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Shoulder Muscle Pain

There are a large number of muscles around the shoulder and pain can be felt in any of them, but in most cases will not be coming from the muscles themselves, although trigger points in the muscles are proposed as a source of true muscle pain.

Trigger points are said to be over contracted areas of the muscle which then refers pain in specific and repeatable fashion for the particular muscle it is found in. Physiotherapists use trigger point techniques to stretch, strengthen and reeducate muscles which may be suffering from this kind of problem.

Further information on shoulder pain is available at NHS Choices and Arthritis Research UK.

Shoulder pain can come from a variety of sources and one of the most common is neck pain, coming from the joints and other structures in the cervical spine, radiating pain across the shoulder and in some cases down the arm. Upper back pain may also be an extension of neck pain. Injuries and postural stresses held over long periods may cause changes in the neck structures, giving pain from one side of the spine, leading to right shoulder pain or left shoulder pain. The changes are rarely exactly symmetrical so pain does tend to be on one side or another.

Musculoskeletal problems are the most common causes of shoulder pain, cancer can show up as shoulder and arm pain but this is very uncommon and there are usually other symptoms which would make a doctor worry about the diagnosis.

A shoulder pain trapped nerve problem can be very severe due to a disc protrusion of one of the neck discs which then presses on one of the exiting nerves from the neck. Known as a nerve root compression, the pain may be very severe, limiting the person's activity badly and preventing sleep or rest. This usually settles more quickly than the equivalent sciatica in the leg and rarely needs a nerve block injection or operation.

Frozen shoulder pain relief is often the primary goal of anyone who has an acute frozen shoulder. The cause of frozen shoulder is not known but typically occurs in middle aged persons after a minor injury or jar, gradually building up until sleep is badly disrupted and the arm can hardly move at all. It may take up to two years for the pain to settle and the stiffness to abate and people may not get back the full movement in their shoulder ever again.

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