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Left Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is very common and has many potential causes with shoulder pain and neck pain often being closely related along with arm and shoulder pain. Further information on shoulder pain is available at NHS Choices and Arthritis Research UK.


The Cause of Shoulder Pain

People often describe a large region of one side of the upper body when they talk about what they see as shoulder pain. Shoulder related pain can include the lower part of the neck, across the upper trapezius, shoulder blade pain, thoracic pain, pain over the shoulder itself and pain running down the arm.

The potential causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Impingement syndrome – the arm bone sweeps against the under surface of the shoulder blade immediately above it and this area can develop inflammation. Bursitis, where one of the small lubricating sacs gets inflamed, may contribute to this.

  • Rotator cuff tears, common especially as we get older and not always causing pain. The saying “Grey hair equals cuff tear” indicates which age group is most prone to this.

  • Acromioclavicular joint pain – the small stabilising joint above the shoulder joint can be aggravated in a fall for example in skiing or falling off a bike.

  • Instability and tears of the labrum, the cartilage rim which surrounds and deepens the shoulder socket.

  • Neck pain, which often occurs along with upper back pain, shoulder blade pain and across the top of the shoulder into the arm. In shoulder pain, trapped nerve problems can occur and give severe problems with shoulder and arm pain.

  • Shoulder muscle pain is also thought to occur directly and trigger points treatments are popular for the muscles surrounding the neck and shoulder. Whether the muscle is a specific source of pain is however not entirely clear.

  • Frozen shoulder is a very painful condition which may occur after a trivial injury and take up to two years to settle. Frozen shoulder pain relief may be obtained in some cases from steroid injection, manipulation or a shoulder operation.

Left shoulder pain may occur less commonly than right shoulder pain as fewer people are left handed and so use their right shoulder much more vigorously, looking over to the left repetitively as they perform activities. This may bring on changes in the tissues of the shoulder and the left sided neck joints which can give symptoms. While there are other potential causes of shoulder pain, cancer is very uncommon.

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