Shoulder Pain

What causes shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain may be localized in a specific area or may spread to areas around the shoulder or down the arm. Common shoulder problems include:

  • Dislocation. The shoulder joint is the most frequently dislocated major joint of the body -- often caused by a significant force that separates the shoulder joint's ball away from the joint's socket.
  • Separation. Separation occurs when the ligaments attached to the collarbone are torn, or partially torn, away from the shoulder blade. Shoulder separation may be caused by a sudden, forceful blow to the shoulder or as a result of a fall.
  • Tendinosis. Tendinosis of the shoulder is caused when the rotator cuff and/or biceps tendon become worn out and occasionally inflamed, usually as a result of being pinched by surrounding structures. The injury may vary from mild inflammation to involvement of most of the rotator cuff.
  • Rotator cuff tear. A rotator cuff tear involves one or more rotator cuff tendons becoming inflamed from overuse, aging, a fall on an outstretched hand or a collision.
  • Fracture. A fracture is a partial or total crack or break through a bone that usually occurs due to an impact injury.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Stiffness

What treatment options are available?


Arthroscopy is a common, outpatient procedure used to diagnose and treat shoulder problems. Using a device called an arthroscope, the surgeon is able to look directly into the joint. The arthroscope consists of a small tube inserted into the body that contains a system of lenses, a small video camera and a light for viewing. The camera is connected to a monitoring system that allows a surgeon to view the operation while it is being performed. This procedure can be used to remove bone spurs or inflammatory portions of muscle and to repair small tears.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery replaces the rough, worn parts of your shoulder with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. A partial replacement replaces only the ball, while a total replacement replaces both the ball and the socket. Replacement surgery is recommended only if other treatment options do not relieve symptoms. Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss your symptoms with you, examine your shoulder and order tests determine if a replacement is the best answer for you. Recovery after shoulder replacement surgery can take a few months, but you can look forward to less pain and stiffness and more strength and movement.
Baptist Health’s Joint Replacement Team is dedicated exclusively to the surgical care and rehabilitation of patients requiring joint replacement surgery. All surgery is performed in surgical suites exclusively designed for orthopedic care.

What are the patient outcomes?

The best advocates for the care you can expect from Baptist Health are the patients themselves. Hear this patient’s success story.

Deborah Westbrook, Shoulder Replacement Patient

Deborah Westbrook and her husband had been steadily working to remodel their Pangburn home when she began having pain in her shoulder.

She shrugged it off as a sign of aging but the pain continued to worsen to the point where one day, she realized she couldn't even lift her glass of tea.

After Deborah’s primary care physician referred her to an orthopedic specialist, Dr. David Gilliam at OrthoArkansas, it was decided immediately that her rotator cuff was completely deteriorated and she needed a total shoulder replacement.

Dr. Gilliam knew that traditional surgery replacement was not an option for Deborah because of her severely degraded rotator cuff. He felt that she would be an excellent candidate for the innovative reverse shoulder replacement surgery.

In June of 2013, Deborah had a successful reverse shoulder replacement surgery at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock and was back to her regular activities within no time.

Deborah is once again enjoying her remodeling projects and entertaining her four grandchildren!