24 May 2024
Learn about the common causes of shoulder injuries, from overuse to trauma. Find out how to prevent and treat these injuries for a pain-free sleep and healthier shoulder.

If you’ve ever woken up with a sore and achy shoulder, you’re not alone. Shoulder injuries can be a common source of discomfort, and they can happen even while you’re sleeping. From sleeping in an awkward position to overusing your shoulder during the day, there are various factors that can contribute to shoulder injuries. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of shoulder injuries, helping you understand how to prevent and treat them for a pain-free sleep and a healthier shoulder. So, if you’ve been wondering why your shoulder feels sore in the morning, keep reading to find out more.

Common Causes of Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are a common ailment that many people face at some point in their lives. Whether it’s due to overuse, trauma, or other factors, shoulder injuries can be painful and limit your range of motion. In this article, we will explore some of the most common causes of shoulder injuries and provide insight into each category. By understanding the causes, you can take the necessary precautions to prevent future injuries and maintain a healthy shoulder.

Common Causes of Shoulder Injuries

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries occur when the shoulder joint is subjected to repetitive movements, stretching, or stress over an extended period. This can lead to inflammation, muscle imbalances, and impingement, causing pain and discomfort. There are several specific overuse injuries that commonly affect the shoulder:

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Rotator cuff tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons that surround the shoulder joint. This inflammation can cause severe pain and limit your ability to lift and rotate your arm. It often occurs due to repetitive overhead movements, such as throwing a ball, lifting weights, or painting.


Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning between bones, tendons, and muscles. Bursitis occurs when these bursae become inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Repetitive overhead movements or direct trauma to the shoulder can lead to bursitis.

Impingement Syndrome

Impingement syndrome is a condition where the rotator cuff tendons become compressed between the acromion (a bony prominence on the shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). This can occur due to poor posture, repetitive overhead movements, or structural abnormalities in the shoulder joint.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. It often occurs when the shoulder is immobilized for an extended period, such as after surgery or injury. Lack of movement leads to the formation of adhesions that restrict shoulder mobility.

Repetitive Motion

Repetitive motion injuries result from performing the same movement or activity repeatedly, causing strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the shoulder. These injuries are commonly associated with occupations or hobbies that involve repetitive movements, such as typing, assembly line work, or playing musical instruments. Some specific repetitive motion injuries that can affect the shoulder include:

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a broad term used to describe various musculoskeletal disorders resulting from performing repetitive, forceful, or awkward movements. RSI can lead to conditions like tendonitis, bursitis, or even nerve compression. Prolonged periods of repetitive motion without sufficient rest and recovery can significantly increase the risk of RSI in the shoulder.


Tendonitis refers to the inflammation of a tendon, which is a thick cord of tissue connecting muscles to bones. In the shoulder, various tendons can become inflamed due to repetitive activities, leading to pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Common types of tendonitis include supraspinatus tendonitis, biceps tendonitis, and subscapularis tendonitis.

Common Causes of Shoulder Injuries

Poor Posture

Poor posture is a prevalent cause of shoulder injuries, often resulting from habits like slouching, hunching, or maintaining an incorrect sitting or standing position. Poor posture places additional stress on the shoulders, causing muscle imbalances and increasing the risk of injury. Some common poor posture habits that can contribute to shoulder injuries include:

Forward Head Posture

Forward head posture occurs when the head juts forward relative to the shoulders, placing strain on the neck and shoulder muscles. This can lead to chronic pain, tension headaches, and shoulder discomfort.

Round Shoulders

Round shoulders refer to rounded and drooping shoulders, often caused by slouching or hunching forward. This poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances, increased stress on the shoulder joint, and the development of shoulder pain.


Hunching involves a forward curvature of the upper back, causing the shoulders to roll forward. This posture puts excessive pressure on the shoulder joints and can lead to muscle imbalances and shoulder pain.

Slouched or Rolled Shoulders

Slouched or rolled shoulders occur when the shoulders are positioned forward and downward, creating a rounded appearance. This posture can strain the muscles and ligaments in the shoulder, leading to discomfort and limited range of motion.

Age-related Wear and Tear

As we age, the wear and tear on our joints and tissues can lead to various shoulder ailments. This natural degeneration can contribute to the onset of pain, stiffness, and functional limitations. Some age-related conditions that commonly affect the shoulder include:


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the gradual breakdown of cartilage, the cushioning tissue between bones. When the shoulder joint’s cartilage wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Degenerative Joint Disease

Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), also known as osteoarthritis, is the most common form of arthritis that affects the shoulder joint. DJD causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joint due to the progressive deterioration and loss of cartilage.

Common Causes of Shoulder Injuries


Traumatic shoulder injuries occur as a result of sudden impact or external forces applied to the shoulder. These injuries can range from mild sprains to severe fractures and dislocations. Some common traumatic shoulder injuries include:


Shoulder fractures involve a broken bone within the shoulder joint or the surrounding area. Fractures can result from falls, sports injuries, or accidents, causing immediate pain, swelling, and restricted movement.


Shoulder dislocations occur when the upper arm bone pops out of its socket, either partially or completely. This injury can cause intense pain, instability, and limited range of motion. Dislocations often happen during high-impact activities, such as contact sports or falls.

Muscle Strains

Muscle strains are injuries that occur when muscle fibers stretch or tear due to excessive force or overexertion. In the shoulder, muscle strains can happen during activities that involve sudden, forceful movements, leading to localized pain, swelling, and weakness.

Ligament Sprains

Ligament sprains involve stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the shoulder joint. These sprains can result from sudden movements, falls, or excessive force applied to the shoulder. Symptoms include pain, instability, and difficulty with movement.

Sports Injuries

Sports-related shoulder injuries are common among athletes and active individuals who participate in high-impact or repetitive motion sports. These injuries can occur due to sudden impact, overexertion, or incorrect technique. Some common sports injuries affecting the shoulder include:

Sudden Impact or Collision

Sports that involve contact, such as football, rugby, or martial arts, can lead to sudden impacts or collisions that cause shoulder injuries. These injuries can range from minor bruises to more severe fractures or dislocations.


Overexertion injuries occur when the shoulder muscles, tendons, or ligaments become fatigued and overstressed due to repetitive or excessive activity. Activities like swimming, tennis, or weightlifting can increase the risk of overexertion injuries if proper rest and recovery periods are not observed.

Incorrect Technique

Using incorrect technique while playing sports, such as tennis, golf, or baseball, can put excessive strain on the shoulder joint and its supporting structures. This can result in overuse injuries, rotator cuff tears, or impingement syndrome.


Weightlifting, particularly when performed improperly or with excessive weight, can significantly strain the shoulder joints and surrounding muscles. Some common weightlifting-related shoulder injuries include:

Repetitive Heavy Lifting

Repetitively lifting heavy weights without adequate rest and recovery time can place excessive stress on the shoulder joint. This can lead to overuse injuries, such as rotator cuff tendonitis or impingement syndrome.

Improper Lifting Technique

Using incorrect lifting technique, such as arching the back or lifting with the shoulders instead of the legs, can lead to shoulder injuries. Proper form and body mechanics are crucial when weightlifting to avoid unnecessary strain on the shoulder.


Falling can cause direct impact to the shoulder or result in injuries when attempting to brace the fall with an outstretched hand. Some shoulder injuries commonly caused by falls include:

Direct Impact on Shoulder

Falling directly on the shoulder can result in fractures, dislocations, or muscle strains. The force of impact can damage the bones, ligaments, tendons, or muscles in the shoulder joint.

Bracing the Fall with Outstretched Hand

When falling, the instinctive reaction is to brace the impact by extending an arm or hand. This can lead to injuries like fractures, dislocations, or shoulder separations, as the force is absorbed by the shoulder joint.

Car Accidents

Car accidents can subject the body to powerful forces, often resulting in various injuries, including those affecting the shoulder. Some common shoulder injuries caused by car accidents include:

Seat Belt Injuries

During a car accident, seat belts can exert significant force on the shoulder, causing strains, sprains, or fractures. The severity of the injury can depend on the impact force and the position of the shoulder at the time of the accident.


Whiplash is a neck injury commonly associated with rear-end collisions. The rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head and neck during the collision can cause shoulder pain and stiffness.

Airbag Impact

Airbags deploy with tremendous force to protect occupants during a car accident. The impact of the airbag against the shoulder can cause bruises, strains, or even more severe injuries like fractures or dislocations.

In conclusion, shoulder injuries can result from a variety of causes, including overuse, trauma, poor posture, age-related wear and tear, sports injuries, weightlifting, falls, or car accidents. By understanding the common causes, you can take proactive steps to prevent shoulder injuries and maintain optimal shoulder health. Remember to practice good posture, engage in proper warm-up exercises, use appropriate technique during physical activities, and seek prompt medical attention if you experience any persistent shoulder pain or limitations. Take care of your shoulders, and they will continue to support you in your daily activities for years to come.

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