Causes of Shoulder Weakness and Pain

Causes of Shoulder Weakness and Pain

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of all the joints in the human body. Its complexity is also its weakness, because the shoulder can become injured relatively easily.

Every time we make even the slightest motion with our arms, the shoulder is involved. And if you have arthritis, it can affect your shoulder as well as other joints.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you may experience shoulder pain and/or weakness, and what can be done about it.

Rotator Cuff Injury

This injury causes shoulder pain whenever you move your arm, reach, or even sleep. The injury may be a partial tear or a complete tear of a tendon in the shoulder.

The group of tendons and muscles that support the shoulder is called the rotator cuff. Rotator cuff injuries are one of the more common injuries to the shoulder.

The rotator cuff can suffer from tendonitis, tendonosis, strain, or a partial or complete tear of the tendon. This injury can also develop from repetitive stress on the shoulder. This injury can cause a stabbing, sharp pain or weakness in the shoulder whenever you move your arm in a certain way.

Shoulder pain when lying down is a standard indicator for a rotator cuff injury. The pressure of the arm being pulled flat causes the inflamed tendon to react, creating painful sensations from inside the joint.

Rotator cuff impingement occurs when irritation, inflammation, or compression of the bursae or tendons in the shoulder causes them to be pinched. This can happen due to overuse-type injury or traumatic injury.

Tear in the Glenoid Labrum

The glenoid labrum is a ring of cartilage in the shoulder that provides cushioning in the shoulder socket. This permits the ball of the shoulder to rotate freely.

The labrum performs two tasks. First, it supports the socket for the femoral head (the ball-shaped top of the femur, or upper arm bone). Second, it helps hold the structures of the shoulder together, giving it stability.

A single trauma, such as a dislocation of the shoulder, can cause the labrum to be torn completely or partially off the socket. There are varying severities of labrum tears; when it tears completely off the socket, the entire labrum must be surgically reattached.

Another type of labrum tear is damage to where the biceps tendon meets the labrum. Therefore, this type of injury usually involves a portion of the labrum as well as the tendon. 

Osteoarthritis

Often just called “arthritis,” osteoarthritis in the shoulder can cause a person to be unable to reach behind them due to excruciating pain if it is attempted. Whether you are trying to put on a belt or scratch your back, shoulder arthritis can be debilitating if it is not addressed by a physician. 

Shoulder Doctors in Colorado Springs

All of these causes of shoulder pain and weakness are quite common, and they have been treated successfully for decades. Conventional methods of physical therapy and pain-relief injections can work wonders, and surgery can alleviate the pain if the injury or arthritis is severe.

If you are in Colorado and are suffering from shoulder pain or another kind of musculoskeletal injury, contact our team today at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence. Call us at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online, and let us help you find relief from your shoulder pain.