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Shoulder Pain

David N Westerdahl, MD -  - Sports Medicine Physician

Sports Health Northwest, Inc

David N Westerdahl, MD

Sports Medicine Physician & Non-Operative Orthopaedic Specialist located in Portland, OR

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in your body, allowing you to throw a football and swing a tennis racket. Unfortunately, the structure and function of your shoulder also make it vulnerable to injuries and other conditions that cause pain, especially in athletes and active people who use their shoulders for their sport. David Westerdahl, MD, at Sports Health Northwest, Inc, specializes in diagnosing and treating shoulder pain. Schedule an appointment by calling the office located at The Graham Clinic in Portland, Oregon, or book a consultation online today.

Shoulder Pain Q & A

What is shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain refers to any discomfort you feel in your shoulder, whether at rest or in motion. The pain may range from a dull aching sensation to severe sharp pain. 

In some cases, shoulder pain may resolve on its own. However, when your shoulder fails to improve within a few days of at-home care, you should schedule an evaluation at Sports Health Northwest, Inc. 

What causes shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain often develops from injuries, overuse, or even an underlying medical condition. Common causes of shoulder pain include:


Impingement is a type of shoulder pain that occurs when the top of your shoulder blade puts pressure on the soft tissue when you lift your arm. 


Rotator cuff tendonitis may occur when inflammation is present from injury or overuse.  Tendinosis of the rotator cuff results from thickening of the collagen of the rotator cuff tendons and may cause pain but inflammation is not always present. 

Calcific tendonitis

A buildup of hard calcium in the rotator cuff tendon of the shoulder leads to calcific tendonitis.  At times, this may cause severe pain with movement, stiffness, and pressure. 

Shoulder instability

An injury to your shoulder that stretches or tears the ligaments and capsule like a shoulder dislocation may lead to shoulder instability, making it feel like your shoulder is loose, or may easily come out of the socket. 

Rotator cuff tear

A rotator cuff tear is a tear in one or more of the four rotator cuff tendons that stabilize the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. This type of shoulder injury can cause severe pain, weakness, and night pain. 

Labral tear

The labrum is a type of cartilage found in the ball and socket joint of your shoulder. It helps provide support and stability for the shoulder.  A labral tear may occur from a fall,  bracing injury, or overuse.


A fracture is a break in any of the three bones that make up your shoulder joint — humerus, clavicle, and scapula (shoulder blade).  These can happen from a fall or other acccident.

Frozen shoulder

A frozen shoulder also known as adhesive capsulitis is a stiff, painful shoulder. This can occur after injury and has been found more commonly in people with diabetes or thyroid conditions. 


Arthritis refers to joint pain, inflammation, and tenderness in the shoulder.  It can affect the glenohumeral joint or the acromioclavicular joint of the shoulder. 

How is shoulder pain treated?

Dr. Westerdahl takes a patient-centered approach to care and develops individualized treatment plans for shoulder pain based on the underlying cause, the severity of symptoms, the usual level of activity, and overall health. 

Shoulder pain treatment may include:

  • Activity modification
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
  • Ultrasound-guided calcific tendonitis lavage — washing out calcium deposits with fluid
  • Percutaneous tenotomy or fasciotomy — minimally invasive removal of damaged tissue
  • Cooled radiofrequency ablation (CRFA) for osteoarthritis
  • Bone marrow aspirate (BMA) — a type of orthobiologic 


Dr. Westerdahl works closely with you, providing the treatment that gives you the best results in the shortest amount of time.

To manage your shoulder pain, call Sports Health Northwest, Inc, or schedule an appointment online today.