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Shoulder Pain Specialist

Maguire & Early Orthopedics

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons located in Santa Barbara, CA & Pismo Beach, CA

Shoulder pain is often the result of a sports injury, accident, or overuse and typically prevents physical activity. If you or your child is suffering from shoulder pain, Maguire & Early Orthopedics can help. Experienced orthopedic specialists Michael Maguire, MD, and Sean Early, MD, have offices in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach, California, where they provide conservative and surgical solutions to shoulder pain. To return to an active life, fit and free from shoulder pain, call Maguire & Early Orthopedics or book an appointment online today.

Shoulder Pain Q & A

What causes shoulder pain?

The shoulder joint contains many muscles, bones, and tendons that give it a wide range of motion, but this ability also leaves it vulnerable to injury and pain. Most shoulder pain comes from soft tissues that stretch too far or tear.

Some common causes of shoulder pain in children and adults include:


Dislocation is when the two parts of a joint separate and is a common shoulder problem. Frequent or severe dislocations can lead to shoulder instability, where the joint pops apart quite easily.


Tendons connect muscle to bone. Irritation or overuse of the shoulder tendons can cause numerous tiny tears to develop, leading to inflammation and pain typical of tendinitis. Acute injuries from high-intensity sports can also cause tendinitis.


Another type of repetitive strain problem is bursitis – inflammation and swelling of the bursa. Bursae help to cushion the shoulder and reduce friction.

Rotator cuff tears

The rotator cuff surrounds the shoulder. Trauma or sports injuries can cause the tendons and muscles in the rotator cuff to tear, and dislocations often involve damage to the rotator cuff.


The most common type of shoulder fracture is a proximal humerus fracture, where the top of the arm bone (the humerus) breaks. Broken collarbones (clavicle fractures) are also common, but fractures of the shoulder blade are less likely.

What symptoms might occur with shoulder pain?

If you or your child has a shoulder injury, it may be difficult to raise your arms above your head or perform movements like scratching your back. If you or your child plays sports or participates in other physical activities, the shoulder pain is likely to intensify. The joint might also feel weak.

To determine the cause of these symptoms, your provider at Maguire & Early Orthopedics conducts a detailed physical examination and looks at X-rays of the affected joint. They might also request an MRI scan to examine the soft tissues, which don't show up so well as bones on an X-ray.

If these investigations don't pinpoint the cause of the shoulder pain, arthroscopy may be necessary. This minimally invasive technique involves passing a tiny camera on a flexible rod through a small incision in the skin. The camera sends back detailed pictures of the joint's interior to a monitor in the procedure room.

How is shoulder pain treated?

In some cases, rest, altering activity types, and physical therapy successfully address the causes of shoulder pain. Medication can also help reduce shoulder pain to a more tolerable level so the necessary therapy can be performed. If conservative treatments don’t alleviate the pain, surgery may be necessary.

To find a resolution for shoulder pain, call Maguire & Early Orthopedics today or book an appointment online.