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Shoulder pain: symptoms, causes & relief

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Shoulder pain is no fun, to say the least. It can leave you in pain doing the most basic daily activities. Walking the dog? Ouch. Stirring a pot of soup? Wince-inducing. Lying down for a nap? A painful proposition. Getting to the bottom of your shoulder pain symptoms and what is causing them will put you on the path to regaining your joy of movement.

Shoulder pain is typically caused by an injury to the muscles, nerves, or tendons that surround the shoulder joint – or the joint itself. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. It gets its mobility from the rotator cuff – a group of four tendons that connect surrounding muscles to the shoulder bones. Shoulder pain can affect anyone. And when it does, it can be quite painful and disruptive to everyday activities.

Shoulder pain symptoms

Shoulder pain symptoms may seem fairly straight forward if you’re experiencing them. After all, your shoulder hurts! What could be clearer than that? However, different shoulder pain symptoms can indicate different shoulder ailments.

Shoulder pain symptoms include:1

  • Discomfort, pain in the shoulder joint, in the back or the front of the shoulder
  • Reduced movement in your shoulder
  • Pain that intensifies when you’re using your arm or shoulder
  • Tingling numbness or weakness
  • Sudden, severe shoulder pain
  • Pain on the top of the shoulder near where the collarbone and shoulder bone meet

Common causes of acute shoulder pain

There are many causes of shoulder pain, including:2

  • Tendonitis - Tendons are the cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone. Sometimes they can become inflamed. For example, excessive ball throwing or other overhead activities during work or sport can lead to acute tendinitis.
  • Tendon tears or inflammation - Tendon tears can be either partial or complete. Tendon inflammation from sprains or strains is a common cause of shoulder pain.
  • Shoulder instability - This occurs when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket. This can happen as a result of a sudden injury.
Image showing the anatomy of a shoulder joint
Man with a medical professional moving his shoulder

Shoulder pain diagnosis and seeing the doctor

If you’ve experienced an injury from playing sports or have a muscle strain and are trying to tackle your shoulder pain at home, but it hasn’t shown any improvement , consult your doctor. For example, if you try using Voltaren for acute pain but your pain hasn't improved (or gets worse!) in 7 days, you should see your doctor to make sure there isn't another underlying cause of the pain.

Woman using Voltaren pain relief gel to relieve shoulder pain

Shoulder pain relief The good news is that there are a number of shoulder pain relief options available to you. They range from medications resting your shoulder. We'll take you through over the counter treatments and explain where Voltaren products can fit in3. Click below to explore the various treatments and remedies available to you.


Treatments and remedies

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Explore Voltaren’s products for pain relief

Voltaren Emulgel Back & Muscle Pain


Voltaren Emulgel Back & Muscle Pain relieves pain and reduces inflammation. It brings local relief for pain and swelling (inflammation) in the back & muscle.

Voltaren Emulgel Back & Muscle Pain with a No Mess Applicator


Voltaren Emulgel Back & Muscle Pain with a No Mess applicator delivers pain relief with the additional benefit of a No Mess Applicator. This applicator allows easy, clean application of the gel directly on the painful area.

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Health, wellness & your pain

Pain is rarely just physical nor is it always solved by taking medicine alone. Voltaren is your ally in helping you take more control of your pain journey, from the way to sleep, to what you eat, mental wellbeing and complementary pain relief therapies.