength Exercises: Do strength and flexibility shoulder pain exercises on a regular basis to keep your muscles and joints strong and mobile. Focus on moves that target the shoulders, neck, and upper back.
  • Warm Up and Stretch: Prior to engaging in any physical activity, warm up your shoulder muscles with gentle stretches. Stretching helps improve flexibility and preventinjuriesy.
  • Use Proper Lifting Techniques: If you have to lift a heavy object, bend your knees and use your legs to lift instead of your back or shoulders. Keep the object close to your body to minimize strain.
  • Avoid Overuse: If you have a physically demanding job or participate in sports, make sure you are not overusing the shoulder muscles. Take regular breaks, vary your activities, and avoid repetitive movements when possible.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese can put additional stress on your shoulder joints. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help reduce this strain.
  • Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is critical for joint health, as it helps keep the shoulder joints lubricated to prevent stiffness.
  • Stay Active: Regular physical exercise can improve overall joint health. Activities like swimming, yoga, and tai chi can be especially beneficial for shoulder mobility and strength.
  • Seek Early Treatment: If you experience any shoulder discomfort or notice changes in your mobility, seek prompt shoulder pain treatment from a physician. Early intervention can prevent minor issues from becoming chronic problems.

Frequently asked questions

Can shoulder pain cause headaches?

Shoulder pain can sometimes lead to headaches, particularly if the pain is related to muscle tension or poor posture. When the neck and shoulder muscles become tight or strained, it can potentially trigger a tension headache, which feels like a band squeezing around your head.

Poor posture may also cause headaches, and this is particularly likely to occur in people who sit slouched over a computer or phone for extended periods. This activity strains the neck and shoulder muscles and may make you more prone to headaches.

A pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder may lead to radiating pain that includes a headache. In addition, stress can cause muscle knots or trigger points to develop in the shoulders and neck, potentially causing headaches along with pain in those areas.

Which shoulder pain symptom may be a sign of a heart attack?

Shoulder pain may occur along with a heart attack, but it is typically not the primary or sole symptom. Instead, it often occurs in conjunction with other more classic heart attack indicators.

  • Chest Pain or Discomfort: This is the most prevalent heart attack symptom and it’s often described as a squeezing, pressure-like sensation in the chest. It can radiate to the shoulders, neck, jaw, or down the left arm.
  • Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing or sudden shortness of breath may accompany chest discomfort.
  • Nausea or Vomiting: Some individuals experience nausea or vomiting while having a heart attack.
  • Cold Sweat: Profuse sweating, often accompanied by a clammy or cold feeling, often occurs along with other heart attack symptoms.
  • Lightheadedness or Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded or dizzy can occur as a result of reduced blood flow to the brain.
  • Pain in the Jaw, Neck, or Shoulder: Pain, pressure, or discomfort in the shoulder or neck area, especially the left side, can be associated with a heart attack. This is particularly true in women.

Why is shoulder pain worse at night?

There are several reasons why shoulder pain at night can often be worse than during the day:

  • Changes in Posture: When you’re lying down, especially on your side, your shoulder position may increase the pressure on structures like the rotator cuff or bursa, possibly exacerbating shoulder pain at night.
  • Inactivity: During the day you’re likely distracted by activities, work, or movement which can temporarily reduce your focus on your shoulder discomfort. At night when you're trying to sleep and are less distracted, you may become more aware of the pain.
  • Blood Flow: The circulation to the shoulder can decrease when you're lying still, potentially worsening inflammation and pain in the area.
  • Fluid Accumulation: Fluid may accumulate around the injured or inflamed areas in the shoulder overnight, causing increased pressure and shoulder pain.
  • Muscle Tension: Your muscles can tense up when you lie in the same position for an extended period of time, aggravating any muscle-related shoulder pain.
  • Stress and Tension: Increased stress and tension can lead to muscle stiffness and exacerbate shoulder pain at night, especially as stress levels are often higher then.
  • Circadian Rhythms: Some studies suggest that your circadian rhythm influences your perception of pain, making it seem worse at night.

Does shoulder pain go away?

Whether your shoulder pain goes away will depend on the underlying cause, severity, and treatment. In many cases, the pain does improve or disappear with appropriate care. If you experience this symptom, it’s essential that you consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your specific condition.

Ignoring or neglecting shoulder pain can lead to complications or chronic issues. Timely intervention, rest, physical therapy, and lifestyle adjustments are often key components of managing and alleviating the discomfort. In cases where common treatments are not effective, you may want to discuss the option of surgery with your doctor or medical team.


Shoulder pain is a common symptom for a number of conditions, and if serious enough, it can have a significant impact on your mobility and day-to-day functioning. Whether your pain is due to an injury, overuse, or an underlying medical issue, it requires attention and appropriate care.

The key to effectively addressing the pain lies in early diagnosis, tailored treatment, and consistent rehabilitation efforts. By combining rest, physical therapy, medication, and in some cases surgical intervention, it is possible to experience shoulder pain relief and regain mobility.

You can help decrease your risk of developing shoulder pain by making lifestyle choices like following a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, exercising regularly, correcting your posture, and taking a powerful bioactive supplement. The Flexoplex review posts online indicate that most customers experienced powerful pain reduction benefits and improved flexibility and mobility with this supplement.

Now that you understand how the shoulder works, the possible causes of your pain, and the treatment options, we hope it will empower you to take control of your shoulder health for a pain-free, active life.