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Causes of Upper Right Arm Pain Between The Shoulder and Elbow


Our upper arms involve major muscles and bones, a variety of complex soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons,  and our shoulders are our most mobile joints. Subsequently, many people experience upper arm or shoulder pain to some degree at one point or another in their life.  

This may be due to an acute or chronic issue and can impact mobility and functionality in various ways. Pain in the region can also radiate to other areas, such as down to the fingers or back. There are several factors and conditions that warrant seeking professional assistance with. Once the issue is identified, a medical or physical therapy treatment plan can be developed.  

Problems that cause discomfort and reduced mobility can involve one or both shoulders. In this blog, we will look at why pain may develop in the elbow and shoulder region of the right arm. 


Reasons For Right Shoulder Pain 

Various issues can result in mild to severe, constant, transient, regular, or infrequent pain and reduced mobility in the right upper arm region. In some cases, the pain may only be present during movement, such as lifting items, weight bearing or reaching out, and in others, pain can be ongoing.

Many causes can be behind the pain, such as health conditions, degeneration, or injuries. Some of the more common of these include:


Rotator cuff issues

The group of tendons and muscles that attach your upper arm to your shoulder joint and keep it in place is known as the rotator cuff. These soft tissues can face a variety of problems that can result in upper arm and shoulder pain. These can include: 

  • Bursitis. This means that the fluid-filled sac called a bursa is inflamed. The bursa cushions the joint and allows smooth movement of the rotator cuff, so if it swells, pain and impaired motion can result.
  • Tendinitis. The tendons in the rotator cuff region can also swell and become irritated. 
  • Calcific tendinitis. Calcium deposits may build up in the rotator cuff region, which can cause inflammation and greatly decrease or prevent movement of the shoulder and arm.
  • Tears. The tendons in the rotator cuff can tear, partially or completely. Natural degeneration or injury can cause this to occur.
  • Impingement. The acromion, which is part of the shoulder blade, can rub against the soft tissues and cause inflammation and pain.


Broken bones

There are several bones in the upper arm and shoulder region and due the stress and workload the area deals with, breaks can occur. Symptoms of fractures can include pain, bruising, bumps under the skin, broken skin, and reduced mobility.  

Bones that may cause right upper arm and shoulder pain if broken may include the: 

  • Collarbone, also known as the clavicle. This bone, which joins your shoulder to your sternum can break in situations such as falls.
  • Humerus. When this bone breaks, it generally occurs along the middle or close to the shoulder and is often the result of trauma or falls.
  • Shoulder blade. It can be less likely to break this bone, but an event such as a significant car accident may cause it to happen.


Frozen shoulder

This problem can result when the joint becomes too stiff, inflamed, or painful to move, or something within the joint completely prevents movement. This can happen because of an injury or a health condition such as cancer, thyroid issues, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. 



If the main bone in your upper arm, known as the humerus, pops out of the shoulder socket, it is known as a shoulder dislocation. This can happen due to injuries and accidents, and some health conditions that can weaken or stretch the soft tissues that hold the joint in place.



There are several types of arthritis, and these can affect a variety of joints, including the shoulders. For example, osteoarthritis can cause degeneration in the right shoulder joint through wear and tear, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause the immune system to attack the right shoulder joint.



The connective tissues between the shoulder bones, known as ligaments, can tear or be overstretched. This is referred to as a shoulder sprain. An example of this is ligament damage that separates the bone at the top of the shoulder away from the collarbone. 


Physiotherapy Can Assist Right Upper Arm And Shoulder Pain 

If you are experiencing pain and reduced functionality in your upper arm and shoulder region, our physiotherapists can provide a thorough assessment and identify what the issue may be. From there, we can develop an appropriate treatment plan for you. 

Please call our friendly team to make an appointment with one of our experienced physios.




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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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