Left Shoulder Pain: Causes and Remedies

Left Shoulder Pain: Causes and Remedies


Left shoulder pain, whether sudden or chronic, can be both bothersome and alarming. It is essential to comprehend the shoulder joint’s anatomy and the diverse causes of this discomfort. In this article, we’ll delve into the complexities of left shoulder pain, examining its potential causes and exploring available remedies.

Anatomy of Shoulder Joint

Before we explore the specifics of left shoulder pain, let’s briefly understand the complex anatomy of the shoulder joint. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint comprising the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collarbone). The shoulder joint permits a broad range of movement but is vulnerable to various problems that may result in pain.

What is Shoulder Pain?

As we delve into the details, let’s first comprehend the manifestation of a wide range of pain in the left shoulder involving connective tissue and the specific risk factors involved.

How does it feel

Left shoulder pain can present in various ways, including:

  • Dull Ache: A persistent, lingering discomfort, especially associated with repetitive movements.
  • Sharp, Stabbing Sensations: Sudden, intense sharp pain that may be stabbing or shooting.
  • Limited Mobility: Individuals may encounter limitations in shoulder movement, resulting in a feeling of limited range.
  • Discomfort During Movements: Pain may intensify during specific activities, impacting day-to-day motions.

Risk factor

Several factors elevate the risk of developing left discomfort, especially for people with shoulder pain. These include:

  • Age: Advancing age can contribute to wear and tear on the shoulder joint, increasing susceptibility to pain. Shoulder pain is common among workers over 50, especially in physically demanding jobs.
  • Overuse: Repetitive or excessive shoulder use may lead to strain and pain, particularly affecting shoulder motion, especially in certain professions or activities.
  • Trauma: Shoulder injuries, such as falls or accidents, can result in shoulder pain, affecting the joint and surrounding structures.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or inflammatory disorders, may predispose individuals to left shoulder pain.

In some cases, the occurrence of shoulder pain was linked to various independent risk factors, including depressive symptoms, limited job control, and biomechanical constraints.

How Common is Left Shoulder Pain?

How Common is Left Shoulder Pain?

Left shoulder pain is a prevalent complaint affecting people of all ages and lifestyles. Understanding its commonality helps contextualize its significance, especially in the context of daily activities, and prompts individuals to seek appropriate medical attention.

Common Causes of Left Shoulder Pain

Left shoulder pain arises from diverse sources, each with unique characteristics. Understanding these common causes is crucial for determining the right course of action. Now, let’s explore specific conditions contributing to left shoulder pain and their distinct features, addressing the question of ‘what causes left shoulder pain.


Involves inflammation of the joint, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Osteoarthritis, commonly seen with aging, and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, are typical forms affecting the shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder gradually stiffens the shoulder joint, leading to pain and limited mobility. The cause is often unclear but may be associated with prolonged immobility or certain medical conditions.

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Bursitis

Signifies inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons, leading to pain and swelling. Bursitis involves inflammation of the bursa, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the shoulder joint. Overuse, repetitive motions, or injury can contribute to these conditions.

Rotator Cuff Tears

It occurs when the tendons that make up the rotator cuff are damaged or torn. This can result from trauma, degeneration over time, or wear and tear, leading to pain, weakness, and difficulty lifting the arm. Research indicates that 20-40% of the general population has asymptomatic rotator cuff tears.

Calcific Tendonitis

Involves the formation of calcium deposits in the tendons of the rotator cuff. This may result in pain and limited mobility. While the exact cause remains unclear, it could be associated with aging or chronic inflammation.

Shoulder Impingement

It happens when the tendons of the rotator cuff get compressed between the shoulder bones. This can lead to pain, particularly when lifting the arm, and might be connected to overuse or variations in anatomy.

Shoulder Fractures

Fractures in the bones of the shoulder, such as the humerus or collarbone, can cause significant pain and limit mobility. Trauma, falls, or accidents are common causes of shoulder fractures, often associated with the development of bone spurs.


Refers to a grating, popping, or crackling sound or sensation within the shoulder joint. It may be caused by the rubbing of roughened cartilage or the presence of air bubbles in the joint fluid, often associated with aging or joint inflammation.

Is Left Shoulder Pain A Symptom of a Heart Attack?

While left shoulder pain is typically musculoskeletal, it’s important to note that it can occasionally be linked to heart-related issues. Recognizing this potential connection is crucial for prompt medical attention, especially in cases of left shoulder pain without injury.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain

Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain

To identify the underlying cause of left shoulder pain, healthcare professionals employ a combination of diagnostic methods. These include various approaches crucial for the effective treatment for shoulder pain.

Physical Examinations

Skilled physical examinations allow healthcare providers to evaluate the range of motion, strength, and any obvious signs of injury or inflammation in the shoulder. These examinations help in identifying potential issues and guide further diagnostic steps.

Imaging Tests

Imaging is crucial for assessing the shoulder’s internal structures. X-rays reveal bone details, exposing fractures, while Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) visualizes soft tissues, aiding in identifying conditions like tears or inflammation.

Patient History

Collecting information on past injuries, chronic conditions, and pain patterns is vital. It forms a comprehensive understanding of shoulder health, aiding in the diagnostic process.

Remedies and Treatments for Left Shoulder Pain

When addressing left shoulder pain, a spectrum of remedies and treatments comes into play. From non-surgical interventions aimed at alleviating discomfort to surgical options for more severe cases, let’s explore the diverse approaches available to manage and treat left shoulder pain.

Non-Surgical Approaches

Rest and Ice: Resting the affected shoulder is essential for recovery. Applying ice helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, serving as an effective initial remedy for managing mild shoulder discomfort.

Physical Therapy: Guided exercises by a physical therapist enhance shoulder strength, flexibility, and overall function. This valuable intervention serves both preventive and rehabilitative purposes for various shoulder conditions.

Medications: Nonprescription pain relievers like NSAIDs offer temporary relief and reduce inflammation. For more severe pain management, prescription medications may be recommended in certain cases.

Surgical Treatments

Arthroscopy: A less invasive procedure where a small camera is placed inside the shoulder joint to diagnose and treat issues like rotator cuff tears or inflammation.

Rotator Cuff Repair: For significant tears, surgery might be required to reconnect the torn tendon to the bone.

Joint Replacement: In cases of severe arthritis, joint replacement surgery could be advised to substitute the impaired shoulder joint with a prosthetic implant.

Decompression Surgery: Addressing shoulder impingement by creating additional room for the rotator cuff tendons to move without restriction.

Can left shoulder pain be prevented?

Preventing left shoulder pain involves proactive measures and lifestyle adjustments, ensuring a focus on maintaining normal activities. Key strategies include:

Lifestyle Changes: Incorporating a healthy lifestyle, including health tips such as a well-balanced diet and regular exercise, contributes to overall well-being and may help prevent shoulder issues.

Maintaining Good Posture: Poor posture may lead to strain in the shoulder muscles and joints. Conscious efforts to maintain good posture, especially during prolonged sitting or computer work, can reduce the risk of shoulder discomfort.

Regular Shoulder Exercises: Target shoulder exercises enhance strength, flexibility, and stability. This proactive approach helps condition the muscles and ligaments, reducing the likelihood of shoulder pain.

When to Seek Medical Help?

Address left shoulder pain with accurate diagnosis and effective treatments, including physical therapy. For personalized care, connect with Kinetic Sports and Spine to take the first step towards relief and expert guidance from pain specialists.


In conclusion, left shoulder pain is a common issue with diverse causes. Proper understanding, timely medical intervention, and incorporating preventive measures are essential elements of an effective treatment plan, guided by the expertise of a medical professional, collectively contributing to managing and minimizing the impact of left shoulder pain.


Q1: When should I be worried about shoulder pain?

A1: Persistent or severe shoulder pain, especially when accompanied by additional symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or difficulty moving the arm, and particularly if associated with intense pain or shoulder instability, should raise concerns. Promptly seek medical attention to determine the root cause.

Q2: How do you know if left shoulder pain is heart-related?

A2: Heart-related left shoulder pain may be accompanied by symptoms like chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or sudden shoulder pain radiating down the left arm. If you suspect a heart-related issue, seek immediate medical help.

Q3: Should I massage shoulder pain?

A3: Gentle massage may help alleviate mild shoulder discomfort by promoting blood circulation and relaxing muscles. However, avoid massaging if the pain is due to an injury or inflammation, as it could worsen the condition, especially if associated with a specific type of shoulder pain. If uncertain, seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

A man in a black shirt standing in front of a white wall.

Dr. Jason Avakian

COMT,cTDN,CFSC,FRCms,FMS Owner Kinetic PT and Fitness

At Kinetic PT, we are experts dedicated to eliminating the pain and discomfort of our patients. We specialize in advanced techniques which transform our client experience from pain to maximum performance in the gym and daily life

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