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Last updated: Oct 18, 2021

Shoulder Pain

Simple movements like turning the wrong way or throwing a ball can result in troubling shoulder pain. It may just be a muscle strain, but you may have done severe damage to one of your shoulder’s soft tissues. Another possibility is an underlying medical condition like arthritis. Visit one of Redefine Healthcare’s shoulder specialists (we have six convenient locations in New Jersey) for a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment for your shoulder pain.

Rotator Cuff TearYou’ve just finished helping your best friend move into their new place and now experiencing severe shoulder pain. Someone just rear-ended you at the stoplight, and your seat belt is now causing pain in your left shoulder. That last golf shot triggered noticeable right shoulder pain, and you’re worried about maintaining your handicap.

All of these incidences, and more, can contribute to your need for shoulder pain treatment. Redefine Healthcare’s pain management doctor in NJ works hard to treat the root cause of your shoulder pain so you can return to doing what you love. Pinpointing whether your shoulder pain comes from a muscle or ligament injury or involves the shoulder joint lets your shoulder pain doctor determine the best treatment possible for you.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is one of the body’s most commonly used joints. As a result, shoulder pain is prone to various problems and medical conditions that cause swelling, difficulty moving the shoulder in different directions, decreased motility, etc. Shoulder pain occurs when the shoulder joint or the tissues around it get irritated.

Although shoulder pain can result from arthritis or even a heart condition as you age, it’s usually caused by an injury or strain when you’re younger. Some of the conditions our physicals will check for include injuries because of:

Arthritis in the Shoulder

Arthritis has many forms, and they can all affect the shoulder joint. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is an autoimmune disorder caused by the immune system attacking the synovium. When this occurs in the shoulder joint, the inflammation restricts joint movement and creates pain when you move the joint.

Osteoarthritis develops with age as the cartilage in the joint wears away from usage. When you move the joint, this type of arthritis causes inflammation and pain and can also cause shoulder pain. Unfortunately, neither type of arthritis has a cure.

Injury and trauma

Muscles, tendons, and ligaments surround the shoulder joint and allow the arm to move. When these tissues are damaged due to traumatic events, it might result in shoulder pain. Torn muscles and tendons, for example, can result from a traumatic impact around the shoulder. Aside from this direct injury, the tissues around the joint might become inflamed, resulting in shoulder pain.


Even though the major function of the shoulder joint is to move and support activity, overuse can result in shoulder pain. This problem is common in athletes, like javelin throwers, who perform activities involving the shoulder. People who do manual labor may overuse their shoulders, resulting in Nerve impingement and shoulder pain.

When the muscles contract and relax repeatedly, they rub against the tendons and ligaments, causing inflammation. There can be two causes of shoulder pain from overuse – tendinitis and bursitis. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes swollen due to overuse, whereas bursitis develops when the bursa becomes inflamed.

Because they affect the rotator cuff, these problems are known as rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis.


Shoulder instability is a situation in which the shoulder joint does not move as it should. In the worst-case scenario, the humerus ball pops out of the shoulder blade socket, resulting in a total dislocation of the joint. More often, there is only some difficulty or hindrance in the joint’s movement. Instability usually results from trauma that knocks the joint out of place, but it can also occur gradually and naturally. Either way, it causes shoulder pain that requires medical attention.


The shoulder area that is kept still for an extended period, such as after surgery, a severe injury, or a stroke, can become stiff and painful, resulting in a condition known as frozen shoulder. Inflamed muscles and tendons, as in bursitis or tendonitis, can also contribute to the development of this condition. The resulting disability can be severe, and the symptoms tend to worsen with time if not treated.


Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa that leads to shoulder pain, swelling, redness, and a thickening of the affected bursa. Bursa is a fluid-filled sac that surrounds every joint in the human body. Tendons, muscles, and skin surround it. Bursa helps lubricate the joint and reduce friction when you move it. Shoulder bursitis typically occurs due to recurrent damage to the shoulder joint or overuse of this joint.

Because your shoulder joint involves bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles that allow such a wide range of motion, determining the exact cause of your shoulder pain requires experience and detective work. Activities as simple as scratching your back or tossing a ball in the yard can inflame or impinge soft tissue.

Athletes are highly susceptible to rotator cuff injury because repetitive motions promote joint wear and tear. Visit our clinic and meet one of our NJ shoulder pain doctors if you have pain due to a rotator cuff injury. We can help.

Despite the source of your shoulder pain, you should get medical attention at one of our nearby clinics. In many cases, you will need only conservative treatment, which requires applying warm or cold packs, taking over-the-counter painkillers, and prescribed painkillers in cases of severe pain, giving your shoulder the needed time to rest and recover. However, in severe cases, specialized treatment, including surgical treatment, may be required.

Symptoms of Shoulder Pain

Whether you have shoulder or shoulder blade pain, our NJ pain management clinic needs to know more about your symptoms, including when they began, what aggravates, and what relieves them.

Some common symptoms of shoulder blade pain include:

  • A dull, achy feeling that gets worse with specific movements
  • A tingling, pins-and-needles feeling, sometimes accompanied by numbness and weakness that can affect both shoulders
  • Grinding, snapping, grating sensations, accompanying dull pain when you move your shoulder
  • An achy feeling between your shoulder blades, especially after being in one position for a long time
  • Sudden, sharp, and severe pain after a fall, accident, or blow
  • Noticeable arm weakness, especially after repetitive motions
  • Occasionally dull, aching pain, accompanied by a small, pea-sized lump in the muscle that’s tender and painful to the touch

If you have sharp pain after an injury, or nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, or unexplained weight loss accompany your pain, see your Redefine Healthcare shoulder doctor right away since these could be signs of referred shoulder pain. Referred pain usually indicates a serious underlying medical condition.

Getting Treatment for Your Shoulder Pain

Following an evaluation of your symptoms and a discussion of your medical history, your local shoulder pain specialist may order imaging tests such as x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, as well as electrical testing to evaluate your nerves and muscle response. Rarely, exploratory surgery using arthroscopy is required to determine the root cause of your shoulder pain. A diagnosis has to precede shoulder joint pain treatment or shoulder muscle pain treatment.

Conservative shoulder pain treatment usually works well. Your shoulder pain specialist prescribes rest and activity restriction for a set period. The reduced activity allows inflamed muscles, tendons, and ligaments to heal. Pay close attention to which activities aggravate your shoulder pain; reducing these activities also lets your shoulder recover.

Along with activity restrictions, our shoulder injury doctors may prescribe heat, ice, physical therapy, and accompanying strength and flexibility exercises, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers. Prescription medication, such as painkillers or muscle relaxants, may help if your pain is severe or not relieved by these methods. Your doctor also offers steroid injections to combat inflammation and reduce pain.

How Is Shoulder Dislocation Treated?

If you suspect you have a shoulder dislocation, you should seek immediate medical help. Typically, you will be in extreme pain and unable to move your shoulder, requiring professional medical help. Make sure to keep your shoulder steady and immobilized as much as possible until you visit your nearby shoulder pain specialist.

The reduction is required to restore the dislocated humerus to its place in the bone socket. Shoulder reduction should be performed as quickly as possible by a trained medical professional or our shoulder doctor to avoid further damage to the shoulder and surrounding structures. An X-ray of the damaged shoulder is necessary to diagnose any possible fractures. In some situations, the reduction process is quite unpleasant for the patient, necessitating general anesthesia. A surgical reduction is also an option, especially for young people who are physically active as well. Repeated shoulder dislocations are common.

Immobilization of the injured shoulder is needed immediately after shoulder reduction. You will probably need to immobilize your shoulder for the next 5 or 7 days. In cases of any fractures, the immobilization time usually is longer.

We recommend over-the-counter painkillers and stronger prescribed painkillers as shoulder dislocation is typically extremely painful.

Surgery is the last treatment option when conservative treatment has failed to treat the shoulder dislocation accompanied by a fracture of the bones or damage to the surrounding tissues like ligaments, tendons, nerves, or blood vessels as in cases of repeated shoulder dislocations. The goal of the surgical treatment is to stabilize the shoulder joint as much as possible and repair any damaged structures of the joint.

Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Pain

If you have recurring dislocations or rotator cuff injuries, your doctor may suggest surgical options. Often done arthroscopically, surgery repairs tendon tears remove bone spurs, or reduces impinging scar tissue. Rarely, larger reconstructions or shoulder joint replacement requires open surgical procedures.


How to Get Rid of Shoulder Pain?

If you experience dull or aching pain in your shoulder, our doctors recommend the following ways to relieve your symptoms at home:

  • Rest and gentle range-of-motion exercises are essential to reduce pain and keep the muscles strong and flexible. Stretches you can try include pendulum and across-the-chest stretch.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help ease painful inflammation in the affected shoulder.
  • Heat and cold therapy can help relieve pain and swelling by promoting blood flow to your bad shoulder.
  • Correct your posture by keeping your shoulder blades back and together when sitting or standing.

Our physicians and physical therapists can advise on an appropriate exercise plan and which medications to use for your specific symptoms. Schedule an in-person consultation today and become one step closer to living a completely pain-free life.

How to Sleep With Shoulder Pain?

Maintain proper sleeping posture by sleeping on your back and avoiding placing stress on your shoulders. You can also try sleeping on your non-affected side with a pillow tucked deep in your underarm to keep your shoulder joint in the correct position.

How Do I Know if My Shoulder Pain Is Serious?

If you can’t move your shoulder or experience persistent bruising, heat, or tenderness around the joint, seek urgent medical help. We also recommend seeing a doctor if you’re experiencing extreme pain that doesn’t subside within a few weeks of home treatment. If you have sudden and severe shoulder pain without injury, call 911 right away.

How Long Does Shoulder Pain Last?

Depending on the severity of the underlying condition, your shoulder pain can take weeks, months, or even years to heal. In certain cases, the symptoms will subside on their own. Consult a doctor if the pain persists despite rest and medication.

Why Do I Experience Shoulder Pain When Lifting My Arm?

A common known cause of shoulder pain when the arm is lifted away from the body is shoulder impingement. It occurs when the shoulder’s tendons catch or rub on neighboring bone and tissues, resulting in weakness, mobility limitations, and severe pain.

How Is Shoulder Pain Diagnosed?

Before developing a customized plan to relieve your symptoms and facilitate rehabilitation, your local shoulder pain specialist will perform a physical examination and discuss your medical history. Additionally, your doctor will do a range of motion tests to assess your shoulder’s strength and resilience. To determine a precise diagnosis, a doctor will use detailed pictures of your shoulder obtained through diagnostic tests, like x-ray studies, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound.

How to Prevent Shoulder Pain?

Our physicians recommend starting a shoulder strength and flexibility program to help prevent injury. Consult our physical therapist to learn about the program specifics. We also advise staying cognizant of your posture throughout the day, both during activity and at rest, to avoid placing unnecessary stress on the shoulder through misalignment of the bones and soft tissues.

Learn More About Our Shoulder Doctors in New Jersey

Our physicians at Redefine Healthcare are tier one, spine, joint, and pain specialists serving the residents of Union, Paterson, Edison, West Caldwell, Teaneck, Old Bridge, And Bayonne, NJ. We specialize in non-surgical and interventional procedures to provide you with natural relief without the risks and downtime associated with surgical treatment.

We recommend that you make an appointment using our convenient online scheduling system
to ensure that the office schedule runs as smoothly as possible for all of our patients. You can also contact us by calling 732-906-9600.

Our staff will do everything possible to get you a same-day appointment. We will make every effort to see patients who require urgent attention.

Redefine Healthcare’s pain management specialist focuses on symptom relief while treating the underlying cause. Most people benefit from conservative shoulder pain treatments. Still, your doctor is well-versed in non-invasive treatments and surgical procedures to give you the best results possible and get you back to the work and play you enjoy most.

Contact Redefine Healthcare’s best NJ pain management doctors and shoulder experts at the first sign of shoulder pain to increase your chances of a quick recovery.


This page was published on Oct 9, 2019, modified on Oct 18, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a "top pain management doctor in New Jersey" and one of "America’s Top Physicians" for advanced sports injury treatments.

Learns more about Dr. Freeman | Dr. Freeman's Scholar

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