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Shoulder & Elbow

Causes of shoulder and elbow pain

When you have shoulder or elbow pain, there might be no clear cause for your symptoms. However, most patients have specific conditions that the Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic shoulder surgeons can assess and diagnose.

Some shoulder or elbow conditions require urgent surgical treatment, and some are better treated with less invasive methods. It’s important to consult with an experienced and dedicated orthopedic shoulder doctor in Garner, Holly Springs, Raleigh or Cary – you choose the location that is most convenient for you.

Common causes of shoulder or elbow pain include:

  • Arthritis: This common condition occurs due to the wearing down of the protective layer that covers the bone ends within your joints
  • Bursitis: This can be described as an inflammation in the bursae, which are the small sacs located between your bones and the other moving structures like your muscles, tendons and skin.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: A condition which affects the ulnar nerve, crossing your elbow through the cubital tunnel.
  • Dislocated Shoulder and Elbow: Shoulder dislocation occurs when the ball at the top of the humerus comes out of the socket, partially or completely. Dislocation of the elbow takes place when the elbow bones are pulled apart and the ligaments that keep the bones together get stretched or tear.
  • Fractures in the Elbow or Shoulder Bones: The bones in the shoulder or the elbow can break (or crack) due to a fall or an accident.
  • Frozen Shoulder: Also known as adhesive capsulitis, this painful condition is characterized by severe motion loss. A frozen shoulder may occur after an injury or suddenly, for no apparent cause.
  • Ligament Injuries: Overuse of a joint, falls or accidents can tear or strain the ligaments on either side of the bone.
  • Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis, which is an inevitable part of aging. This condition can affect any joint in your body and is caused by wear and tear on that joint.
  • Osteoporosis: This condition causes your bones to lose calcium, which in turn causes them to become more brittle and fragile.
  • Osteonecrosis or Bone Death: This condition occurs when a segment of a bone within your joint loses it blood supply and “dies”.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This form of arthritis occurs when a severe inflammation eats away at the protective tissue lining your joints
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: Repetitive shoulder movements or other conditions can lead to degeneration of the rotator cuff tendons. This happens to be one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in people over the age of 30.
  • Shoulder Instability: This condition occurs when your shoulder joint becomes very loose and slides around too much within the socket. An unstable shoulder can also slip out of its socket completely. It is usually an injury that causes an unstable shoulder.
  • Tendinitis: Tendons are fibrous cords that keep the muscles attached to the bones. An inflammation or irritation in the tendons can be described as tendonitis.
  • Tennis Elbow: An inflammation in the muscles or the tendons of your forearm can be described as tennis elbow.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: This rare condition occurs when the nerves or vessels in your collarbone get compressed.


Whenever you feel pain in your shoulder or elbow, it’s an indication that a shoulder doctor in Garner, Holly Springs, Cary, Raleigh – any of our office locations, should assess and diagnose your condition. But if you are uncertain if your condition is serious enough to see a doctor, check the following list of symptoms to make sure. Some signs that you should be seen by a shoulder doctor in Raleigh area include:

  • Inability to carry objects or use the arm
  • An injury that causes malformation of the joint
  • Shoulder pain that occurs at night or during rest
  • Shoulder pain that lasts longer than a few days
  • Inability to raise the arm
  • Swelling or substantial bruising around the joint or arm
  • Signs of an infection, including fever, skin redness and feeling of warmth
  • Any other uncommon symptoms related to the shoulder pain like abdominal pain or trouble breathing


The Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic board-certified, fellowship-trained shoulder surgeons bring together many years of experience to diagnose and treat even the most complex shoulder conditions for patients of all ages.

The Raleigh Orthopaedic physicians provide comprehensive and specialized care for a wide variety of shoulder conditions using the latest techniques. The Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic shoulder surgeons, Dr. Robert Wyker, Dr. Hadley Callaway, Dr. William Isbell, Dr. Matthew Boes, Dr. Joseph Barker, Dr. Edwin Cadet, and Dr. Dare are dedicated to quality outcomes, and have many services available on-site to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate care for orthopaedic shoulder conditions.

What We Treat

Specialized treatments and surgical procedures are used to treat the following conditions:

and many others.

For your convenience, orthopedic surgery services are offered at our four clinic locations in the Triangle. To schedule an appointment with one of our shoulder doctors, please call (919) 781-5600 or learn more here:

Shoulder doctor Cary

Shoulder doctor Garner

Shoulder doctor Holly Springs       

Shoulder doctor Raleigh