Read below about shoulder weakness, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your shoulder weakness 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 Shoulder Weakness

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

  1. 1.Brachial Plexopathy (Shoulder Nerve Issue)

    The brachial plexus is a complex nerve network located in the upper chest and shoulder region. Nerves can be explained as 'electric wires' of the body, passing through signals from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that lies deep to the collar bone, which supplies the shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand. When this bundle of nerves is (partially) damaged, one speaks of a 'plexopathy'. Several causes of damage can be injury or forceful trauma, inflammation or infection. A commonly known cause is sports injury in contact sports like football and rugby. Symptoms can include pain, burning, numbness and weakness in the shoulder and arm on one side, sometimes shooting through the arm to the hand. An acute (sports) injury that causes this condition is often called 'burners' or 'stingers' because of the burning and stinging type of pain. When the cause is inflammation of the nerves, it is often called the Parsonage-Turner syndrome.

    The severity of this condition is highly variable, and dependent on the amount of damage caused to the nerves. Brachial plexus injury following surgery usually has a good prognosis. Recovery times range from 2 weeks to 2 years.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one arm, shoulder pain that shoots to the arm, arm weakness, numbness in one arm, shoulder pain
    Symptoms that never occur with brachial plexopathy (shoulder nerve issue):
    pain in the front middle part of the neck
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Limb - Girdle Muscular Dystrophy

    Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy is an inherited disorder that involves varying muscle weakness and wasting.

    This genetic disorder is considered irreversible, but symptoms can be effectively managed with treatment

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    muscle aches, weakness, arm weakness, leg weakness, shoulder weakness
    Symptoms that always occur with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy:
    weakness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  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
  4. 4.Biceps Tendon Rupture

    The biceps is the muscle in the front of the upper arm. Its main action is to flex the arm. The biceps muscle collects in a tendon that inserts into the radius (one of the bones of the forearm). Sometimes, if lifting something heavy or rapidly putting weight on the arm, the biceps tendon may pull away from the bone. Biceps tendon ruptures are classified as either partial or complete ruptures, depending on if the tendon pulled away only somewhat, or completely.

    Full recovery within weeks to months after surgery, with no lasting deficits.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    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 tendon rupture:
    pain in the front of the shoulder, pain in one shoulder
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.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 Shoulder Weakness

  • Q.Have any of your muscles gotten much smaller (wasted away)?
  • Q.Does your pain continue into the night?
  • Q.Have someone push down on your arm as you hold it out. Can you resist? (This is known as the axillary nerve test.)
  • Q.How would you explain the cause of your shoulder pain?

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

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Shoulder Weakness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced shoulder weakness have also experienced:

    • 15% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 13% Upper Arm Weakness
    • 9% Hand Weakness
  • People who have experienced shoulder weakness had symptoms persist for:

    • 45% Over a Month
    • 17% Less Than a Week
    • 16% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced shoulder weakness were most often matched with:

    • 42% Brachial Plexopathy (Shoulder Nerve Issue)
    • 42% Limb - Girdle Muscular Dystrophy
    • 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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