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Left Shoulder Pain


Left shoulder pain can be bothersome and can affect the quality of life as the ability to move the shoulder is generally affected. Left shoulder pain while seems not serious for most people, should be given an attention particularly if the cause is unknown. The condition might be significant to an existing underlying condition to which the onset of left shoulder pain is a manifestation.

The pain in left shoulder can be from the shoulder itself or may be a referred pain from the other part of the body. Most pain in and around the shoulder involves the muscle, ligaments and tendons and it could be at the front or at the back of the shoulder. The shoulder blade or the scapula is the most unstable joint in the body which makes it more prone to several problems such as pain.

The pain in the left shoulder can hinder the daily activity of the affected individual as the pain is literally aggravated with movement of the arm or the shoulder itself. Referred shoulder pain does not worsen with every movement of the joint or the shoulder itself. In referred pain, the pain usually arises from the other part of the body such as the heart and the gallbladder and not from the joint or the shoulder itself. This is why left shoulder pain should not be disregarded and should be given medical attention to properly address the underlying condition that causes the pain.

Symptoms of Left Shoulder Pain

Left shoulder pain is not a disease itself but is more of a symptom of some other disease or condition wherein left shoulder pain is part of the disease process.

On the other hand, the pain felt in left shoulder varies and not two people can experience the same extent of pain. The pain and its extent will also depend on what caused the pain on the left shoulder.

Pain on the left shoulder can be identified as throbbing or sharp or a shooting pain and it can be constant or intermittent. The onset of pain can be abrupt or it can be slow and developing and the pain can be mild or severe.

Pain on the left shoulder can also be accompanied with bruising and swelling. Onset of fever is also part of the symptom and which may be a low grade or high grade fever.

Causes of Left Shoulder Pain

Left shoulder pain can be brought by several factors and medical conditions.

Factors causing left shoulder pain include the following:

Aging causes the bone to become brittle and weaker. This is generally part of the natural aging process in which the bone density becomes weak and brittle making it more prone to fracture and other complications.

Bad computer habits can result to pain in the left shoulder. An extensive or prolonged period in front of the computer in a wrong posture or position can put strain on either shoulder which results to pain. The pain may be due to the inflammation of the muscle and severe headaches or may be due to muscle spasm.

Impingement syndrome is caused by repetitive motion in which the bone and tissue of the shoulder rub together causing friction and pain.

Improper position in sleep is among the most common cause of shoulder pain and left shoulder pain. People often complain of pain in the shoulder when they sleep in the wrong position such as sleeping on the left side of the body which brings the left shoulder pain.

Injury to the left shoulder can definitely bring pain. The injury to the shoulder can be due to strain in the shoulder as a result of overuse and overexertion of the shoulder. The shoulder may also get injured with accident such as vehicular accident and fall. Injury to the rotator cuff and the muscle that holds the ball of the shoulder are the usual causes of pain in the shoulder.

Fracture on the left shoulder is another reason for the shoulder to be in pain. Fracture not only causes extreme pain but can also result to a limited range of motion. Fracture in the scapula, clavicle, glenoid process and coracoids process can bring pain to the shoulder or in the left shoulder.

Instability of the shoulder can force the shoulder joint out of its original position thereby causing the individual to experience pain. Instability pain is particularly experience when the arm is raised up or when using the arm in normal range of motion.

Compressed nerve or pinched nerve can cause pain in the left shoulder especially if nerve compression occurs in the left shoulder. The pain can be felt from the shoulder blade down to the arm.

Medical conditions that can cause left shoulder pain include the following:

Frozen shoulder prevents the patient from moving their shoulder as every movement of the shoulder can bring so much pain. The pain in frozen shoulder is due to the insufficiency of synovial fluid that lubricates the shoulder joint.

Bursitis or the inflammation of the bursae can lead to significant pain in the shoulder. The bursae is a sack filled with fluid located in between the bones and the muscle and function as a cushion to allow movement while preventing friction that can bring in pain.

Pancoast tumor is a type of lung cancer that involves the upper lobes of the lungs and its surrounding tissues. Pancoast tumor is a non-small cell carcinoma that can bring pain to the left shoulder.


The treatment for left shoulder pain will depend on the underlying condition that caused the pain. Rest is initially advised when pain is due to strain. Rest will allow the shoulder some time to heal and it is also best to keep the shoulder immobile while on the process of healing.

Cold compress and hot compress can both help reduce the inflammation and reduce pain on the left shoulder. Application of hot or cold compress is advised for 15 minutes for three times a day.

Medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can reduce the inflammation and relieve pain. These can be bought over-the-counter although it is best to follow the direction in the packaging in taking the medicine.

Sling is best to immobilize the shoulder while allowing it for some time to heal. A sling can restrict the movement of the shoulder which is important while under the healing process. This is to prevent further injury or damage.

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