Causes & Treatments of Right Shoulder Pain

Pain in the right shoulder can be a real nuisance and ranges from being purely an aggravation, to being an indication of a more serious complication. As we have outlined on other pages, pain between the shoulder blades┬áis often an indication of simple problems such as a muscle imbalance, postural issues or osteoarthritis. Left shoulder pain, by comparison, can also be indicative of similar ┬áissues, however it needs to be taken seriously as it can also be symptomatic of a heart attack. It is likely however that you would have many other signs and symptoms of having a heart attack, so don’t worry unnecessarily if you’ve just got some minor pain in your left shoulder.

Front view of the right-shoulder joint. Image Credit: Encyclopaedia Britannica

Front view of the right-shoulder joint. Image Credit: Encyclopaedia Britannica

If you are having sharp pain in your right shoulder particularly after playing sports, taking strenuous exercise or doing heavy household chores then it is possible that you have sprained, strained or even dislocated your right shoulder. An injury of this nature is likely to come on all of a sudden, and you will be suffering intense pain. A sprain occurs when you overstretch a muscle and it goes past the point where it should on a normal day to day basis. One step further than a sprain is a strain, and this is where you have torn the muscle that you have overstretched. Again this would cause severe pain, and the old RICE cure (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) is a good treatment to begin with. If you get this applied as quickly as possible it will greatly speed up the healing process. Obviously seeking medical attention would be recommended to ensure that the treatment is the best one, and that no other more serious damage has occurred.

Another relatively minor (although still painful) cause of recurrent right shoulder tenderness and pain is shoulder osteo-arthritis. Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease, mainly caused simply by wear and tear over time. Cartilage separates the bones within a joint, and over time this degrades and wears away, leaving bone to contact with other bone. In terms of the shoulder, you experience pain when your right clavicle (collarbone) is contacting the edge of your shoulder blade (scapula). Pain in your right shoulder from osteoarthritis is unfortunately common for the over-55s, however an injury or illness may advance the onset in younger individuals.

More Serious Causes of Right Shoulder Pain

Although the most common causes of pain in your right shoulder have been outlined above, there are also some very serious issues that shouldn’t be dismissed. As I’ve mentioned before, any type of severe pain needs to be investigated, so please don’t just rely on a self-diagnosis or start your own treatment. Getting proper medical attention will ensure that nothing is missed, and that you are treated effectively to help alleviate your pain.

Gallstone Pain

Your gallbladder is a small organ that assists in the digestion of fat, and gallstones are small solid deposits that can accumulate within the gallbladder. When these do so they can get lodged in the cystic or the bile duct, causing you cramping pains ranging from consistent and mild, to intense cramps. The pain can radiate to the upper back and right shoulder. An X-ray or ultrasound will be used to properly diagnose these, and minor surgery may be necessary to remove the stone. Your shoulder pain will be alleviated quickly after removal.

Liver Abscesses

Your liver is located on your right side and sometimes a painful abscess can form. The most common cause of liver abscesses are bacterial, and there are many features such as fever, lethargy, pain in the abdomen, and pain in the upper right part of your back / shoulders. As the cause of this type of abscess is bacterial, the most appropriate treatment is often a course of antibiotics, such as penicillin for example. In some cases a doctor may need to drain the abscess to remove extra fluid.

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