Common Causes of Shoulder Pain Without Injury

Shoulder pain can come from a traumatic injury while playing sports or as the result of an auto accident. However, many people can experience shoulder pain without trauma. This discomfort can be due to conditions like arthritis or bursitis, or it could be “referred” pain, which comes from an injury in another part of the body.

Shoulder pain without injury can cause discomfort, such as swelling and stiffness. It may also limit movement and make it difficult to perform everyday actions, such as carrying a grocery bag or picking up your child.

Here is an in-depth look at what can cause shoulder pain without injury and possible treatment options.

What Are The Reasons For Shoulder Pain Without Injury?

While shoulder pain without injury can sometimes come from damage to another part of the body (referred shoulder pain), it is usually caused by a specific condition. Here is what can cause shoulder pain without injury.


Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint. It can occur in any part of the body, including the shoulder joint. Shoulder pain without injury can be a symptom of osteoarthritis. This chronic condition involves the wearing out of the cartilage between the shoulder joint, causing the bones to grind together. Shoulder pain can also be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the joint lining.

Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder pain without injury can also be a symptom of a frozen shoulder. The medical term for this condition is adhesive capsulitis. A frozen shoulder occurs as a result of the thickening of the protective tissues that line the joint—the thickening results in pain, especially during any shoulder movements.

Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears can occur gradually due to overuse or repetitive motions. It can cause pain during movement and limit the motion of the shoulder joint.

Spine or Disc Issues

You can also experience referred shoulder pain without injury as a result of spinal or intervertebral disc issues. For instance, pain from a herniated disc in your neck or upper back can radiate into your shoulders and upper arm.

shoulder pain

When Should I Worry About Shoulder Pain?

In most instances, sudden shoulder pain without injury treatments can effectively relieve pain and restore the full range of motion. In some cases, however, the pain can be a sign of something more serious, such as cancer, heart problems, or systemic infections.

More severe problems are usually accompanied by additional symptoms. If you experience any of these additional problems, you should quickly seek medical care.

  • Fever along with shoulder pain
  • Complete inability to lift your shoulder
  • Heat and tenderness around the joint
  • Persistent shoulder joint swelling that doesn’t resolve with common home treatments
  • Persistent shoulder pain that doesn’t improve after treatment

Can Shoulder Pain be Related to Heart Problems?

Shoulder pain can also be related to heart problems, such as a heart attack or reduced blood flow to the heart. Individuals with symptoms that put them at increased risk for heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, also tend to experience musculoskeletal disorders, such as joint pain and rotator cuff problems. Also, sudden and sharp shoulder pain that is not connected to any injury may be an indication of a heart attack.


What Does Shoulder Bursitis Feel Like?

Shoulder pain without injury is commonly caused by bursitis. A bursa is a cushioning pad between bones and soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments in joints. While you have bursae all over your body, shoulder bursitis is the most common type of bursitis. It occurs when excess fluid builds up in a bursa. Individuals with shoulder bursitis may experience sharp pain, dull ache, or mild tenderness.

Shoulder bursitis can be diagnosed using an x-ray, MRI, or ultrasound. Treatment includes surgical and non-surgical methods and home remedies. Surgeries remove the affected tissue, while antibiotics, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory injections can also help. Home treatments can include pain relievers, ice packs, and stretching.


Does Stress Cause Shoulder Pain?

While physical stress and repetitive aggravation of your shoulder joints and muscles will, without a doubt, cause shoulder pain, emotional stress can also lead to shoulder pains. Prolonged and increasing levels of stress, tension, and anxiety can cause inflammation throughout your body. This can cause both joint and muscle tightness.

The good news is that if your shoulder pain is caused by stress and anxiety, you can significantly relieve the discomfort by utilizing proven tools and techniques for handling stress. These treatments can include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, yoga, and exercise.

What Are Common Range of Motion Problems for the Shoulder?

In addition to a frozen shoulder and a rotator cuff tear, a wide range of other conditions can cause shoulder movement problems and make it difficult to move your arm above your shoulder.

Here are some other issues that can limit the range of motion in your shoulder.

  • Wearing a sling or other device that limits shoulder movement for a prolonged period
  • Having a thyroid condition
  • Having a cardiovascular disease or a heart attack
  • Having diabetes
  • Suffering a stroke
  • Experiencing different forms of arthritis

If you experience sudden shoulder pain without injury and symptoms include a racing heart or other cardiovascular emergency signs, you should seek medical treatment immediately.

You Can Get Treatment for Your Sudden Shoulder Pain Without Injury at Carolinas Pain Center

There are a variety of reasons you may experience shoulder pain without injury. Luckily, most common issues are treatable once you define the problem. At Carolinas Pain Center, we can assess shoulder pain, find the root causes, and offer shoulder pain treatment options.

You do not have to deal with the discomfort and limited motion caused by shoulder pain without injury. If you are experiencing chronic issues that do not resolve with common home treatments like over-the-counter pain relievers and ice packs, you should make an appointment with Carolinas Pain Center to get answers and treatment options for your shoulder issues.