Many people mistake that joint pain is only limited to older people and athletes. The fact is, we all are at risk of shoulder pain and have experienced it at least once at some point in our lives.
While shoulders are one of the most commonly injured body parts, shoulder pain is among some of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions in the United States. Also, it ranks in the top 3 reasons that make people miss their jobs.
But have you ever wondered why shoulders are this much prone to injuries? Keep reading to know the reasons behind it as our pain management doctors have compiled 10 amazing facts about shoulder pain and injuries along with some useful information on this topic. Before we get to know the facts about shoulder pain, here are some basics of shoulders and the pain associated with them.
Parts Of Shoulder
Basically, our shoulder joint is made of bones. Components like tendons, muscles, and ligaments hold those bones together and help them function. The job of holding the muscles with the shoulder joint is done by tendons which are made up of tough tissue cords. This supports the smooth movement of the shoulder. Ligaments offer stability to the shoulder by holding three bones located in the joint.
What Are The Causes Of Shoulder Problems?
Breaking of soft tissues located in the shoulder area is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Overusing the shoulder can lead to tissue breakdown in the shoulders as we age. Activities such as sports, excessive workouts, and manual labor can also result in tissue breakdown in the shoulder area.
Patients often feel the sensation of aching in their arms, small points in the shoulder, or the entire shoulder region. Some medical conditions mentioned below can transmit pain from other body parts to the shoulder through nerves:
- Spine disease in the neck
- Liver disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart disease
Diagnostic Ways To Detect Shoulder Pain
Pain doctors use one or more of the following methods to diagnose shoulder pain in patients:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Physical examinations
- Medical history of the patient
Most Common Shoulder Ailments
The following are the most common shoulder problems faced by the people in the United States:
- Frozen shoulder
- Rotator cuff disease
- Rotator cuff tear
The severity and symptoms of all these shoulder conditions may vary from patient to patient. Pain doctors prefer a unique approach to treat them depending on the patient’s individual needs.
Let us now take a look at each of these shoulder problems one by one.
This condition has two types — Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
With Rheumatoid arthritis, there are chances of inflammation in multiple joints. Basically, this is an autoimmune health condition and may need medications such as corticosteroids and physical therapy for the treatment.
On the other hand, osteoarthritis is the result of constant wear and tear in the cartilages. Pain doctors often recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin to treat this condition. Patients with arthritis may undergo surgery if the primary health care plan does not ease pain or enhance the functionality.
This restricts the shoulder movements and makes it difficult to carry out everyday activities. It can be caused by one or more of the following:
- Low or no amount of fluid that supports joint movements
- Growth of tissue bands in joints that restrict movements
- Deepening rheumatic disease
- Relatively low movements of shoulders due to chronic pain
Fortunately, treatments for the frozen shoulder are widely available and they include:
- Cortisone injection
- Electrical stimulation of nerves and muscles
- Stretching exercises
- Heat applications
- Medications to ease swelling and pain
- Surgery if anything else does not work
Rotator Cuff Disease
Some physical components pinch the tendons located in the shoulder joint and it causes swelling or soreness in them – this is shoulder tendinitis (a type of rotator cuff disease).
Inflammation in the fluid-filled sac located in the joint leads to the condition called Bursitis (another type of rotator cuff disease). This small sac is medically known as burse and it helps in protecting the shoulder joint. The major cause of Bursitis is excessive sports or jobs that require frequent use of shoulders.
Bursitis and tendinitis may take place together in patients or arise individually. If you are suffering from any one of these, try the following treatment options by consulting with your pain doctor:
- Mild exercising and gentle stretching to improve strength
- Medication like NSAIDs — aspirin, and ibuprofen to ease pain and swelling
- Corticosteroid drug injections
- Ultrasound (gentle sound-wave vibrations) to warm deep tissues and improve blood flow
- Ice packs
- Plenty of rest
- Surgery if no improvement is noticed within 12 months of other treatments
When the shoulder is pulled or twisted very hard, the ball located at the bone top is thrown out of the socket – this causes dislocation. Pain doctors use different methods to get the ball back in the socket. Such treatments include:
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Applying ice packs or frozen bags 3-4 times a day (20 minutes each)
- Plenty of rest
- Wearing a device to support the shoulder
Crack in the bone causes fracture and it mostly involves the upper arm or collarbone when it comes to shoulder fractures. A sudden blow or accidents can lead to this condition and it can be treated with one of the following methods:
- Wearing a device to support the shoulder
- Manual manipulation (pain doctors manually change the bone positioning)
- Exercising post healing to support bone movements
Tearing of ligaments placed between the shoulder blade and collarbone causes separation. It normally takes place when one falls with the hands stretched or due to a sudden blow to the shoulder. Pain management specialists recommend one of the following treatments for the relief from separation:
- Gentle exercising
- A device that supports the shoulder
- Plenty of rest
- An ice pack or frozen bag to ease swelling and pain
- Surgery if no improvement is noticed with the above-mentioned methods
Rotator Cuff Tear
Overuse and aging can cause inflammation in rotator cuff tendons. Even a sudden blow or fall can injure them. This condition is commonly known as rotator cuff tear and it can be less painful for some and extremely painful for others.
Depending on the severity of the tear, age and health condition of the patient, and the duration of this tear, treatment is decided. It can be any of the following:
- Cortisone injections
- Nerve and muscle electrical stimulation
- Applying heat or cold to the affected area
- Gentle exercising to improve motion and flexibility
- Ultrasound techniques
- Swelling and pain-reducing medications
- Plenty of rest
- Surgery if other treatments do not work
Now that we are aware of common medical conditions related to the shoulder along with their causes, diagnostic methods, and treatment options, let us move to the top 10 interesting facts about shoulder pain that you probably didn’t know.
10 Interesting Facts About Shoulder Pain
There is one basic treatment option for shoulder pain and it is called RICE. It stands for the following activities:
R – Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation
The RICE technique is fantastic for reducing the inflammation in the affected area and providing much-need relief from pain.
Shoulder pain can be the consequence of a disease that you are not yet aware of. Underlying conditions in the patient can lead to sharp pain in shoulder muscles that radiate to the arm. It can be anything from heart diseases, spinal disorders, liver problems, and diabetes
In the United States, around 9 percent of adults suffer from chronic shoulder pain according to the World Health Organization. In short, one American out of 10 is currently dealing with shoulder pain.
You are at more risk of shoulder injury if when playing sports such as ice hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis, football, etc.
If you experience intense pain in the shoulder right after any accident, it can be the dislocation. Visit your doctor as soon as possible as the pain can worsen and be unbearable with time.
Your orthopedic surgeon and pain doctor can be of big help in case of unbearable shoulder pain. They are trained to diagnose such health conditions and identify the source of pain. You can get comprehensive treatment options at pain clinics that support gradual and natural recovery from shoulder pain.
Women in the age range of 40 to 65 years are more prone to frozen shoulders. While the study to get the exact reasons behind this is still going on, injuries or trauma to the shoulder are some of the most common causes.
Physical therapies have shown excellent results for treating shoulder pain and outcomes are even better than surgeries. With long term positive effects and functionality restoration, a physical therapist is one beneficial conservative approach that is affordable and does not require you to skip work.
Exercising can be a boon and also a curse for your shoulders. Strong, healthy, and flexible shoulders are something we all want. Exercising can be the perfect option for that. However, bad or wrong exercise techniques can wreak havoc on the shoulders. Therefore, consulting your pain doctors before engaging in this activity is always the best deal.
Shoulder pain can lead to disturbed sleep. When suffering from shoulder pain, patients cannot easily position themselves to sleep and it may lead to sleeping disorders.
So there they are. Top 10 facts of shoulder pain and other important information. If you or someone you love is experiencing shoulder pain, do not delay visiting a reputable pain doctor. Prolonged shoulder injuries can be even worse. Fortunately, with a wider range of holistic and integrated treatments, it is quite easy to get rid of this pain and get your life back to normal.