Chronic shoulder pain and its primary causes

Shoulder pain is a common complaint that can impact daily life, hindering simple tasks like reaching for an object or lifting a bag. While acute shoulder pain often resolves with rest and conservative treatment, chronic shoulder pain persists for weeks, months or even longer. Understanding the primary causes of chronic shoulder pain is crucial for effective management and relief. Learn more about this from the orthopedic doctors of a super speciality hospital in Thakurpukur.

The Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is a joint comprised of several bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments working together to provide a wide range of motion. This complexity also makes the shoulder vulnerable to injury and pain. The primary bones involved in shoulder movement are the upper arm bone, scapula and clavicle (collarbone).

Common Causes of Chronic Shoulder Pain

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff refers to a group of muscles and tendons that surround one’s shoulder joint, offering stability and facilitating movement. Injuries to the rotator cuff, like tears or inflammation, are common causes of chronic shoulder pain. Repetitive overhead motions, lifting heavy objects or sudden trauma can lead to rotator cuff injuries.
  2. Frozen Shoulder: It is characterized by stiffness and pain in the joint, making it hard to move the arm. The main cause is not always clear, but it usually occurs following prolonged immobility, injury or certain medical conditions such as diabetes.
  3. Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. It happens due to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. While osteoarthritis commonly affects weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips, it can affect the shoulder joint, leading to chronic pain, stiffness and reduced range of motion, states an orthopedic doctor of a private hospital in South Kolkata.
  4. Tendinitis and Bursitis: Tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendons, while bursitis is inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion the joints. Both conditions can cause chronic shoulder pain, often as a result of repetitive motions or injury.
  5. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome: It happens when the tendons of the rotator cuff become pinched between the bones of the shoulder, particularly during overhead activities. This can result in chronic inflammation, pain and weakness in the shoulder.

Treatment Options

  1. Surgery: In severe cases or when other treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be necessary. Procedures like rotator cuff repair, shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement surgery may be performed to address underlying structural issues and alleviate chronic pain, as per the top orthopedic doctors in South Kolkata.
  2. Physical Therapy: It plays a vital role in the treatment of chronic shoulder pain. A physiotherapist can prescribe certain exercises to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint, enhance flexibility and correct any underlying biomechanical issues contributing to the pain.
  3. Rest and Activity Modification: In many cases, resting the shoulder and avoiding activities that exaggerate the pain can help alleviate symptoms. However, complete immobility should be avoided, as gentle movement and exercises prescribed by a doctor are often beneficial for maintaining flexibility and strength.


Chronic shoulder pain can significantly impact quality of life, but understanding its primary causes is essential for effective management and treatment. Whether due to rotator cuff injuries, frozen shoulder, osteoarthritis, tendinitis or shoulder impingement syndrome, seeking timely medical evaluation from the orthopedic doctors of a super specialist hospital in Thakurpukur and implementing