Even though it may not seem like it, the shoulders are one of the most complex joints of the human body. Apart from the ball-and-socket joint, several components of the shoulder such as tissues, muscles, ligaments, and tendons can cause pain. As we need a healthy shoulder to carry out most everyday tasks, a painful shoulder can take a major toll on our quality of life. It is possible to manage mild pain with the help of some home remedies. However, if the pain is severe, you may need to visit your pain doctor to avail yourself of the best treatment options.
Unlike general physicians, a pain doctor is extensively trained and experienced in treating various shoulder pain conditions. With access to integrated treatments, a holistic approach, and the required tools, a pain doctor can help shoulder pain patients in the best way. This is why it is always recommended to see a reputable pain doctor in case of chronic shoulder pain.
What Are The Causes Of Shoulder Pain?
Shoulder pain is very common, especially considering its use for day-to-day activities. As the estimates say, around 7.5 million people visit pain doctors to get the best treatments for shoulder pain, and many more than this try self-care techniques to get relief for it. You can move your arms backwards and forward, up and down, and side to side with the help of your shoulders. When you overdo such motions, shoulder pain occurs. Besides, chronic diseases like arthritis, accidents like sudden fall can cause pain in the shoulder. Let us take a look at some of the most common causes of injuries and pain in the shoulders.
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
Inflammation or irritation is caused due to the repetitive motion of the shoulders. This condition is known as rotator cuff tendinitis.
This chronic illness occurs due to wear and tear of the shoulder joint due to aging. While this is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that leads to pain in the shoulder.
Torn Rotator Cuff
A rotator cuff is formed when the tendon and four muscles in the upper arm are connected. This part of the shoulder joint is responsible for its movements. An injury to it can tear the tendons and this condition is called rotator cuff tear.
When you experience a sudden fall or you fall while your hands are outstretched, the chances of bones getting fractured increases.
As the name suggests, it makes your shoulders so stiff making it impossible for you to move them. While it may occur without any specific reason, scar tissue commonly results in this condition.
If you feel a strong blow to the shoulder, the ball in the upper arms can dislocate from the socket and cause severe pain. This condition can be total or partial.
If you start using your shoulders suddenly more than the normal use, or an accidental fall can lead to stains.
This is different from a shoulder dislocation. Separation occurs when you suddenly fall and the shoulder is hit with a strong force. In this condition, the ligaments connecting the collarbone and shoulder get damaged or torn completely.
Ligaments hold the shoulder joint together. When you fall with outstretched hands, ligaments get stretched or torn and eventually cause sprains.
Burse, a component that prevents bones from rubbing against each other, gets damaged due to inflammation. This condition is called bursitis.
Types Of Shoulder Pain Home Remedies
As mentioned earlier, mild shoulder pain can be treated at home. However, if there is serious injury, make sure to book an appointment with your pain doctor. As long as self-treating the shoulder pain that occurs to overuse is concerned, you simply have to stop the activity and take some rest. Apart from this, the following are some of the most common home remedies for this condition.
Swelling is one of the most common symptoms of shoulder pain. You can apply warm packs to reduce swelling in tendons, muscles, and ligaments. The use of heat can provide relaxation to the affected area by improving blood circulation. If the pain is intense, it is good to visit your pain doctor.
When in pain, use an ice pack or frozen bag to relax the tension in sore muscles. Perform this activity for 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a day and make sure not to apply ice packs on the naked skin.
Repetitive activities can put a strain on shoulder muscles. In such cases, taking a break can be very useful. If the pain is caused by any sports activity or is intense, have a word with a pain doctor to prevent any further damage.
Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medications
You can buy non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen over the counter. These medications reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
To further protect your shoulder from any injury, you can use a brace or other support devices. Sling is great if the weight of your arm pulls the shoulder down and causes pain. However, remember that long-term inactivity of the shoulder can lead to other serious conditions such as the frozen shoulder. Therefore, consulting this with your pain doctor is highly recommended.
When To See A Pain Doctor For Shoulder Pain?
Do not risk your health by ignoring shoulder pain symptoms. Ensure to call your pain doctor if you experience one or more of the following:
- Pain comes back after some of your initial treatments. You feel pain especially when lifting something or try to reach up.
- You experience pain even if your arm is not in use.
- Pain does not go away even if you are not using it and resting it properly.
- You notice new swelling or lump on or near the shoulder area.
- You experience numbness, paralysis, or weakness in the arms.
- The severity of pain frequently changes from mild to intense.
The same day-care is enough for some type of pain conditions. When you notice pain without any significant injury, seek help from your medical expert as soon as possible. It can be a serious issue if you find it difficult to move your arms or feel pain sensations in the arm, fingers, or hands. Pain doctors can efficiently diagnose the exact causes behind such symptoms and provide the required treatment. Ignoring the treatment can lead to permanent damage to your shoulders.
Treatments Pain Doctors Can Provide For Shoulder Pain
Professional pain doctors have expertise in the field of pain management and have all the required skills to effectively deal with chronic pain conditions. In the case of shoulder pain, they can offer the following options for the treatment.
This treatment is essential for shoulder pain patients as it improves the way the shoulder works with help of a wide range of stretching and muscle strengthening exercises. This also involves therapeutic techniques and massages.
Pain doctors work with the patients to monitor the progress and make sure the shoulders are moving normally. The physiotherapy program set by pain doctors totally depends on the condition of your pain; however, it mostly includes the following:
- Exercises to enhance the range of motion
- Exercises to reduce muscle stiffness
- Massages and manual manipulation for joints and soft tissues
- Muscle strengthening exercises
Pain clinics have a team of dedicated physiotherapists that can save you from time-consuming referrals that usually come with general physician consultation.
Pain doctors can help you with occupational therapies when the shoulder pain has made your everyday life challenging. This therapy includes exercises that help you modify the way you do your daily activities like dressing up, driving, brushing, and more. They teach you new adaptations that may reduce the excessive strain on your arms while you are at the office, home, or any other place.
Pain doctors can inject steroid injections in combination with local anesthesia right into the affected area. Even though this is a complicated procedure, pain doctors are properly trained to perform it.
Steroidal injections are great for reducing the inflammation in the shoulder area and eventually reducing the pain. Moreover, they make you prepared for the physiotherapies. Depending on your pain conditions, pain doctors recommend 2 or 3 injections for you per year. If even this procedure does not work, they can perform further investigations to get the right solution for your pain problem.
When all other shoulder pain treatments do not offer the desired relief, pain doctors suggest surgical treatments for the patient. Most ailments related to shoulders can be treated with surgeries. This needs extensive skills and experience in using keyhole techniques and pain doctors are well-versed with all of this. They can perform the following surgeries that general physicians usually can’t:
- Capsule release of frozen shoulder
- Torn rotator cuff repair
- Subacromial decompression
Aging causes wear and tear in the shoulders. Plus, being one of the most vulnerable parts of our body, shoulders are highly prone to injuries. Pain doctors know such aspects of shoulder pain in and out and they have access to some areas that normal doctors do not.
Indeed, mild pain can be treated at home; but severe pain needs a professional pain doctor as soon as possible. If you or someone you love is experiencing it, do not delay the treatment as it can lead to even more serious problems. In the company of a great pain doctor, you can look forward to long-term recovery.