The 10 Must-Know Myths & Facts About Shoulder Pain


Contributed by: Rachana Arya


Decoding shoulder pain

If you are among the countless people suffering from shoulder pain, only you know how debilitating the condition can be. That piercing agony caused by the smallest external rotation of the shoulder is so aggravating; you are willing to do almost anything to reduce the pain. Shoulder pain can make a simple act — brushing and drying your hair, dressing, or reaching for something overhead — seem like a monumental task. Besides the physical toll, the pain can also wreak havoc with the mind and lifestyle. 

Despite being the third most common musculoskeletal condition, there are several misconceptions surrounding the pain. Ironically, the pain elicits a lot of fear among shoulder pain sufferers. Sometimes, those fears are fanned by false beliefs which can deter people from seeking effective treatment. Hence, it is necessary to understand the facts about shoulder pain so you can get back to your daily life and doing the things you enjoy.

Read on to learn about the truth behind some common myths about shoulder pain and ways to address the symptoms effectively and seek appropriate treatment.


Myth #1: It’s nothing serious and the pain will eventually go away by itself


This statement is simply not true. So sitting back and “letting it go by itself” may not be the best option. The feeling of instability and the popping or grinding sounds should never be ignored. It is important to work on releasing the muscles around the shoulder and strengthen the rotator cuff muscles.


Myth #2: Shoulder separation and shoulder dislocation are the same things


Although they sound similar, they are actually very different conditions. The distinction between the two begins with the injury’s location in the shoulder. A shoulder separation occurs at the top of the shoulder, generating a bump in the affected area, whereas a shoulder dislocation occurs when the shoulder joint separates. Separated shoulders are usually less serious injuries than dislocated shoulders.


Myth #3; Shoulder pain automatically indicates osteoarthritis


Contrary to common perception, shoulder pain does not necessarily indicate arthritis. Common shoulder disorders such as fibromyalgia, tendinitis, and bursitis, exhibit similar clinical symptoms and lead to shoulder pain.


Myth #4: Only people with an active lifestyle develop shoulder pain


While it is true that physically intensive jobs cause shoulder pain and injuries. However, even those with a regular lifestyle are not immune to the condition. In fact, those who live a sedentary lifestyle are at a high risk of developing shoulder pain.


Myth #5: Shoulder pain becomes worse during the rainy season


Although many patients notice a clear connection; and most are convinced of the link, but this is not true. There is no conclusive evidence to establish a clear link between rainy days and more aches and pains in the shoulders.


Myth #6: Shoulder pain is forever


This is a very common myth among people which can greatly undermine the confidence of patients. Shoulder injuries are not permanent and can be easily cured or managed by advanced treatments.


Myth #7: Exercise can make the shoulder pain worse


If anyone is suffering from shoulder pain, it is important to strictly refrain from strenuous exercises. Vigorous exercises like weight lifting can aggravate shoulder pain and cause complications. Therefore, consulting a trained and qualified professional trainer before indulging in heavy exercises is essential. A skilled physiotherapist can prescribe the most suitable exercises as per the severity of the pain.


Myth #8: Heat is better than ice for shoulder pain


This is also a popular misconception. In reality, both ice and heat therapy can be useful in reducing pain and inflammation. Many people can benefit from using ice packs to their sore shoulders at night to lessen the day’s inflammation and applying heat in the morning to help relax stiff muscles. If ice and heat aren’t working to relieve shoulder pain and inflammation, it is recommended to see an orthopedic.


Myth #9: Shoulder pain will go away with rest


Sometimes it is necessary to rest your shoulder, especially if a particular movement is aggravating your pain. However resting the shoulder altogether can cause strain on the muscles and the tissues, making the movement of the shoulder difficult and painful.


Myth #10: Shoulder pain is no cause of concern


This is one of the biggest myths about shoulder pain. Most shoulder problems are relatively short-lived and often improve or go away, though it may take months. However, the pain that occurs with every activity is indicative of a more complex issue.


Bottom line

Your shoulders have to ‘shoulder’ a lot of work in a day. If you have shoulder pain that is not caused by any physical trauma, do not self-diagnose – see a GP to investigate and identify the exact cause of the condition or injury causing the pain. If the pain does not improve with non-surgical conservative management even after 4 weeks, or you are experiencing weakness or have trouble lifting above shoulder level, you should consult one of our surgeons.


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