What does shoulder pain mean?

If a patient with shoulder pain does not have an obvious shoulder injury to report, there are essentially two possibilities:

Either the problem is still in the shoulder. Then the place where the pain is mainly felt and the movements that trigger it can give further clues. By far the most common causes of (chronic) shoulder pain are problems with the so-called rotator cuff. Pain in the front and sides of the shoulder, which increases when you raise your arm and lie on the affected shoulder (night pain), are possible indications. Or: Pain that can be localized at the outer end of the collarbone is an indication of damage to the shoulder joint.

Shoulder pain plagues many people. The basic pattern: chronic overload and muscle imbalances. “Overhead workers”, such as painters, or “overhead athletes”, such as handball, volleyball and tennis players, are particularly affected.

Overloading the movement system creates roughness, fraying and sometimes spurs at critical points. Bottleneck syndrome (impingement) can develop. This means: A shoulder that is no longer able to slide smoothly internally is exposed to constant irritation. Then it won’t be long before there is possibly greater damage in addition to pain (or vice versa).

This mainly affects the so-called soft tissues such as tendons and bursa around the main joint of the shoulder and under the acromion. Specifically, it is about tears and adhesions, shrinkage of the joint capsule, possibly a frozen shoulder.

Joint wear and tear resulting in arthrosis occurs less frequently in the shoulder than, for example, in the knee or hip joint. Sometimes it hits the joint on the sternum, more likely the corner joint on the outer end of the collarbone: arthrosis can develop here as a result of injuries such as a shoulder joint rupture or rheumatism.

If the head of the humerus is damaged, for example by a defective rotator cuff, arthrosis (omarthrosis) is also possible in the main shoulder joint over time.


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