Shoulder Pain When Breathing

by Garreth Myers


Shoulder pain is one of the leading physical ailments in the modern world. Moreover, shoulder pain is the common complaint of people who work long hours sitting in front of the computer. Shoulder pain when breathing could be due to a physical injury such as a dislocated shoulder or a disease. In fact, breathing with a dislocated shoulder can be extremely painful. People suffering from arthritis and aggravated shoulder joints may also experience left shoulder blade pain when breathing. The severe pain in the right shoulder could be due to a sprain or a ligament injury in the shoulder.

Causes of shoulder pain

However, there are many other causes of shoulder pain. These include the following:

  • Gallbladder disease or gallstones: Gallbladder pain can also manifest itself through shoulder pain. The pain usually occurs below the right shoulder blade or between the blades.
  • Cervical radiculopathy: A trauma to the cervical spinal can cause pain in the shoulder along with weakness and numbness.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This painful condition, an autoimmune disorder, damages the synovial membrane (lining of the joint) and weakens the cartilage, ligaments and tendons.
  • Shoulder osteoarthritis: The condition, a degenerative joint disease, generally affects people over the age of 50. However, shoulder osteoarthritis can be caused by injury or dislocation in the younger people.
  • Shoulder dislocation: The shoulder dislocation can either be partial or complete. A partial dislocation or subluxation can occur when the head of the upper arm bone moves partially out of the socket. A complete shoulder dislocation is when the head moves completely out of the socket. The condition mostly occurs after an injury and can be extremely painful.
  • Rotator cuff tears: Rotator cuff tear is one of the prevalent causes of distress in the adults in the United States. The tear damages the shoulder and hampers movement.
  • Rotator cuff disease (tendonitis and bursitis): The inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder is called tendonitis. Bursitis is the inflammation of the fluid filled sac or pouch that guards the shoulder joint. Both the conditions can be painful and restricting.
  • Frozen shoulder: The condition also called as adhesive capsulitis restricts the movement of the shoulder joint and can occur without any clear causes. However, age, gender, shoulder injury and endocrine disorders may be the risk factors.
  • Fracture: A fracture can be caused by an injury such as blow, accident, sports injury, or a fall and is associated with excruciating pain.
  • Joint instability: The condition is caused mainly by high impact injuries and could lead to partial or complete dislocation of the shoulder.
  • Incorrect posture: This is a common complaint with people working long hours. The prolonged sitting compromises posture and puts pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles, resulting in pain and discomfort.
  • Liver abscesses: The accumulation of pus in the liver causes massive infection and results in the pain below the shoulder blade.
  • Lung disorders: Shoulder pain could be a symptom of serious lung disease such as cancer.
  • Pleurisy: The condition causes inflammation in the chest and the lungs, and in some cases, the pain can be felt in the shoulder.

Some other causes of shoulder pain may include liver cancer, esophageal cancer, heart disease, and pancreatic disorders.

Pain in the shoulder while breathing treatment

The treatment for pain in the shoulder while breathing should begin with a detailed physical investigation by an orthopedist or a qualified specialist to find the precise cause of the pain. The pain while breathing could be due to any of the conditions mentioned above. The underlying cause of the treatment has to be treated first to cure the ailment permanently.

The diagnosis of the exact cause may involve physical tests such as X-rays, blood tests, ECG, CT scan and an MRI. The treatment may include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, cortisone injections, ice packs, heat application, and yoga. Surgery may be advised in more serious cases.


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