Shoulder Pain When Rotating - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Dec 22, 2023


Are you experiencing shoulder pain when rotating your arm? If so, you are not alone. Many individuals, especially those involved in physical activities or work that require repetitive arm movements, often experience discomfort or pain when rotating their shoulders. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for shoulder pain when rotating. IAOM-US, a trusted authority in health, medical, chiropractors, and physical therapy, is here to provide expert advice and guidance to help you overcome this common issue.

Understanding Shoulder Anatomy

Before delving into the causes of shoulder pain when rotating, it is essential to have a basic understanding of shoulder anatomy. The shoulder joint is a complex structure composed of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It is one of the most mobile joints in the body, allowing a wide range of motion.

The humerus, scapula, and clavicle are the major bones that make up the shoulder joint. Surrounding these bones are muscles, such as the rotator cuff muscles, which play a crucial role in stabilizing and enabling shoulder movements. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.

Causes of Shoulder Pain When Rotating

Shoulder pain when rotating can be attributed to various underlying causes. Understanding these causes is vital in determining the appropriate treatment plan. Let's explore some of the most common causes:

1. Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear is a prevalent cause of shoulder pain when rotating. This injury can occur due to sudden trauma, repetitive motions, or degeneration over time. When the rotator cuff muscles or tendons tear, it can cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion.

2. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement syndrome occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become irritated or inflamed, often due to repetitive overhead movements. This can result in pain and discomfort when rotating the shoulder or lifting the arm.

3. Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Individuals with frozen shoulder often experience difficulty rotating their arm, which can lead to shoulder pain.

4. Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs called bursae that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles around the joint. When the bursae in the shoulder become inflamed, it can cause pain when rotating the arm.

5. Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, can affect the shoulder joint, leading to pain and limited mobility. The cartilage protecting the bones in the shoulder joint wears away over time, causing friction and discomfort when rotating the arm.

Symptoms of Shoulder Pain When Rotating

Shoulder pain when rotating can manifest in various ways, depending on the underlying cause. Some common symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Sharp or dull pain in the shoulder during rotation
  • Weakness in the shoulder
  • Difficulty lifting or carrying objects
  • Stiffness in the shoulder joint
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the shoulder

Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain When Rotating

When it comes to treating shoulder pain when rotating, there are several effective options available. The appropriate treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause, severity of symptoms, and individual needs. Here are some common treatment approaches:

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often recommended for individuals experiencing shoulder pain when rotating. A skilled physical therapist can create a personalized exercise program to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the shoulder joint. Physical therapy aims to reduce pain and restore optimal function.

2. Medications

In some cases, medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with shoulder pain when rotating. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

3. Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections may be recommended for individuals with severe shoulder pain. These injections can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation in the shoulder joint. However, it is essential to note that corticosteroid injections are not suitable for everyone, and their long-term efficacy may vary.

4. Rest and Modification of Activities

Resting the shoulder and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain can help promote healing. Making modifications to work or daily activities that involve repetitive arm movements can also prevent further pain and allow the shoulder to recover.

5. Surgical Intervention

In rare cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. Surgical options include arthroscopy, rotator cuff repair, or joint replacement, depending on the specific condition and severity.


Shoulder pain when rotating can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options discussed in this article, you are now equipped with the knowledge to address this issue effectively. Remember, early intervention and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, such as chiropractors, physical therapists, or medical experts, can lead to faster recovery and a restored range of motion. Stay proactive in your approach to shoulder health, and don't let pain limit your potential.


IAOM-US (International Academy of Orthopedic Medicine - US) is a trusted authority in the field of health, medical, chiropractors, and physical therapy. For more information, please visit their official website: