Shoulder Pain Reasons and Treatments
Shoulder pain can be caused either by an injury, or certain medical condition, diseases and disorders.
Many people have a common misconception about shoulder pain specifically. Shoulder pain is the third most common cause of musculoskeletal pain preceded only by low back pain and neck pain. It’s interesting that while patients with knee pain or back pain will tend to seek out medical advice.
People with shoulder pain tend to think they just have to deal with it, that it’s a normal part of Aging or a normal injury. From several years ago there are a lot of causes of shoulder pain that are very treatable with simple interventions.
One of the most common causes of injury to the shoulder or pain in the shoulder is a problem or issue with your rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that all converge to form one big tendon in your shoulder and you use these muscles and almost all of your daily activities. When the rotator cuff is injured it can be debilitating. These tears or these injuries in the rotator cuff can start off as kind of a nuisance or nagging and can slowly become more and more debilitating.
It’s very common. It’s very treatable. So, whether it’s preventing these injuries with appropriate exercise and stretching or to actually diagnosing an issue treating with medications or physical therapy. You can improve your quality of life with these simple interventions so you don’t have to live with shoulder pain.
If your shoulder is bothering you, I urge you to go and see your doctor, see a specialist and get it worked up because it’s likely that with some simple alterations you can really live a more functional quality of life.
This article describes 9 of the most common causes from both categories.
Common causes of shoulder pain
Forms of arthritis:
- Osteoarthritis: Cartilage in the shoulder joint breaks down. The ends of the bones in the joint rub together, resulting in pain, stiffness, and other symptoms. Osteoarthritis tends to occur as people age and cartilage is lost due to wear-and-tear
- Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disorder, which happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.
- Gout: Sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, resulting from an accumulation of urate crystals.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: Vertebrae in the back become fused, causing pain to radiate to various areas of body, including the shoulders.
Bursitis and Tendonitis:
Bursitis: Inflammation and irritation in a fluid-filled sac (bursa) that helps tendons, skin, and muscles move smoothly over your bones.
Tendonitis: When the thick cords that join your muscles to your bones become irritated and inflamed, it’s called tendonitis. “Tennis elbow” is a well-known example tendonitis (sometimes spelled tendinitis)
Rotator Cuff Tear:
There’s a group of four muscles and tendons, known collectively as the rotator cuff, that helps stabilize the shoulder and facilitate movement. Rotator cuff can be injured in a number of ways, but strain and overuse are the most frequent.
These Whiplash occurs when your head is suddenly thrown backward and forward again with significant force. Whiplash is common in rear-end collision vehicle accidents, but can also happen in competitive sports activity, amusement park rides, and so on. Most people think whiplash only affects the area of the neck and head, but soft tissues also extend to the shoulders.
Slipped Spinal Disk:
Spinal disks are the shock-absorbing individual bones in your spine. When one slips out of place pain can radiate through the nerves to the shoulders, ribs, arms, legs etc. This is known as referred pain.
When the spinal column arrows and starts compressing the spinal cord, it’s called stenosis. This can trigger refereed pain in the shoulders and lots of other areas, depending on which nerves are affected.
Fibromyalgia is a long term or chronic disorder with mysterious causes. Sufferers describe widespread symptoms that include pain in the muscles and bones, areas of tenderness and general fatigue.
Heart problems have a number of warning signs besides chest pain(angina). If your left shoulder pain or arm pain is accompanied by sweating, nausea, fatigue, and trouble breathing, you may have coronary artery disease. See your doctor as soon as possible, because these symptoms could signal the danger of an impending heart attack.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
The thoracic outlet is the narrow space between your collarbone and first rib. Blood vessels, nerves, and muscles extend through the thoracic outlet from the back to the arms. When these become compressed, they trigger pain in the general area of the shoulder, neck, and arms. It can also cause numbness or tingling in your hands. Thoracic outlet syndrome is often caused by physical trauma from a vehicle accident, repetitive movements, or certain structural abnormalities.
Shoulder Pain Treatment: Managing Your Shoulder Pain.
There are 3 goals to self-care.
- Reduce pain self-treatment
- Regain full range motion
- Strengthen Muscles
It typically takes at least six to eight weeks for these self-care techniques to make a difference. We treat shoulder impingement with rest, ice and exercise both stretching and strengthening.
The first part of self-care is to rest your shoulder by avoiding actions that caused pain. For example, raising your arm overhead or beyond the point where it hurts. To the extent you can, keep movement at waist level and keep your elbows tucked in close to your side and take regular breaks when you’re working or working out.
Icing several times a day reduces pain and inflammation. It promotes healing and it’s easy to do.
Don’t wait for shoulder impingement to go away completely to start exercising. In fact, gentle exercise even when your shoulder still hurts will help you get better. Once you have less pain you can start strengthening your rotator cuff and upper back muscles. This will let you get back to your regular activities and keep the pain from returning.
Medicines for shoulder pain
Ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce pain and inflammation. For most people taking these medications that the dose indicated on the label relieves their pain, so they can do other things like stretching to recover. But it’s important to remember that just taking pills won’t solve the problem. Resting your shoulder, icing and doing the proper exercises will do the most good.
Not everyone should take anti-inflammatory medications. Check with your doctor if you’re allergic or pregnant, if you take blood thinner medication or have ulcers or kidney problems. If taking anti-inflammatories doesn’t reduce the pain it’s okay to stop. Instead, you can focus on the other self-care recommendations described in this program.
If you’ve tried self-care and are still having shoulder pain after six to eight weeks, talk with your doctor about other treatments. Your doctor may decide to give you a cortisone shot in the part of the shoulder that hurts, these shots often help relieve the pain and inflammation enough to allow you to continue self-care. Getting over shoulder impingement can take a couple of months, so don’t get discouraged if self-care doesn’t work. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist or do further testing. Shoulder surgery is rarely necessary and is considered only after at least three months of self-care. Physical therapy like all surgery, there are risks and you will need regular physical therapy after surgery.