Symptoms A-Z

Mild Shoulder Pain Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand mild shoulder pain symptoms, including 6 causes & common questions.

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6 Possible Mild Shoulder Pain Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced mild shoulder pain. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Rotator cuff tendonitis

The rotator cuff is an arrangement of muscles and tendons that holds the head of the upper arm bone within the shoulder socket. Rotator cuff tendinitis is the resulting condition when these muscles and tendons become inflamed or damaged.

The dominant symptom is a na...

Shoulder bruise

A shoulder bruise, or contusion, means that the shoulder has been struck hard enough to damage the muscles without breaking the skin. This leaves a blue or purple mark in the skin that may be very sore.

A shoulder is most often bruised through a sports injury, such as blocking a player in a football game or falling from a horse. Using a rifle or shotgun can bruise the shoulder through the recoil.

A bruise may not seem serious, but it still needs proper care. It is possible for the bruise to mask a deeper injury such as a sprain, strain, or fracture. Complications such as compartment syndrome are possible, where trapped fluids from the damaged muscle tissues build up intense pressure and cause severe damage.

A medical provider can make an accurate diagnosis through physical examination and through imaging such as x-ray or CT scan.

Treatment for a shoulder contusion involves wearing a sling to take some pressure off of the shoulder joints; ice packs; and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and swelling.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: constant shoulder pain, pain in one shoulder, shoulder pain from an injury, shoulder injury, swelling of one shoulder

Symptoms that always occur with shoulder bruise: shoulder pain from an injury, shoulder injury, constant shoulder pain

Urgency: Self-treatment

Shoulder strain

Shoulder strain means that the muscles and/or the tendons in the shoulder have been overstretched to the point of damage and sometimes partial tearing. (A "sprain" means that ligaments have been damaged.)

Because of its wide range of motion, the shoulder is a relatively unstable joint that is vulnerable to injury. A sudden overloading, especially after long periods of overuse, can finally cause some degree of tearing to the muscle fibers and/or the tendons.

Shoulder strains are most often sports injuries, or are caused by strenuous physical labor.

Symptoms include sudden sharp pain followed by swelling, bruising, and ongoing tenderness.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and sometimes ultrasound.

Treatment involves a short period of rest, followed by gradually increasing exercise to regain strength and prevent stiffness and weakness of the muscles and tendons. Physical therapy will be tailored to the individual and some skills, such as for sports, may need to be relearned. Improving posture while sitting, and adjusting techniques for work and sports, can help prevent recurrence of the strain.

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

Mild Shoulder Pain Symptom Checker

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Repetitive strain injury of the shoulder ("swimmer's shoulder")

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

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

Shoulder arthritis

Shoulder arthritis is inflammation of the shoulder joint, where the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the shoulder blade (scapula) and collarbone (clavicle). This inflammation can be caused by osteoarthritis or "wear-and-tear," injury to the shoulder joints, rotator cuff injuries, or r...

Biceps tendonitis

Biceps tendonitis is a painful inflammation of the tendon connecting the biceps muscle to the bones of the shoulder. Biceps tendonitis is usually caused by overuse, especially repetitive throwing-type motions of the arm. It can also be caused by pre-existing shoulder injuries, sudden f...

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Mild Shoulder Pain

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • How would you explain the cause of your shoulder pain?
  • Can you fully move your shoulders around?
  • Where exactly is your shoulder pain?
  • Did you just suffer from a high impact injury (e.g., a fall, collision, accident or sports trauma)?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your mild shoulder pain

Mild Shoulder Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced mild shoulder pain have also experienced:

  • 12% Rib Pain On One Side
  • 9% Chest Pain
  • 5% Racing Heart Beat

People who have experienced mild shoulder pain were most often matched with:

  • 50% Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
  • 33% Shoulder Strain
  • 16% Shoulder Bruise

People who have experienced mild shoulder pain had symptoms persist for:

  • 36% Over a month
  • 23% Less than a week
  • 19% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Mild Shoulder Pain Symptom Checker

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Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.