7 Causes And Symptoms Of Right Shoulder And Arm Pain

If you have ever suffered with shoulder pain, you know it can range from simply annoying to severe, and it sometimes moves down your arm towards the elbow. Your shoulder joint is complicated, and pain can emanate from multiple problem areas. Let’s discover 7 causes and symptoms of right shoulder and arm pain…but there are many more.

General Causes Of Right Shoulder And Arm Pain

There are three main causes that make our right shoulder and arm hurt.

  • You might have injured your shoulder.
  • You could be overusing the muscles in the joint.
  • There could be nerve damage.

From there, specific causes and symptoms will fall under these three issues.

Rotator Cuff Disease

middle aged man experiencing shoulder pain on grey background

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that keep the humerus or upper arm bone in our shoulder socket. The rotator cuff can become painful due to overuse or injury.

For example, the tendons of the rotator cuff can become irritated and inflamed called tendonitis, the bursa sac filled with fluid can be inflamed known as bursitis, or impingement can occur in part of the shoulder blade as it rubs against the rotator cuff causing swelling and pain.

Generally the pain starts with a dull ache around the tip of the shoulder and gets worse when you push, pull, or reach overhead.


This is a very painful injury when the top of the humerus bone comes out of the socket. Car accidents, a fall, or sports injuries are common causes of a dislocation.

Dislocation causes severe pain in the shoulder and upper arm making it difficult to move the arm.

Torn Rotator Cuff

This happens from injury or overuse. It can be a partial or complete tear in the tendons of the rotator cuff.

Pain with a torn rotator cuff occurs in the front of the shoulder radiating down the side of the arm.

Swimmer’s Shoulder

There are multiple ways a swimmer can injure their right shoulder due to the high number of stroke repetitions during training.

They include the following:

  • Impingement syndrome occurs when tendons rub or catch on surrounding tissue when a swimmer lifts their arm.
  • Labral injuries occur when there is a tear in a piece of cartilage called the labrum which sits inside the socket.
  • Shoulder instability happens when the muscles around the joint do not keep the upper arm bone in the socket.
  • Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves causing numbness and weakness.

The pain from swimmer’s shoulder radiates along the back of the shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a common cause of right shoulder pain. It occurs with inflammation in the lining of the capsule of the socket. The capsule thickens and tightens causing the pain. There is no known cause other than inflammation.

The pain is characterized as dull and aching and is located over the outer shoulder area and sometimes upper arm.

Osteoarthritis Shoulder Pain

Normal wear and tear is the main cause of this painful condition.

The pain feels like a deep ache in the shoulder and upper arm.

A Heart Issue

Most of us think of pain in the left arm when someone is having a heart attack, but the pain can also be in the right arm and shoulder.

Call 911 immediately if your pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, pressure or burning in the chest area, dizziness, pain radiating to the jaw, sweating, and rapid heart beat.

Contact Dr. Samuel Koo at (425) 823-4000, or request an appointment online, for treatment if you are experiencing severe or aching pain in your right shoulder and arm.