Painful shoulders give us a feeling of discomfort and make it so hard for us to move and do our usual tasks. In short, it gets in the way and performing daily activities becomes a challenge. There are several potential reasons why we experience shoulder pain and among the most common ones are osteoarthritis and injuries or tears in the rotator cuff.
Shoulder pain can usually be treated with some home remedy solutions, however if the pain is persistent even with the home remedy treatments, it may be time to see your healthcare provider. Seeing your doctor can help in identifying what is causing your shoulder pain and the best treatment can be advised.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
There are many reasons why we encounter shoulder pain and these include injuries in the rotator cuff which happens due to overuse and may cause irritation and inflammation to the rotator cuff tendon. Injuries may come in the form of a strain, tendonitis, and tears in the tendon that could be partial or complete. Bursitis which is the swelling of the bursae could be another cause.
When you have bursitis and tendonitis, you may feel pain in the side of the shoulder as well as the front. Stiffness may also be experienced. These conditions take place due to activities that uses the arms overhead such as yoga, painting a room, or tennis, and the like. Rotator cuff involves 4 muscles along with their tendons which encompasses the shoulder joint as well as serve as a link between the shoulder blade and the upper arm bone.
Tears in the rotator cuff can be another cause of shoulder pain and this can be felt when there is a weakness in the shoulder every time you lift something above the shoulder level. This condition can be caused by a repetitive action that is continuously done over time or may also be due to a single activity. It can also be caused by the weakening of the tendon due to old age. The experience of night pain is an indicator of an injury in the rotator cuff, and when you have this, it makes it hard to fall asleep as the pain will wake you up.
Another potential cause of shoulder pain is osteoarthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage deteriorates and it results in stiffness and severe pain in the back of the shoulder. Those who have osteoarthritis are not able to extend behind their back. Symptoms for this happen through time. It can be caused by a simple wear and tear or it can also be due to an old injury in the shoulder because of an activity or sports that may appear later on in time. Shoulder issues usually emerge past the age of 60 because soft tissues that surround the shoulder start to degenerate.
Other more possible reasons for shoulder pain are referred pain which is a result of an injury in another part of the body like the biceps or the neck, or impingement syndrome where the rotator cuff gets stuck in the middle of the humeral head and the acromium. It can also be due to a tear in the cartilage, arthritis, pinched nerve in the shoulder or neck, bone spurs, dislocated shoulder, broken arm bone or shoulder, frozen shoulder, injury in the spinal cord, or heart attack.
How to Treat a Shoulder Pain
Feeling pain in the shoulder can be really uncomfortable which is why it needs to be addressed immediately. Those who want to try to relieve the pain at home typically apply ice in the painful area or take a rest. If these do not work, they try taking NSAIDs (Non- Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory Drugs) such as Aleve, ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil.
Preventing the injured shoulder from getting further irritated because of activities may also help or doing physical therapy can work as well. If the pain becomes too severe, some doctors recommend corticosteroid injection which is a very strong anti- inflammatory drug. When doing a home remedy treatment, it usually takes a couple of weeks to heal.
If any of these non- invasive solutions do not work out, surgery may be an option. With this, the tendon is repaired. Another treatment for severe cases of shoulder pain may be shoulder joint replacement. This is almost the same as the joint replacement for the knees and hips.
What to Expect When You Visit Your Doctor
When you seek a healthcare provider’s help, you may expect that some questions will be asked such as your medical history and other related inquiries. Then a physical examination will be performed where swelling and tenderness may be assessed as well as joint stability and the range of motion will be checked thoroughly.
Some imaging tests like an MRI or X- Ray may also be done when necessary. From the information that they gather, the best possible treatment can then be advised and implemented. If in case the shoulder pain happens suddenly and there is no presence of an injury, call 911 right away as it may be an indicator of heart attack.
Also reach out to a chiropractor if you feel other symptoms including chronic pain that does not go away after several weeks, fever, tenderness and heat throughout the joint area, and also if you are unable to move your shoulder or have a bruise that lasts for a long time.
Oftentimes, shoulder pain cannot be totally avoided because of the activities that we do which strains it and causes it to become overused but there are some ways that we can do to at least try to prevent it. Doing basic shoulder exercises that can assist in stretching the rotator cuff tendons and the muscles can help. To do this properly, schedule an appointment with Dr. Langgle so you can learn the right shoulder exercises.
Shoulder pain should be addressed to prevent further damage and to avoid discomfort.