Shoulder pain can be caused by various reasons and it interferes with your well-being as most of the vital activities depend on your shoulder. It is the source of severe discomfort among many people all around the globe.
One must not ignore even the mild shoulder pain as it can lead to substantial damage to your shoulder area. It is crucial to seek immediate medical treatment in such cases. In this article, our pain doctors shed some light on the best shoulder treatment options for you in this new year. But before that, let us understand what causes can lead to it.
Causes Of Shoulder Pain
It is vital to understand what is causing the shoulder pain you are experiencing. Some causes lead to mild pain, whereas others can cause severe pain. Let us take a look at some of the most common causes of shoulder pain one by one:
A blow to your shoulder or falling can lead to damage to your acromioclavicular joint. It can cause displacement of your collarbone, leading to a severe injury called separation.
Frozen shoulder is also called adhesive capsulitis. In this condition, your shoulder joint feels stiffness and intense pain. When the connective tissues of the joints become thick and tight, it makes your shoulder freeze and immovable.
Falling or hitting the shoulders on a hard surface can cause a crack in your bone or might break it, resulting in substantial damage to your humerus and clavicle. This condition makes your shoulder weak and it is severely painful. You may struggle to lift your arm with a fractured or broken collarbone.
Doing repetitive shoulder motions can be injurious to your cartilage. Falling or carrying a huge load over your shoulder can damage your shoulder and leads to a tear in the cartilage.
When your upper arm bone comes out of the cup-shaped socket (when the humerus’ head pops out of the shoulder joint), it can lead to a dislocated shoulder. Shoulder dislocation can be caused by harsh pulling or extreme rotation of your arm.
Bursa is a sac filled with fluids and acts as a cushion for our joints. Any task that includes repetitive motions of a certain kind can lead to substantial irritation and swelling to your bursa. Bursitis can be caused by getting a blow to your shoulder, falling, or other kinds of problems.
Rotator Cuff Tear
A certain kind of group of muscles in your shoulder is responsible for holding your arm, this is collectively known as the rotator cuff. One can lift their arm because of the rotator cuff and damage to this part of the body can cause pain during the most unexpected of times. It can rob you of your good night’s sleep as it makes it hard to position yourself comfortably to sleep.
If you are unable to find the origin of the pain and you cannot cease to feel the pain as well, then this might be an indication of the injury to your liver, gallbladder, spine, heart, or any other internal organ of your body. In this case, the pain gets radiated to the shoulder from the affected parts.
A hit or falling might result in an inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff. This kind of inflammation is known as tendinitis.
It’s time to seek immediate medical help when you feel extreme stiffness in your shoulder and heaviness in the chest as it can be a sign of a heart attack.
Bone spurs are also called osteophytes. In this condition, tiny pieces of bones brush against the rotator cuff causing severe pain. It’s pretty hurtful to move your shoulders with such pain and if not addressed, it can also lead to tendonitis or rotator cuff tear.
It’s a kind of inflammatory disorder that can cause harm not only to the joints but also to your eyes, skin, heart, and blood vessels. When your body tissues are attacked by the immune system, this can lead to a condition called rheumatoid arthritis, which ultimately results in pain in your shoulder.
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome involves inflammation in the tendons of the muscles of the rotator cuff as the tendons pass through the passage under the acromion.
Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease. The breakage of cartilage and brushing of the bones against each other can lead to stiffness in your shoulder resulting in severe shoulder pain.
Below are some tests one might need to go through to understand the cause of shoulder pain.
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Computerized Tomography (CT scan)
- Magnetic Resonance And Imaging (MRI)
Non-Surgical Treatments For Shoulder Pain
Some ailments related to shoulder pain can be cured with surgery, whereas others are less severe and can be treated with the help of drugs and other non-surgical measures. Frozen shoulder, shoulder impingement syndrome, shoulder instability, and tendinitis can be treated with nonsurgical shoulder treatment.
Sports such as tennis, swimming, baseball, or weight lifting can cause trauma to your shoulder which can result in shoulder impingement or tendon inflammation. With enough rest, the use of ice packs, and some anti-inflammatory medicines, one can deal with this kind of ailment effectively. Your physician might suggest you avoid harsh activities that involve the use of the shoulder. Apart from these, physical therapy or steroid injections are considered to be vital for persisting shoulder pain.
It is severely arduous to lift your arm with the inflammation in the shoulder ligament. Steroid injections and some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed by your doctor to help you cope with such extreme pain. Your physician might recommend you with arthroscopy as well.
Arthritis and shoulder dislocations can be caused by shoulder instability. In such cases, treatment options like getting enough rest for the shoulder, usage of ice packs, joint realignment manipulation, and pain medications are suggested. If these treatment measures can’t get you the relief from shoulder instability, then your physician might hook you up with an arthroscope, as an additional part of the treatment.
Surgical Treatments For Shoulder Pain
When non-surgical treatments proved to be incapable of getting enough relief, it’s time to consider some surgical treatments. “Rotator cuff sparing total shoulder arthroplasty” is an innovative surgical technique where shoulder replacement is done with the help of a tiny opening in the tendons of your rotator cuff. In such cases, tendons remain intact as there is no need to cut through the rotator cuff. Your surgeon gets access to your shoulder joint through a surgical window in this procedure. The best part — it promises less surgical pain and a faster recovery.
In the surgical procedure known as arthroscopy, a tiny fiber-optic camera (endoscope) is used to insert instruments to heal the damaged shoulder. In this way, any trauma to the surrounding ligaments, muscles, and tissues can be avoided. Quicker healing, smaller incisions, and rapid recovery are some of the benefits of this technique. This surgical procedure is usually done on an outpatient.
Your physician might recommend arthroscopy for the problems mentioned below:
- Subacromial decompression
- Frozen shoulder
- Stiffness in shoulder
- Damaged rotator cuff
- Torn labrum or biceps tendons
- Evaluation of shoulder instability and its treatment
- Shoulder arthritis
- Bone spurs
Your physician can also offer total shoulder joint replacement (where the affected shoulder joint is replaced by an artificial implant).
This procedure is recommended in the following scenarios:
- When your earlier shoulder replacement surgery is failed
- Avascular necrosis
- When all the other pain-relief measures have failed
- When your joint is severely impaired by arthritis
- Degenerative arthritis
The progressive surgical joint replacement technique which is devised for rotator cuff tear arthropathy (where one suffers from a rotator cuff tear and shoulder arthritis) is called reverse total shoulder replacement. Your physician might recommend you this option for the following scenarios:
- When your rotator cuff is completely damaged beyond repairment
- In the case of rotator cuff arthropathy
- When previously done shoulder replacement is failed
- If the shoulder pain is lasting despite the non-surgical treatment
- When you are feeling devastating shoulder pain
- When there are many hardships and struggle regarding overhead tasks
Tips to consider
Here are some tips that might help you to cope with severe shoulder pain:
- Wrap some ice in a cloth, apply it to the affected area of your shoulder and leave it for 15 minutes. Do this activity thrice a day for a couple of days.
- Enough rest is mandatory as it can provide many benefits for your shoulder pain.
- With the help of a physical therapist’s attention and care, you can try getting back to your daily activities slowly.
- People suffering from tendinitis must try some exercise to cope with a frozen shoulder.
- Try maintaining good postures to keep the tendons and muscles of the shoulders intact.
- You can take acetaminophen like Tylenol and ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation and the pain.
- Your physician might recommend some gentle stretching exercises which can help you to strengthen the shoulder muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff.
Some kinds of shoulder pain can be milder, whereas others can be much more severe than you anticipate. In such cases, it is imperative to seek immediate medical treatment. Try gentle exercises, ice packs, and enough rest to tackle the pain in the shoulder. Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
By talking about pain and sharing your devastating condition, you might feel well. Strong willpower to become even healthier and little patience, despite the hardships, can do wonders for your well-being and provides you with enough strength to deal with the pain.