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Left Shoulder Pain: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Left Shoulder Pain: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Left Shoulder Pain

Because the majority of people are right handed, doctors have more patients with pain in the right shoulder, than pain in the left shoulder. Still, even a right-handed person could experience left shoulder pain. Left shoulder pain usually occurs on account of injury or disease. Usually known as referred pain, such shoulder pain actually is a symptom of some other serious disease conditions that are sometimes life-threatening. 


  • A sudden pain in the left arm and shoulder region accompanied by tightness in chest, shortness of breath, or pain in the jaw could be a symptom of a heart attack. Such pain is also associated with nerves in the joints or spinal region.
  • Any injury to the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the shoulder joint can cause pain in the shoulder region. Disease conditions like Angina, Arthritis, Bursitis, heart attack, lung cancer, Shingles and Rotator Cuff syndrome can also cause pain in the shoulder. Other causes include Brachial Plexus Injury, Bone Tumor, Labrum Tear, Cervical Radiculopathy, Shoulder Dislocation, Fracture of the Scapula, Septic Arthritis, Sprain and Tendonitis. The rotator cuff muscles give vital support to the shoulder and any injury to these muscles cause pain in the shoulder region.
  • Sometimes, women in their reproductive or menstrual phase,mistake pain in the breast as pain in the left shoulder or chest region. Pain in one or both the breasts can be due to hormonal changes during menstrual periods, fluid retention, unnoticed injury, pregnancy, breast-feeding, bacterial infection or even breast cancer.
  • The shoulder joint is the area where the collar bones and shoulder blades are connected. Pain in this region could be due to Ankylosis, Arthralgia, Cartilage Disorders, Infection, Shoulder Joint Dislocation, Shoulder Joint Capsule Damage, Acromioclavicular Arthritis, Bicipital Tendonitis, Rotator Cuff Tendonitis, Subacromial and Subdeltoid Bursitis. There are 4 common problems associated with shoulder pain: instability, subluxation, overuse, and arthritis degeneration.  Instability is a condition where the joint is completely out of position and subluxation is partial dislocation.
  • Ankylosisis an abnormal shoulder joint immobility with specific joint restricted movement due to cartilage destructions as in case of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Though Cartilage problems usually affect the knee joint they can affect other joints as well. Shoulder Joint Dislocation is a condition where the ball and socket joint –muscle opposition interaction is lost.
  • Acromioclavicular Arthritis is a shoulder joint pain is suggestive of arthritis in the acromion and calvicular joint. In this condition, pain is aggravated with movement of the shoulders.
  • Rotator Cuff Tendonitis is a shoulder joint pain that starts in the rotator cuff and often leads to a frozen shoulder. In Subacromial and Subdeltoid Bursitis, shoulder joint pain is greatly aggravated when the arm is raised overhead.
  • A person who has enjoyed what seemed to be a restful sleep can awake with left shoulder pain. If that person happens to be right-handed, he or she might well feel confused. Actually, the simple act of rolling over in bed can cause a cuff injury, an injury to one or more of the four muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder blade. An injury to the rotator cuff on the left side of the body could cause left shoulder pain. The wrong sort of movement in the bed can cause more than one medical related problem.



To summarize, most shoulder pain problems revolve around the soft tissues, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, instead of just bones. Shoulder pain may be localized or pain in left shoulder may be even referred pain from other regions of the body due to various disease conditions like heart attack.