Does Your Shoulder Hurt When You Lift Your Arm?

Shoulder pain can be caused due to a variety of conditions. The shoulder joint is made up of many different structures – bones, tendons and ligaments. Unfortunately, this complex structure makes the shoulder susceptible to a variety of injuries. These injuries can result in pain, inflammation and an inability of the shoulder joint to function properly.


The labrum is the soft cartilage that lines the socket of the shoulder joint. SLAP tears (Superior Labral Tear from Anterior to Posterior) are tears or lesions in the labrum.

SLAP tears can be caused by any physical activity, from picking up something off a shelf to weightlifting. These injuries typically result in –

• deep pain
• decreased strength
• limited range of motion
• an inability to raise arms overhead

SLAP tears can be treated and usually don’t result in any long-term function loss.

Impingement (Shoulder Bursitis, Tennis Shoulder, Swimmer’s Shoulder)
Shoulder impingement syndrome occurs when the tendons or bursa (the thin, fluid-filled sacs around the shoulder joint) get pinched between the tip of the acromion and the humerus. This is often caused due to bone spurs. Symptoms include –

• heavy pain in the arm or shoulder while lifting, moving, or lying on the arm
• difficulty sleeping
• decreased strength in the shoulder

Rotator Cuff Tear

One of the commonest shoulder injuries, a rotator cuff tear is a rupture of one of the tendons in the shoulder that allow you to raise your arm. Symptoms include –

• limited range of motion
• pain and weakness that increases on lifting the arm overhead


Shoulder dislocations occur when the head or humerus (upper arm bone) that forms the ball of the shoulder joint is forced out of the socket, as a result of sudden trauma. The symptoms of a dislocation are –

• intense pain right after the injury
• complete inability to move the arm
• shoulder deformity

Weightlifter’s Shoulder

Weightlifter’s shoulder or AC joint Osteolysis is a series of small fractures along the end of the collarbone which gradually damage the bones within the AC joint. Common symptoms include –

• a dull ache in the AC joint
• pain and tenderness at the top of the shoulder
• swelling at the end of the collarbone or in the AC joint
• reduced strength in the shoulder

Loose Bodies

Pieces of dislodged bone or cartilage may become trapped in the synovium (thin membrane around the shoulder joint). These are referred to as loose bodies in the shoulder. This can be caused due to gradual cartilage degeneration or sudden trauma. These fragments can cause moderate to severe pain and a catching sensation if they become caught in the joint.

Whether you are suffering from acute or chronic shoulder pain, consult an experienced shoulder surgeon right away.

To learn more about non-surgical and surgical shoulder treatments, call the leading shoulder surgeon in Phoenix AZ at Phoenix Shoulder and Knee at 480-219-3342.