Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Most people experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives, and it is a very common problem. It is important to accurately diagnose the pain so the shoulder can be treated correctly as soon as possible. 

Here are some of the more common causes of shoulder pain, with a brief explanation of each:

Shoulder impingement syndrome

This is where the supraspinatus tendon (one of the rotator cuff muscles) gets trapped underneath the acromioclavicular joint (ACJ). Other names for shoulder impingement syndrome are clinical impingement syndrome and painful arc syndrome.


Inflammation of the bursa (fluid filled sac) that sits underneath one ofthe shoulder joints, known as the acromioclavicular joint.

Supraspinatus tendonitis

This is tendonitis of the supraspinatus muscle, one of the rotator cuff muscles. Most often caused by abrasion underneath the ACJ.

Rotator Cuff Tear

This is where one of the rotator cuff muscles tears. You may suffer a full thickness tear, or a partial thickness tear. The rotator cuff attach all around the shoulder and help to stabilise it.

Calcific tendonitis

This is where the rotator cuff tendon becomes calcified due to a prolonged period of abrasion.

Shoulder Arthritis (of the acromioclavicular joint)

Wear and tear changes under the acromion of the shoulder leading to shoulder impingement syndrome. This includes bone spurs.

These conditions are all treatable. See treatment recommendations.