Lifespan Orthopedics Institute
The Most Comprehensive Orthopedic Care in the Region

Shoulder and Elbow Pain

Injuries that result in pain or the loss of function in the shoulder and elbow are a common issue. Lifespan’s services include evaluation of shoulder and elbow injuries, outpatient and inpatient surgical or nonsurgical treatments, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.

What Is Shoulder Pain and Why Does My Shoulder Hurt?

Shoulder pain is defined as any kind of physical discomfort in or around the shoulder. The most movable joint in the human body, the shoulder’s flexibility can make it prone to injury. This often happens when the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that stabilize the shoulder are stressed.

A lifespan shoulder specialist can help you diagnose any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.

What Is Elbow Pain and Why Does My Elbow Hurt?

Elbow pain is agitation or tenderness in the elbow joint or the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Elbow pain is commonly caused by overuse and is associated with sports or the repetitive motions that are necessary for certain jobs.

If you’re experiencing elbow pain, one of our specialists can help diagnose the cause. Learn more about the specific causes of shoulder and elbow pain and explore treatment options. Make an appointment with our team of specialists.

What Are the Symptoms Associated with Shoulder and Elbow Pain?

Tenderness, swelling, and discomfort are all symptoms that are often associated with shoulder and elbow pain. If your pain is the result of a serious injury, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Take our online assessment to evaluate your shoulder pain.

What Conditions May Be Causing My Shoulder Pain?

The most common cause of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tendonitis, also called impingement syndrome, which occurs when the tendons in the shoulder become inflamed. The likeliest cause of rotator cuff tendonitis is repetitive overhead motions, like those used in sports.

Shoulder pain can also be caused by conditions such as:

  • Torn cartilage
  • A pinched nerve
  • Arthritis
  • Swollen bursa sacs or tendons

Shoulder discomfort may also be what is known as referred pain, when the issue stems from another area of the body like the neck or lungs. With referred pain, there is usually no worsening of symptoms when moving the shoulder.

Common at-home treatments for shoulder pain include rest, ice, pain relievers, stretching, and elbow bandaging. If these methods don’t provide relief, a Lifespan shoulder pain specialist can help you find a more effective treatment.

What Conditions May Be Causing My Elbow Pain?

The following conditions can be causes of elbow pain:

  • Medial epicondylitis – Also referred to as golfer’s elbow, medial epicondylitis is a type of tendonitis affecting the inner side of the elbow. Repetitive, forceful wrist and finger motions, like those used in golf or baseball, are often the cause.
  • Lateral epicondylitis – Also called tennis elbow, lateral epicondylitis affects the tendons at the outside of the elbow. Though it is often caused by playing tennis and other racquet sports, professionals like cooks, plumbers, and auto workers who employ repetitive forearm motions are also at risk.
  • Olecranon bursitis – Occurs when the olecranon bursa, a small sac of fluid at the tip of the elbow, becomes inflamed. The causes of olecranon bursitis are varied, and can include a blow to the elbow, prolonged pressure, an infection, and medical conditions like gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Common names for the condition include student’s elbow and miner’s elbow.

If you’re suffering from persistent elbow pain, our experts can take you through the treatments we have available for a wide range of elbow conditions in adult and adolescent patients.

When Should I Worry about Shoulder Pain?

If you’re experiencing minor shoulder pain, simple treatment methods like taking a pain reliever, using ice, and resting often provide relief. However, if the pain persists and interrupts sleep or daily activities, it’s a good idea to see a specialist.

Sudden pain in the left shoulder can be a sign of a heart attack, especially if it occurs along with dizziness, shortness of breath, or sweating. If you experience this, call 911 immediately.

Nonsurgical treatments including physical therapy, lifestyle modification, and steroid injections can be very effective. However, if nonsurgical treatments do not relieve your pain and restore your shoulder and function, our specialists may recommend surgical treatment, such as nerve decompression or shoulder replacement. Make an appointment with a Lifespan shoulder specialist today.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

"A Life-Changing Event," Happy Patient Says

An innovative shoulder replacement surgery got this baby boomer back in the gym.

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What Does Bursitis in the Shoulder Feel Like?

Pain in the shoulder from bursitis is often varied in its intensity. The pain can come on gradually or very suddenly and can range from a dull ache to sharp pain.

Signs of bursitis can include:

  • Feelings of swelling or stiffness
  • A limited range of motion
  • Pain when lying on the affected side

A shoulder specialist from the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute can help you diagnose shoulder bursitis, along with a range of other shoulder and elbow conditions.

How Can I Tell If I Tore My Rotator Cuff?

In addition to shoulder pain, a torn rotator cuff can come with symptoms such as:

  • Pain while lifting or lowering your arm
  • Weakness or strain when rotating the arm
  • Dull ache
  • Difficulty reaching behind your back

Depending on the seriousness of your condition, the right physical therapy exercises can provide relief. A Lifespan shoulder specialist can help you learn more about the most effective treatment options.

How Do I Know If My Elbow Pain Is Serious?

It’s important to know when to seek medical attention for your elbow pain.

When to seek medical help right away:

  • Pain or swelling is severe in nature
  • You are unable to use your elbow normally
  • You have an obvious deformity in your elbow

When to schedule a visit with a specialist:

  • Pain or swelling persists after home care
  • Discomfort occurs even when not using the arm
  • Your level of pain is increasing

The team of surgeons and specialists at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute can help treat your pain and get you back to your day-to-day activities.