Shoulder and elbow pain

What is shoulder and elbow pain?

Shoulder and elbow pain can emanate from the shoulder or elbow joint themselves, or from their surrounding muscles. In cases where shoulder and elbow pain comes from the joint, the condition can get worse when movements which involve the repetitive movement of the shoulder or arm are performed.

Symptoms of shoulder and elbow pain can include a sharp pain or dull ache, restricted movement and inflammation.

What causes shoulder and elbow pain?

There are several potential causes of shoulder pain. It could arise because of a direct injury to the shoulder, or to another part of the body, such as the biceps or neck (known as referred pain). Rotator cuff tendinitis is a condition which is another common cause – it involves the catching of the rotator cuff between the humeral head and the acromion. Shoulder pain can also be caused by a torn rotator cuff, torn cartilage, arthritis, bone spurs and a pinched nerve, as well as more serious conditions such as a heart attack.

Elbow pain can be caused by injuries such as a broken and dislocated elbow, as well as bursitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, stress fractures, sprains and trapped nerves.

Treatment options for shoulder and elbow pain


Depending on the cause of a specific case of shoulder or elbow pain, acupuncture can be an effective treatment. Acupuncture has the ability to improve blood circulation in the shoulder or elbow areas, easing muscle tension, alleviating pain, and helping to heal problems relating to connective tissue.


Using manipulations of the muscle groups in the shoulder or elbow areas. Both joints can enjoy better mobility thanks to the movements performed by osteopaths, and soft tissues can be loosened up, reducing stiffness and alleviating pain in the process.


Physical exercises can help to stretch the muscles around the elbow and shoulder joints, easing muscle tension. A tailored strengthening programme provided by a physiotherapist can help with long term recovery and – depending on the nature of the shoulder or elbow condition – serve to prevent similar problems from surfacing in the future.