Are you suffering from right shoulder pain? There are many possible causes of pain in your right shoulder. These causes may include arthritis, a right shoulder injury, or other conditions in the body. In some cases, right shoulder pain may result from a heart attack. This article summarizes 11 causes of right shoulder and arm pain with treatments.
11 Common Causes of Pain in Right Shoulder
1. Gallbladder Attack
The gallbladder is located on the upper right side of the abdomen, below the liver. Its function is mainly to help digest the fat in the diet. A gallbladder attack refers to a sudden onset of pain due to a medical condition called biliary colic. Biliary colic is caused by gallstones stuck in the bile duct, resulting in increased pressure in the gallbladder and swelling of the organ.
A gallbladder attack can cause dull pain in the upper right or middle part of the abdomen. This pain usually lasts for several hours, and the main symptoms are severe pain or cramps. The pain will increase significantly at night, before bedtime, or after meals. Moreover, these pains can spread to the right shoulder, causing pain in the right shoulder.
Gallbladder attacks can cause other symptoms such as liver problems and gallstone pancreatitis. It is a medical emergency and requires immediate care. If you feel severe pain, high fever, and yellow skin or eyes, you need to seek medical help immediately.
The doctor will give you painkillers to relieve the pain and take anti-nausea drugs to relieve the symptoms. Abdominal ultrasonography was then used to confirm whether a gallbladder attack caused the pain. If gallstones cause pain, surgery is often needed for treatment.
2. Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder is a common cause of stiffness and pain in the right shoulder. It can cause a dull ache or discomfort in one of your shoulders. This pain can extend to the shoulder muscles at the top of the arm. In severe cases, your shoulders will be challenging to move. Especially at night, the pain may worsen, making it hard to sleep.
The symptoms of frozen shoulder are mainly divided into three phases: The freezing stage, the Frozen stage, and the Thawing stage.
First, it occurs gradually in the beginning and worsens over time. Then the pain may get better, but the stiffness gets worse. It becomes more challenging for you to get through daily activities. Finally, your range of motion begins to return to normal; this can take six months to 2 years.
3. Shoulder osteoarthritis
Shoulder osteoarthritis refers to pain and stiffness caused by articular cartilage wear. Arthritis is a normal consequence of age and use. The joint surface will degenerate as time passes, and the articular cartilage will wear out. This can cause pain in the right shoulder blade. Patients with shoulder arthritis may feel a sharp pain when moving their shoulders. This symptom may persist after the exercise has stopped. Sometimes, the pain will persist while you sleep.
In addition, shoulder osteoarthritis can result in a limited range of motion. Moving your shoulders can also produce clicking or creaking noise. The risk of shoulder osteoarthritis increases with age. However, it can also occur in young people due to shoulder injuries such as shoulder fractures or dislocations. This is called posttraumatic arthritis.
Over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, or naproxen are commonly used to treat shoulder osteoarthritis. For overweight people, weight loss can reduce joint stress and relieve pain.
In addition, sports such as swimming and cycling are a good choice for people with arthritis. These exercises can help maintain strength and mobility. At home, you can also use heat or cold therapy to alleviate the discomfort caused by arthritis.
4. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
Rotator cuff tendinitis is one of the most important causes of right shoulder pain. It affects tendons and muscles that help move your shoulders. Inflammation can cause swelling of the tendon and cause pain in the shoulders. When you lift or lower your arm, you may feel severe pain accompanied by a clicking sound. This pain can also spread to your back. This can cause your arm to lose mobility and strength, and sometimes the pain can cause you to wake from sleep.
Rotator cuff gingivitis usually occurs over time. This may be caused by sleeping on your shoulder every night, your shoulders being held for some time, or often taking part in activities that require your arms to be raised overhead. Athletes tend to develop rotator cuff tendonitis. This is why the condition can also be called: tennis shoulder, pitcher’s shoulder, swimmer’s shoulder. But sometimes rotator cuff inflammation occurs without any known cause. You need to consult a doctor for an examination.
How to treat rotator cuff gingivitis? First, you need to avoid activities that cause pain. Applying an ice pack on your shoulders can help reduce swelling. In addition, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be used for treatment. The rotator cuff tendonitis usually does not require surgery. However, this method may be used if you have other problems on your shoulders, such as tendon tears.
5. Lung cancer or breast cancer
In some cases, constant right shoulder pain may be caused by lung cancer or breast cancer. Cancerous tumors can oppress nerves, and the brain may think that pain comes from the shoulders. If cancer affects the right breast, the pain can spread to the right shoulder blade. In addition, if cancer has spread to the liver, it can cause pain in the right shoulder.
To prevent the pain caused by cancer, it is best to check regularly. Women need regular screening for breast cancer. Early detection is the best way to avoid this cancer.
6. A pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder
A pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder is also known as cervical radiculopathy. As you age, your vertebra will grow new bone spurs. These bone spurs exert pressure on the nerve roots of the spine.
This can result in a “needle” on the shoulder and numbness or discomfort in the shoulder or arm. In addition, you may also feel neck pain when your head is turning from side to side. Sometimes you may feel numbness and tingle in your fingers or hands.
When you suffer cervical radiculopathy, you need to be treated as soon as possible. The spine specialist will use X-ray or MRI scans for a thorough examination. Treatment usually involves physical therapy, short-term traction, or steroid injections. These methods can help relieve pain and swelling. If the problem is severe, you may need surgery to eliminate the pain caused by the spurs.
7. Heart attack
Heart disease is caused by hypoxia in the heart muscle, which can cause damage to the heart. The patient may feel uncomfortable or pain because the heart absorbs less oxygen than is needed. This pain can radiate to the arms, shoulders, neck, and back. At the same time, it may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, dizziness, cold sweats, and difficulty breathing.
Left or right shoulder pain may be caused by heart disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2016, people with heart disease may be more likely to suffer from shoulder pain. If you suddenly feel nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or severe back pain, seek medical attention immediately.
8. Angina pectoris
Angina occurs when the heart absorbs less oxygen than is needed. It is different from heart disease. Angina is mainly caused by coronary artery occlusion or stenosis. There are two main angina pectoris: stable angina and unstable angina. Angina can cause discomfort or pain that can radiate to the shoulders, neck, back, or chin.
Fracture is one of the common causes of pain in the right shoulder. Fractures usually occur when a fall or a severe blow causes the bone to break or rupture.
Shoulder fractures usually involve the clavicle, upper arm bone, and shoulder blade bone. A fracture can cause severe pain, swelling, and bruising on the shoulder. If the clavicle is broken, you will find the shoulders drooping. This can make it difficult to lift your arms.
10. Islocation of the Shoulder
Dislocation of the shoulder occurs when the joint ball becomes loose and comes out of the socket. This can be caused by severe trauma such as falling or hitting. Dislocation can cause swelling and severe pain. When your arms are lifted over your head, your shoulders feel slack and slip in some places.
If your shoulders are dislocated, be sure to seek medical help as soon as possible. The doctor will use an X-ray to see if a fracture has occurred. After that, the doctor will put the ball of the joint back into the socket and fix the shoulder in the sling. In some cases, surgery is also needed to tighten the loose ligaments. Dislocation of the shoulder may take several weeks to recover. Try to avoid hitting the injured shoulder during treatment.
11. Torn Cartilage
The shoulder labrum is soft cartilage in the scapular socket at the top of the upper arm bone. Injury or repeated movements of the upper arm may tear the labrum. This can cause severe pain in the shoulders.
If you suffer from this pain, be sure to contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may take anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve your pain. In addition, some home remedies help to relieve pain. Physical therapy can last from six weeks to two months, depending on the severity of the injury.
When to see a doctor
If any of the following conditions occur, you should see a doctor immediately.
- Swelling or bruising around the joints or arms
- Shoulder pain or difficulty breathing when sleeping or resting
- Shoulder pain is so severe that you cannot carry items or use your arms
- Fever, redness, or other abnormal symptoms
- Tendon bleeding after injury
If these symptoms occur, it may mean a more severe problem such as a fracture. At this time, you need to see a doctor for an X-ray examination. In an emergency, ask for emergency help or call 911.