Top 10 Common Causes For Pain In Left Shoulder

The human body is a masterpiece of God. We take our bodies for granted in our day-to-day life and forget to marvel at its immense potential. Sometimes it does good to our soul to stop for a second and admire the science involved in the intricacies of our bodies. Take a moment out of the bustle and activities of your life. Sit in a quiet room and listen to your heart keeping you alive. Take deep breaths and feel them refresh you. Look at your hands and appreciate the innumerable tasks they do for you everyday. Admire the strength in your legs that carry you throughout your life. Thus, it is our duty to take utmost care of ourselves. The moment we realize that a part of us is not at its full capability, we need to take immediate steps to rectify it.

So if you ever feel a twinge or more in your left shoulder, this article will provide guidance on how to deal with it. Here is a list of the top ten causes of pain in the left shoulder:


10) Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a controversial disorder. A lot of doctors question the authenticity of this disease as there are no tests to prove its existence. Fibromyalgia is a long-lasting chronic condition where a person experiences pain in his/her muscles and bones throughout the body. However, this is subjective pain and the symptoms cannot be backed up by laboratory tests or imaging. Doctors were concerned that people might use this as an excuse to gain prescriptions of pain medications unethically. The shoulders often act as trigger points and can precipitate an episode of pain, fatigue headaches and trouble falling asleep. The preferred mode of treatment for this disease is lifestyle changes. Incorporating yoga and a healthy balanced diet, regular massages, physiotherapy and proper sleep schedules often have beneficial effects. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe painkillers.

9) Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff is a ring of four muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint that stabilize it and aid in movement. It is a very common site for shoulder injuries. A person presents with pain, tenderness and difficulty in performing certain motions like reaching overhead or reaching behind. Athletes and people over the age of 40 years are at an increased risk. It is often treated with hot or cold packs and over the counter medication.

8) Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition where there is a difficulty in shoulder movements. After a shoulder injury, if a person keeps their joint inactive for a long period of time there is a gradual thickening of the tissues around the joint. This limits the range of motion of the joint and eventually the shoulder becomes stiff. Hence the name frozen shoulder. Simple activities like dressing or reaching for objects also become difficult. Physiotherapy is recommended for people with shoulder injuries to avoid the development of this disorder. It can be corrected by medication or surgery.

7) Tendinitis

Tendon is the cord connecting the muscle to the bone. Inflammation of the tendon is called as tendinitis. Common causes are aging and injuries. Inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder joint is called as swimmer’s shoulder. A person experiences pain and occasionally swelling around the joint. Rest and ice are also helpful in this condition. Severe cases may require splints and surgeries.

6) Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH)

Subarachnoid space is the space between the brain and the tissues covering the brain. Hemorrhage is the term used for bleeding. Subarachnoid hemorrhage refers to bleeding into the subarachnoid space. It is often the result of head trauma. The most defining symptom of subarachnoid hemorrhage is an intense headache. It is also accompanied with neck pain, shoulder pain, numbness, seizures, nausea, vomiting, double vision and rapid loss of consciousness. High blood pressure and smoking increase the risks of  SAH. It is a medical emergency and urgent care may be required.

5) Slipped Disk

A disk is a piece of tissue present between two vertebrae in our spinal column. It is composed of an inner soft part and an outer tough part. The main function of these disks is to act as shock absorbers and protect our spine from twisting sudden jerks. A slipped disk occurs when a portion of the disk protrudes from the vertebrae and compresses the nerves around it.  It is also called as herniated disk. They occur due to lifting heavy weights or old age. When a disk in the neck region slips out of its place and compresses the nerves supplying to the left arm, shoulder pain is felt. Exercises, pain killers and surgeries are the different modalities of treatment. These should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to avoid permanent nerve damage.

4) Dislocation

Dislocation of the shoulder joint refers to the condition when the arm bone pops out of the shoulder joint. Unbalanced impacts can cause this. A person with a dislocated shoulder experiences excruciating pain, numbness and tingling sensations in his arm. It can damage the surrounding blood vessels and nerves. Thus, it ought to be treated as a medical emergency. Most often it can be manipulated back to it’s original position. Severe cases may require immobilization, rehabilitation or surgery.

3) Heart Attack

Heart attack, also called as Myocardial Infarction, is a leading cause of death in today’s world. The blood supply to the heart decreases and the heart muscle begins to die. This presents as severe chest pain radiating to the left shoulder and jaw. Other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue can also be seen. Certain risk factors are associated with the incidence of heart attacks. Old age, men, smokers, those with a family history, obese people and people with high cholesterol are at a higher risk. Heart attack is a medical emergency. Help should be sought for immediately.

2) Sprains and strains

These are injuries affecting joints and muscles. Sprains affect the joints. Accidents, collisions and falls are other common causes of sprains. They can be mild with little to no pain. They can also be severe resulting in an inability to lift the hand due to tearing of ligaments. Strains affect the muscles. These occur either due to repetitive motions or due to undue muscle stretch. The muscle can undergo varying degrees of tear. RICE therapy is used for the management of sprains and strains.





Resting the shoulder and application of ice helps in decreasing pain and swelling. Compression and elevation aid in quick healing.

1) Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is also called as the wear and tear disease. It is a leading cause of disability in old age. Cartilage is a tough protective tissue covering the ends of the bones at the joints. Due to wear and tear, there is a degeneration of the cartilage. So, bones start rubbing against one another at the joint.  It can affect any joint in the body. The person experiences pain, stiffness, swelling and a limited range of motion of the joint. Obesity, injuries to joints and jobs that involve a lot of joint activity increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Lifestyle modifications including exercise and loss of weight are vital in controlling symptoms. Refer to a doctor for further management of pain.

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Dr. Najeeha Ahmed

I am a doctor who is passionate about writing and reading. I devour fiction and fantasy is my favorite genre. I have been writing since I was in high school. One of my essays about democracy was published by Scholastic India in 2010.

"And by the way everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt." - Sylvia Plath

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