Shoulder Pain

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'life-threatening'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose shoulder pain, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "shoulder pain" as a symptom.  Here are three possibilities:
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Torticollis
  • Ectopic Pregnancy

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
unexplained missed periods
bleeding between periods
recent onset abdominal pain
ectopic pregnancy
vomiting for 1-3 months
non-specific arm pain
severe non-specific hand pain
severe left iliac pain
moderate right iliac pain
major unexplained weight loss
severe fatigue after slight exertion
dizziness when standing up
... and more than 10 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of shoulder pain:
Cause Probability Status
Torticollis 94% Confirm
Polymyalgia Rheumatica 20% Unlikely
Ectopic Pregnancy 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate joint problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you experience shoulder pain?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Yes, due to physical injury
→ Yes, it is a minor problem / comes and goes
→ Yes, one hurts most of the time (not from injury)
→ Yes, both hurt most of the time (not from injury)
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate shoulder pain from injury, minor shoulder pain, unilateral shoulder pain or bilateral shoulder pain, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Ectopic Pregnancy

Shoulder tip pain can be a symptom of ectopic pregnancy.

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