Read below about dull, achy shoulder pain, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your dull, achy shoulder pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Dull, Achy Shoulder Pain

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced dull, achy shoulder pain. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

    Impingement syndrome is a common shoulder condition seen in aging adults. The tendons of rotator cuff muscles, whose action is to rotate the arm such such as during a tennis swing, pass in a narrow space between two bones in the shoulder. When the space becomes too narrow, which can happen as a result of an overuse injury, pain may develop as the tendons rub against the bones.

    Impingement may take weeks to months to settle.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, dull, achy shoulder pain, shoulder pain that gets worse at night, difficulty moving the shoulder, shoulder pain from overuse
    Symptoms that always occur with rotator cuff tendonitis:
    pain in one shoulder
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Pinched Nerve in the Neck

    With age, disks separating the cervical vertebrae (which are the bones of your spine in your neck) lose height as well as lose water content, becoming stiffer. The vertebrae move closer together, and nerves that exit between these bones may be pinched, causing pain to travel down the nerve as it passes through the arm. The pain is usually sharp, and some people report a "pins and needles" sensation or even complete numbness.

    Majority of patients get better with time (weeks to months).

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain that radiates down arm, pain in the back of the neck, severe shoulder pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Repetitive Strain Injury of the Shoulder ("Swimmer's Shoulder")

    Repetitive strain injury of the shoulder is caused by consistent repetitive use.

    Resolves with rest

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    shoulder pain from overuse, shoulder weakness, shoulder numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with repetitive strain injury of the shoulder ("swimmer's shoulder"):
    shoulder pain from overuse
    Symptoms that never occur with repetitive strain injury of the shoulder ("swimmer's shoulder"):
    severe shoulder pain, shoulder injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  4. 4.Shoulder Strain

    Shoulder strain, also known as a muscle pull, is a common occurrence attributed to a damaged muscle and often is the result of heavy lifting or sports.

    With proper medical attention, this condition should fully resolve.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, pain in the front of the shoulder, shoulder pain from overuse, shoulder pain from an injury, sports injury
    Symptoms that always occur with shoulder strain:
    pain in one shoulder
    Symptoms that never occur with shoulder strain:
    arm weakness, arm numbness
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  5. 5.Non - Specific Shoulder Pain

    The shoulder is made up of many ligaments and several bones. Shoulder pain is often not identifiable because of how complicated a joint it is.

    1-2 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    shoulder pain
    Symptoms that always occur with non-specific shoulder pain:
    shoulder pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Biceps Tendonitis

    The biceps is the muscle in the front of the upper arm. Its main action is to flex the arm. The beginning of the muscle is a tendon that passes in front of the shoulder. Problems with the tendon can arise due to impingement (where the tendon gets compressed by surrounding structures) or inflammation due to overuse of the shoulder. People with this condition experience a deep, throbbing ache in the front of the shoulder.

    Recover on its own within weeks to months.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, pain in the front of the shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, dull, achy shoulder pain, shoulder pain that gets worse at night
    Symptoms that always occur with biceps tendonitis:
    pain in the front of the shoulder
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Rotator Cuff Tear

    The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury (tear) can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often worsens when sleeping on the involved side.

    Outlook varies depending on the severity of the tear, but condition may likely last for months to years.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, dull, achy shoulder pain, difficulty moving the shoulder, pain in the outside of the shoulder
    Symptoms that always occur with rotator cuff tear:
    shoulder pain from an injury, pain in one shoulder, shoulder pain from overuse
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dull, Achy Shoulder Pain

  • Q.How would you explain the cause of your shoulder pain?
  • Q.Can you fully move your shoulders around?
  • Q.Where exactly is your shoulder pain?
  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our dull, achy shoulder pain symptom checker to find out more.

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Dull, Achy Shoulder Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced dull, achy shoulder pain have also experienced:

    • 22% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 5% Shoulder Pain
    • 4% Grinding Sensation in Shoulder
  • People who have experienced dull, achy shoulder pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 36% Over a Month
    • 23% Less Than a Week
    • 19% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced dull, achy shoulder pain were most often matched with:

    • 42% Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
    • 42% Pinched Nerve in the Neck
    • 14% Repetitive Strain Injury of the Shoulder ("Swimmer's Shoulder")
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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