Why Do I Have Shoulder Pain When Lifting My Arm?

Why Do I Have Shoulder Pain When Lifting My Arm? hover background

Jan 07

We can all agree that shoulder pain when lifting the arm is very uncomfortable and annoying. We all have sometimes experienced shoulder pain in our lives. Sometimes we know the cause, such as injuries or chronic diseases but sometimes we don’t.

In order for us to better understand the cause of the pain, it’s important to know the basic anatomy of the shoulder.

Shoulder Pain When Lifting The Arm: The Anatomy

The shoulder is a joint composed of bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. The tendons are the tissue that connect the muscles to the bones. They help the muscles to move the shoulder. The role of ligaments is to hold the bones together and thus contribute to the stability of the joint. The shoulder is made up of three bones:

  1. the scapula (also known as the shoulder blade )
  2. the upper arm (humerus)
  3. and the collarbone (clavicle)

The entire shoulder joint is surrounded by a joint capsule filled with fluid that lubricates the joint and makes it work.

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body and as such is the most vulnerable to injury.

One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is tendonitis; it affects the tendons and muscles that help move your shoulder joint.

Excessive activity or repeated movements are the most common risk factors leading to tendonitis.

Athletes (swimming, tennis) are often exposed to the problem, and sometimes the causes lie in the abnormalities in the bones, ie. the shoulder joint. The problem occurs most often in middle-aged people.

[Learn more: Activities To Avoid To Prevent Shoulder Pain]

Shoulder pain is a major symptom and at first, it is most common when lifting the arm above shoulder level. The patient usually does not report anything at this stage because the expectation is that the condition will go away on its own. 

If left untreated, the pain can spread down the arm all the way to the fist or neck. Over time, a chronic condition can occur in which the pain is more constant, and intensifies with activity.

If the condition is not too advanced and does not require surgical treatment, physical therapy is the best choice. Physical therapy is an important part of treating a sore shoulder. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and restore normal shoulder function.

Even if this condition sometimes looks not so serious, if left untreated it can lead to permanent damage to the tendons.

Now that you know more about shoulder pain when lifting the arm…

…if you are ready to enlist the help of a physical therapist for your shoulder pain, call us today. A physical therapist can help you to prevent your condition from getting worse, and help you start living a better quality of life despite the shoulder pain you have when lifting the arm.

At Above & Beyond Physical Therapy, we have physical therapists available at two convenient locations in both Queen Creek and Phoenix.  Contact us today.


Queen Creek Location
21321 E. Ocotillo Rd., Suite 122
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Ph: 480.987.1870
F: 480.987.9289

3201 W. Peoria Ave., Suite D800
Phoenix, AZ 85029
Ph: 602.866.2231
F: 602.866.2261