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"Why do I have shoulder pain when throwing a ball?"


Updated May 30, 2014

Question: "Why do I have shoulder pain when throwing a ball?"
Answer: Dear Doctor,

I am a 48 year old man who has been having shoulder pain for a few years now. The symptoms come and go, but generally do not bother me too much. However, whenever I try to throw a football or play softball, the pain is significant. If I go ahead and play, I pay for it over the next several days. What is causing my symptoms?

Shoulder pain with throwing

Thanks for asking--this is a very common problem, especially in your age group. Patients in their 40s and 50s are often quite active in sports and recreation, but their body is more vulnerable to these aches and pains!

Shoulder pain with throwing can have several causes, but the most common for your age group is shoulder bursitis or rotator cuff tendonitis. Shoulder bursitis is often irritated by "overhead activities," meaning activities that require you to have your arm up above your head, such as throwing. With the arm overhead, the bursa and rotator cuff tendon are pinched between two bones. This irritation can be quite painful, and can causes symptoms for days or longer after an episode of irritation.

You should be seen by your orthopedist to have him or her evaluate the problem. There are other conditions that can cause shoulder pain with throwing, and therefore, before any treatment you should obtain a proper diagnosis. If diagnosed with shoulder bursitis, your orthopedist may recommend medications and exercises. Depending on the severity and duration of your symptoms, a cortisone injection may also be offered. Surgery is seldom needed for shoulder bursitis, but may be needed if your symptoms do not resolve with treatment.

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  7. "Why does my shoulder hurt when throwing?"

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