Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

When an otherwise healthy person develops shoulder pain, it can be somewhat surprising. But, after digging into some of their habits, they can usually find the cause. When a patient comes to our office for help, we typically try to help them determine the cause and solutions for shoulder pain.

Here are some causes of shoulder pain:


We are a busy society, and by virtue of that, have many regular stressors. The result is tension, and many people carry their stress in their neck and shoulders. If a person has a bad day or even bad news, it will ramp up those already-tense set of muscles.

Mouse shoulder

Also, we have become a computer-centric society. We sit at computers and desks for much of the day, and as a result, our repetitive mouse use can give us what has been called ‘mouse shoulder.’ It's a deep ache which has been described as a burning sensation. Once treated, the mouse shoulder can recur with as little as one hour of using a mouse.


How casually we sling an oversized purse or overpacked carry-on over our shoulder and carry them for hours. We think very little about doing these things until later when our shoulder begins to radiate pain. Even a person who has been bedridden for an extended time can suffer from shoulder pain.

There is also shoulder injury, which we will examine in a later blog.


Lasting solutions to shoulder pain require a multi-pronged approach. First, it’s essential to stop the behavior which caused the shoulder pain. This may mean carrying fewer things in a purse, rolling luggage, and changing the way we use a mouse.


Researchers Alan Hedge and Greg Shaw of Cornell discovered that even a ten-degree change in the position our arm is in could put a strain on our shoulder. By keeping the mouse arm straight, and by having the mouse closer to the body than most people place it, much of the muscle strain can be alleviated.

Other ways to change our mouse habits include a ball tracker or vertical mouse, or simply switching the mouse to the other hand. Is it tricky? Yes, it is! But most people can master it in a few weeks, saving them years of shoulder pain.


Moving around more throughout the day and building up strength in the shoulder and neck will also help prevent shoulder pain from returning. If a physical therapist suggests exercises to do at home between therapy visits, a wise patient will perform them faithfully.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can include exercises, heat treatment, massage, and more. After we evaluate the shoulder patient, we create a custom plan which is tailored to their specific injury.

With proper treatment, a patient with shoulder pain will heal. If you have shoulder pain, don’t wait. Seek treatment immediately.

If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073.