Sore arm in shoulder joint when raising arm

The humerus in the upper part has a spherical shape, and the articular cavity of the scapula connected to the humerus looks like a small “fossa”. The role of the cavity is to mitigate the level of friction of the shoulder bone during movement. Also, the cavity provides protection during sudden movements of the hand.

The joint capsule of the shoulder is connected to the bone base of the scapula. Nerve endings connect the shoulder joint and scapula. As a result, pain may occur with careless movements. In general, there are almost no nerve endings in the shoulder joint, and it is connected to the rest of the limb only with muscles. Because of this structure, dislocations and injuries to the hand are common.


Possible causes of discomfort are:

  • Injuries. Dislocations and muscle strain are the most common cause of an unpleasant syndrome. Pathology may develop due to an unsuccessful fall or stroke.
    osteochondrosis. Drawing pain in the shoulder, passing into the neck and arms, most likely indicates the presence of osteochondrosis.
  • Muscle strain. Every day, a person performs many actions that the shoulder joint gets used to. A change in such actions provokes inflammation of the cuff of the shoulder.
  • Arthrosis of the shoulder joint. The disease belongs to chronic ailments, accompanied by severe pain when trying to raise a hand. This condition is characterized by a decrease in the elasticity of the cartilage, over time, the patient begins to experience constant pain.
  • Salt deposits. After 40 years, an excessive accumulation of calcium in the joints occurs. As a result, there is a crunch and pain in the shoulder when raising a hand.
  • Tendon inflammation. The disease develops with severe hypothermia or overstrain of the shoulder muscles. Tendons with a compacted structure rub against the bone, which is characterized by pain in the shoulder when raising a hand.


Different diseases have similar symptoms, but the nature of the pain has distinctive features. Thanks to the sensations, it is quite possible to assess the degree of development of the ailment:

  • Strong pain. It is these feelings that the patient experiences with the inflammatory process of the ligaments, shoulder injury and pinched nerve.
  • Sharp. Weight lifting can provoke damage to the shoulder joint, which is proved by acute pain.
  • Aching. This nature of the pain is more likely not indicative of joint damage, but of pathological changes within the body. Most likely, the patient is diagnosed with myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, etc.
  • Sharp. It occurs due to the presence of infectious processes in the shoulder joint.
  • Constant. Bruise or serious bone damage is accompanied by constant pain.
  • Dumb. A similar pain syndrome is characteristic of tendonitis.
  • Throbbing. It is a consequence of muscle strain.


An accurate diagnosis can be obtained using diagnostic methods:

  1. X-ray diagnostics. The technique helps to determine the condition of cartilage tissue, whether there are bruises and other injuries.
  2. MRI The method gives an accurate picture of the condition of the joint and nearby tissues.
  3. CT scan. The study shows the nature of the pathological process, which can be dystrophic, degenerative or inflammatory.

Having collected the necessary information according to the results of the examination, it is not difficult for a specialist to determine the diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

Treatment and what to do

Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologistShishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.

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First aid

As soon as acute pain has made itself felt, it is worthwhile to stop this symptom to prevent possible damage to the joint of the shoulder:

  • Limit any hand movements.
  • Apply cold for 20 minutes, repeat after 2 hours.
  • Relax your muscles, use special exercises or do yoga.

Having provided first aid, be sure to visit a doctor to clarify the diagnosis.


You can stop pain in the shoulder when raising your hand using ointments and tablets (Diclofenac, Ibuprofen).

In the inflammatory process, corticosteroids are prescribed, also non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often used. In the first case, the drugs are used in severe cases of the disease and the course of their administration is short. The second ones are used for treatment up to three months. Reception of both of these helps to reduce pain during a raising of the arm.

When taking tablets and using ointments do not give the desired effect, injections are prescribed in the joint lesion area. Actually, such a solution, especially with tendonitis and bursitis.

Physiotherapy and surgery

Almost always, in the presence of a symptom of pain, when trying to raise a patient’s hand, they are sent for physiotherapy. Mud baths, ultraviolet radiation, exercises give a good result and relieve discomfort. A special place in this treatment is given to massage and acupuncture. These techniques relax muscles well and, under the influence on the necessary points, contribute to the speedy recovery of the patient.

Nevertheless, situations are not excluded when the only way to help the patient get rid of the disease is to use a scalpel. This is usually necessary when stitching ligaments, to replace the joint with an implant and other manipulations. Rehabilitation after surgery is quite lengthy, so do not allow such a neglected situation.


There are simple recommendations for maintaining joints:

  1. Use hard mattresses and the same pillow.
  2. Distribute the load evenly on both hands.
  3. Keep your back always straight.

Do gymnastics in the morning, do not supercool and do not allow the body to overheat.

It is important to remember that if the pain does not go away for more than a week, you should immediately visit a specialist. Self-medication is simply dangerous, since increasing pain can lead to unpleasant consequences.

When the shoulder hurts when raising the arm up: treatment of pathology

If the shoulder hurts when raising the arm up – treatment is required immediately. The shoulder is considered one of the most complex parts of the musculoskeletal system of a person. The shoulder joint is able to withstand intense physical exertion and other negative effects, but up to a point.

Provoking factors cause severe pain in the shoulders. This symptom occurs under the influence of injuries of varying intensity, hypothermia or the inflammatory process. Incorrect movements can provoke the development of serious complications.

Why does pain appear

Pain in the shoulder when raising a hand does not arise just like that, this process develops under the influence of certain factors. These include:

  • an injury;
  • rheumatic diseases;
  • tendonitis;
  • bursitis;
  • periarthritis.

Severe pain in the shoulder joint may result from trauma. This problem occurs when performing heavy physical work. Monotonous professional activity is also capable of influencing this process. Rheumatic diseases also cause pain in the shoulder joint when raising the arm. The most common pathological processes are gout, osteoarthritis, arthritis and Lyme disease.

Sharp pain in the left shoulder joint occurs with dislocation, subluxation and rupture of ligaments. Unprofessional athletes often complain of such injuries. Shoulder damage is the result of improper exercise.

Tendonitis is accompanied by a pronounced inflammatory process. It develops in the tendons of the shoulder girdle. In the chronic course of pathology, there is not only pain in the right shoulder or in the left, but also the destruction of tendon fibers. The cause of the acute inflammatory process is excessive motor activity. The development of the disease is indicated by frequent crunching in the joint, often this symptom is accompanied by pain.

Bursitis is an inflammatory process of the synovial cavity. It is characterized by the accumulation of fluid, as a result of which the joint begins to hurt. Provoke the disease methods of mechanical irritation, salt deposits on the surface of the joint and wounds.

Periarthritis is considered a complex pathology, it is characterized by the defeat of the entire shoulder apparatus. There is pain in the shoulder when raising a hand. As the pathological process progresses, motor activity is impaired. Other diseases can also provoke an unpleasant symptom. These include myositis and hernia.

Pain in the right shoulder joint may result from impaired posture and even cancer. Often, pain indicates liver damage and diseases of the cardiovascular system.

Therapeutic effect

If the arm hurts, the therapeutic effect must be started immediately. Pain is a non-specific symptom. It is the result of many diseases. A symptom appears when you raise your hand, lower it, or perform certain efforts. Before prescribing optimal therapy, the doctor conducts a series of laboratory and instrumental studies.

Standard therapy is represented by drug exposure, it is based on a whole range of drugs.

  1. Anesthetics.
  2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  3. Hormonal drugs.
  4. Restorative remedies.

If sharp pain bothers you, it is necessary to use painkillers. Their action is aimed at stopping the pain syndrome. Some drugs also have anti-inflammatory effects. The most popular drugs are Tylenol, Methadone, and Tramadol.

If the cause of the pain is due to an intense inflammatory process, it is appropriate to use anti-inflammatory non-steroid medications. Specialists prefer Diclofenac, Ibuprofen and Indomethacin. They have a positive effect and stop the pain syndrome. To increase the effectiveness of the therapy used, not only systemic, but also local effects are used. For this purpose, ointments are used, in particular, Voltaren.

It is necessary to treat the pathological process with the help of hormonal drugs. They have a general effect on the affected area and contribute to the elimination of unpleasant symptoms. The most popular medicines are Prednisone and Metipred.

If the shoulder joint hurts when raising a hand, it is appropriate to use restorative preparations. They are always used in combination with other means. Their action is aimed at restoring the affected area, including blood circulation and metabolic processes.

Why the shoulder hurts and how to cope with the pathology, the doctor decides. It all depends on the cause of the development of pain. In any case, complex therapy is used. It can be supplemented by physiotherapeutic procedures, gymnastics and folk techniques.

Additional techniques

If the pain in the left hand or right is caused by an ordinary sprain, some measures will help ease the intensity of the symptom.

EventsWhat to do and how to help
Help with intense pain.Take an anesthetic (Paracetamol or Ibuprofen).
Minimization of motor activity of a sick limb.If it is painful to raise a hand, it is necessary to exclude this movement, and apply ice to the affected area for a short time.
Light massage.A sore spot is recommended to massage.
Conditions for sleeping.Sleep exclusively on a hard surface (it should be comfortable).
As the condition eases.To resort to the help of physiotherapy exercises.

Exercises must be performed slowly and measuredly. If they are painful, then the joint has not fully recovered. If pain occurs when moving the arm to the side, excessive motor activity should be avoided.

When involving in the pathological process of the neck, it is good to use a special supportive corset.

About folk remedies

Pain in the limb when retracted is stopped by folk methods. Alternative medicine takes an “honorable” place in the issue of eliminating inflammatory diseases of the musculoskeletal system: it acts only as an auxiliary technique. The use of folk remedies is necessary under the supervision of a specialist. This is a kind of addition to drug therapy, which enhances the effectiveness of its effects.

Ancient methods of treatment have a positive effect on the affected area. For relief of pain, compresses and medicinal baths based on medicinal herbs are suitable. The expressed action is characterized by chamomile, calendula, celandine and burdock. They eliminate the inflammatory process and accelerate the healing process.

Treatment with folk remedies is appropriate for intense pain. To stop the pain, you can melt the pork oil with the marsh saber and put in a compress on the affected area. A mixture of liquid honey, olive oil and dry mustard has a good effect.

When using compresses and folk ointments, care must be taken. If they are painfully applied, perhaps the reason lies not in a simple bruise, but in a serious inflammatory process. In this case, you must urgently go to the hospital!

How to get r >

The shoulder joint is such a complex musculoskeletal system that a violation in any link leads to the appearance of pain.

Traumatologist patients often complain of pain in the shoulder during various movements of the hand, especially annoying when raising the arm up.

Accurate and correct determination of the cause is possible only with a full examination of the shoulder joint using instrumental methods.

The mechanism of pain

But almost always after several years of wear, the shoulder begins to hurt.

Pain is the first signal of the body, indicating that it is time to spare the joint.

Any dysfunction of the ligaments, muscles, vertebrae or intervertebral discs is necessarily accompanied by pain. This is due to the reason, localized in the shoulder, a large number of nerve endings and the vulnerability of the joint itself.

Main reasons

Incorrect posture

Gradually, intervertebral discs receiving insufficient nutrition, flatten, losing their elasticity.

The vertebrae are too close to each other, infringing on the nerve roots leading to the shoulder area. Each movement of the hand is accompanied by sharp, sharp pain.

Recommendations for correcting posture with special exercises and wearing a corset are here.

Instructions for using magnetic posture correctors, manufacturers reviews and owner reviews.

Rotator cuff injury

Extreme mobility to the shoulder joint is provided by tendons, which form a kind of cuff and cover the head of the joint. Tendons are associated with the surrounding muscles, which set in motion the shoulder.

With a tear or complete rupture of one of the tendons, the amplitude of movements is violated, pain appears.

Pain sensations intensify with the abduction of the arm, at night or when trying to raise the arm up. With an incomplete gap, the range of movements does not suffer much, but if there is a complete gap, then the person suffers from the inability to perform the usual actions.

Frozen Shoulder or Humeroscapular Periarthritis Syndrome

In fact, gradually and steadily limiting the range of hand movements, there may be various reasons.

In fact, the “frozen shoulder” is not an independent disease, but a consequence of the rejection of timely treatment of the shoulder joint.

By the way, the joint can be completely healthy, but with radicular syndrome or rupture of ligaments, the patient experiences such severe pain when moving with his hand that he avoids this. Gradually, without movement, the joint capsule shrinks, atrophy of the muscles surrounding it is observed. This leads to the formation of neurogenic contractures and a long recovery period.


Calcifications are formed due to persistent tissue hypoxia. This means that restriction of joint mobility or vascular pathologies can lead to the formation of calcifications.

In the inflamed area, severe edema is observed, which provokes a spasm of the surrounding tissues and a moderate pain syndrome.


Inflammation of the synovial bag of the shoulder joint almost always begins after severe overstrain or penetration of bacteria.

This is possible with joint injury or infection with blood flow. In this case, there is a strong tension of the surrounding muscles and, associated with this, swelling of the connective tissue, leading to pain, numbness, weakness.

Tendon or muscle rupture

If the injury affected the small tendon or small muscle, then the pain will be felt during movements with the hand, but the range of movements can be maintained.

Over time, when the acute post-traumatic period ends, others will take over the function of the affected tendon or muscle. But if the injury affected a large tendon or muscle, then arm movements are impossible, and surgical intervention is recommended to the patient.

Violation of the acromioclavicular joint

The acromioclavicular joint is the most vulnerable in the shoulder-joint. It is he who is damaged most often during a fall, while dislocations or fractures occur that disrupt the usual range of hand movements and are accompanied by acute pain.

Reinforced physical activity

Overstrain of the shoulder girdle due to sports or hard work leads to swelling of muscle tissue. This provokes compression of the nerve fibers and the appearance of pain. Constant overload leads to depletion of the nutrition of the shoulder joint and degenerative changes.

Joint instability

In this case, periodic loss of the head of the joint from the articular cavity is observed, accompanied by minor pain.

Many patients note numbness of the hand or a feeling of goosebumps, these symptoms occur due to compression of nerve fibers.

Arthritis and arthrosis

Inflammation of the joint or destruction of the joint surfaces due to arthrosis, with any movement of the hand leads to the appearance of pain in the shoulder.

With arthritis, the inflammatory process leads to severe swelling, accompanied by pain and cramping.

Osteoarthritis in a progressive stage leads to thinning of cartilage and severe pain during friction of the articular surfaces.

Salt deposits

With gout, uric acid crystals have very sharp edges that mechanically injure the delicate joint cavity, causing severe inflammation and acute pain.

Deposition of salts, which has age-related causes, is less painful and does not begin sharply, but gradually, but as a result, the range of movements in the shoulder is greatly limited.

My shoulder hurts when raising my hand – what should I do?

A patient who feels pain in the shoulder when raising his hand must definitely consult a traumatologist or vertebrologist, especially if this symptom manifests itself after an injury or a fall.

Acute condition: a fracture or dislocation, rupture of a tendon or muscle, is always accompanied by acute pain, so you can take the following measures:

Provide peace to the shoulder joint

This can be done by simply fixing the shoulder, tying the hand to the body. This will help to avoid accidental, familiar hand movements and relieve pain.

Apply a cold compress

Cold reduces the likelihood of large swelling of damaged tissues and helps reduce the intensity of internal bleeding. Blood oozing from injured vessels and capillaries can form large hematomas, squeezing the surrounding tissue.

Muscle relaxation

Muscle spasms always aggravate pain, as nerves and fibers are spasmodic. Muscle relaxation is achieved by giving the arm a specific position. To do this, use a retracting tire or other device that allows you to maximize the relaxation of the shoulder muscles.

Possible nature of pain

The pain when raising a hand up can be either aching or acute: its nature depends on the cause of the pain.

  • Acute pain is characteristic for injuries accompanied by rupture of tissues or displacement of articular surfaces. Sharp, shooting pain can be observed with pinching of the nerve roots, with gouty arthritis or arthrosis.
  • Aching, constant pain in the shoulder is most often a symptom of an inflammatory joint disease, or progressive deposition of salt or arthrosis.

When to call a doctor

The onset of a serious illness that can lead to surgery or disability is not always accompanied by vivid symptoms.

A slight crunch in the shoulder, slight pain during exercise or habitual work – this is an occasion to undergo an examination. It is especially important to visit a doctor after a fall or other injury, which is accompanied by acute pain.

What drugs to use?

Treatment should always be prescribed by a doctor, but with acute pain, you can remove its intensity with painkillers or injections. “Baralgin”, “Tempalgin”, “Spazmalgon” cannot be used constantly, since pain is a signal of tissue damage, and if the pain intensity is reduced by drugs, then there is a risk of even more damage to the joint.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Diclofenac, Nurofen, Ibuprofen, Nimesulide help relieve inflammation and pain caused by arthritis or osteochondrosis. These drugs are prescribed for many joint problems, but they will not help with gouty arthritis or injuries.


To make a diagnosis, the doctor prescribes a mandatory examination of the shoulder region. This can be an x-ray, a study on the apparatus of magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography.

These studies allow a comprehensive study of the joint and soft tissues, detect defects and tears of soft tissues, the presence of calcifications inside the joint, and thinning of cartilage.


Surgical intervention is most often recommended for rupture of ligaments or muscles, with fractures or other injuries.

Conservative treatment includes not only drug therapy, but also a mandatory recovery period. The patient should perform gentle exercises of physiotherapy exercises every day to avoid the appearance of the “frozen shoulder” syndrome and contractures.

Physiotherapy, osteopathic techniques, massage, local rubbing and compresses – all this helps to overcome any disease of the shoulder joint.



Injury to the shoulder leading to rupture of the ligaments or fracture of the clavicle is almost impossible to prevent in the event of an accident. But the athlete or extreme can protect the shoulder joint using special protective equipment during training. Excessive stress, which leads to wear of the joint tissue and the beginning of degenerative changes, should be avoided. The pain, even the smallest and weakest, should be an alarm, an occasion to go to the doctor.

Shoulder hurts when raising arms

Pain in the shoulder joint is one of the most common reasons for patients to contact traumatologists and orthopedists, but if your shoulder hurts when you raise your arm, the cause of the problem may be completely different.

Shoulder hurts when raising a hand – what is the cause of the pathology?

If your shoulder hurts when raising your arms, circular movements of your arms, wearing weights, or performing certain movements, there can be many pathologies that can cause such pains. Most often, the shoulder joint suffers due to injuries, overexertion or inflammatory diseases. It is quite difficult to try to diagnose yourself and prescribe treatment on your own, since many diseases are similar in their manifestations, but they have different origin and require different treatment, so you can’t do without an experienced specialist.

The most common causes of shoulder pain when raising a hand

1. Injuries – the most common cause of pain in the shoulder joint is dislocation and muscle strain. They can occur in the event of an unsuccessful fall, a blow by the shoulder or a sharp movement of the hand. Such injuries are characterized by acute pain that occurs immediately after an injury or a few hours after it, swelling and redness of the shoulder joint and increased pain in raising the arm or moving it to the side.

2. Muscle strain – the shoulder joint resembles a mechanism with a certain margin of safety. Every day we perform certain movements, which the shoulder “mechanism” gets used to, and its overstrain or making non-typical movements (for example, painting the ceiling or playing bowling) can cause inflammation of the rotating cuff of the shoulder, accompanied by acute pain and the inability to raise the arm or bring it behind the back. Such pain occurs the day after hard work or active play and most often disappears on its own in 1-2 days.

3. Osteochondrosis – pain in the neck and shoulder, extending to the entire arm and intensifying when trying to raise the arm up or move the neck, indicates cervical or thoracic osteochondrosis. With this disease, displacement of the intervertebral discs, which “clamp” the roots of the brachial nerve, is possible, causing a strong, constant pain in the patient.

4. Arthrosis of the shoulder joint is a chronic, gradually developing disease in which pain occurs when trying to raise a hand or take it to the side. The patient tries to avoid active movements and gradually their volume is limited. Articular cartilages lose their elasticity, arm movements become more and more limited, and pain occurs even at rest.

5. Tendon inflammation – tendonitis of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint can occur due to excessive load, muscle strain or hypothermia – “slipped through”, thickened tendons rub against the bone during movements, causing pain. A clear localization of soreness during movement is characteristic, and the pain is felt constantly, dull not too intense, but intensifying upon palpation of the affected muscle.

6. Deposition of salts – the accumulation of calcium salts in the body and the “disinvestment” of the ligaments of the joint occurs mainly in people from 40 years of age and older and causes discomfort, “creaking” and the appearance of pain during certain movements, most often when trying to raise a hand up.

7. “Reflected” pain – pain in the shoulder joint when raising a hand can occur due to pathology of other organs, for example, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, liver, gall bladder, pneumonia or mediastinal tumors. In all of the above cases, shoulder pain is accompanied by other clinical symptoms – pain and pressure in the heart, pain in the right side of the abdomen, general worsening of the patient’s condition or cough.

Shoulder hurts when raising arms – what to do

It will not be possible to cope with severe pain in the shoulder independently, but you can try to alleviate the patient’s condition before seeking medical help.

1. Provide rest to the shoulder joint – if the cause of the pain is trauma or muscle strain, complete rest or minimization of movements will help reduce pain and relieve tension. In case of severe pain, it is recommended to apply a tight bandage to prevent any hand movements, fixing it relative to the body;

2. Apply a cold compress – if the pain has arisen due to trauma or overstrain, you can get rid of it with a cold compress – just put an ice warmer or a wet towel on the shoulder joint;

3. Muscle relaxation – to get rid of excessive tension with osteochondrosis or other diseases that provoke shoulder pain, you can use muscle relaxation. For this, special exercises, yoga, meditation or massage are suitable. It is also recommended that you sleep on a hard surface and have a comfortable position in your sleep.

Other ways to deal with shoulder pain when raising a hand can only be prompted by a doctor, after identifying the patient’s problems and making a diagnosis.

Morozov Georgiy

Georgy Morozov, rheumatologist. For more than 20 years, he has been involved in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of joint diseases.