How Shoulder Pain and Fibromyalgia are Related

By Andrew McVagh

Shoulder pain is really just pain in the joints and muscles in the shoulder area that may or may not limit what your arm can due.

Much of this pain originates in the tissues and bones in the shoulder, and you might also only feel the pain in the middle of a physical activity or when you move your arms.  Other times you might feel pain in your shoulder nonstop.

There are multiple questions you probably have if you suffer from shoulder pain, one of which is if there is any relation between fibromyalgia and shoulder pain.  But in order to understand this correlation, it’s also critically important to understand what the causes of shoulder pain are what it is exactly.

 

The Causes of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder consists of three different bones. The upper arm bone, the shoulder blade, and the collar bone.  The arm bone sits in a socket in your shoulder blade, and the muscles and tendons ensue that the arm is secure in this socket. When we feel pain in our shoulder(s), it is usually due to inflammation or a tear in the tendons, arthritis, nerve damage, an infection, a fracture, or a broken bone.

Tendons are the cords that hold our muscles to our bones, but just like nearly anything else, they can and do wear down over time. People who are regularly involved in physical activity will see that their tendons will wear down much faster than people who don’t.

As our tendons wear down, it is much more likely for them to be torn or suffer injury.  This injury can develop over time or can happen all of a sudden, and if they are bad, the tendon can be completely split.

Something else that can cause shoulder pain is when the shoulder blade puts pressure on the tissues. When the arm lifts or is involved in any physical activity, the tissues rub against the top of the shoulder blade, which can in turn contribute to pain in the tendons as well.  This type of pain is especially painful and severely limits what movement you can do in your arm.

For example, maybe you enjoy playing baseball and regularly lift and move your arm by pitching the ball above your head.  This type of injury here, known as shoulder impingement, will eliminate your ability to perform that type of motion all together.

One of the most common reasons behind shoulder pain is arthritis, and there are many variations of it as well. The reason why there are very many different types of arthritis is because it can occur at various parts of the body.

The type of arthritis that happens in the shoulder is called osteoarthritis, and common symptoms of it include pain and stiffness in the shoulder and swelling.

If you are displaying the symptoms of osteoarthritis, you should have it looked at immediately, since the pain will only worsen the longer it goes on without any substantial treatment.  Osteoarthritis usually occurs in people who are middle aged, and is due to a variety of different factors including inflammation in the joints, infection, trauma, or sports.

The most common reaction with people who have osteoarthritis is to not move their shoulder in order to lessen the pain, but this will really on make things worse since it will result in further stiffening of the shoulder.

The last major cause of shoulder pain that we are going to talk about is a fracture. A fracture is when bones in the body are broken, so common broken bones that can cause shoulder pain are the collarbone, shoulder blade, and upper arm bone.

Shoulder fractures and broken bones almost always are the result of physical trauma, such as suffering a sports injury, falling down, or being involved in an accident.

A fracture will lead to severe swelling in the affected area and cause intense pain.  If you have suffered a fracture, you should secure medical attention from your doctor as soon as you can.  Your doctor will give you a list of treatment options and officially diagnose where the fracture has occurred.

Fibromyalgia and Shoulder Pain

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Fibromyalgia is one of the great mysteries of the medical world, as we still do not yet know all of the causes of it or even how it happens. It is estimated that between five to ten million Americans alone suffer from fibromyalgia, the overwhelming majority of them women.  Fibromyalgia is also believed to run in the family, as people with a family history of fibromyalgia are far more likely to develop it themselves.  In addition, middle aged women are the most likely to develop fibromyalgia, but it has been known to occur in young adults, teenagers, and even young children too.

The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is a combination of muscle pain and fatigue. This pain and fatigue will have to be enough to greatly limit what the sufferer is able to accomplish in a day, as many fibromyalgia patients are reduced to laying down in bed for much of the day.  The muscle pain usually occurs in the neck, back, chest, rib cage, thighs, and the shoulders, and will worsen over time.

There are eighteen pressure points throughout the body, and it takes a person to feel pain in eleven of these pressure points to be officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia. A couple of these pressure points are located in the shoulders.  If you feel pain in your shoulders, there are two options as to how it is related with fibromyalgia: 1. You aren’t feeling pain in any or very many of the other tender points, so you don’t have fibromyalgia and the pain is due to the causes that we have already discussed, or 2. You are feeling pain in the other pressure points in addition to your shoulder, so the shoulder pain you feel could be a part of fibromyalgia.

 

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