About a third of Americans accept that they feel aches ‘often’ or ‘very often’ – more than any other country. – The Atlantic
In fact, by some estimates, head neck and shoulder pain affects around 67% of the US population at least at some point over the course of their life.
The shoulder is composed of several prime structures in our body, including tendons, bone, cartilage. It is a ball and socket joint that allows a wide range of movement. It is one of the most mobile and versatile joints of our body and due to this reason it is also prone to a variety of injuries, and pain, like inability to lift the arm, pain in movements, weak shoulder muscles, and so on.
Read on to learn – what causes you should pain and what are the possible ways to relieve the pain.
Also, known as adhesive capsulitis, this condition is exactly what it sounds. Frozen shoulder is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms may begin from mild pain and gradually worsen over time. It may even take one to three years for this injury to take a heavy toll on your health. The risk of developing frozen shoulder increases when you are recovering from a medical condition or injury that restricts your arm movements.
The symptoms of frozen shoulder ranges in three stages:
- Limitation in the range of your shoulder movement
- Shoulder becomes stiffer, and it becomes tough to move
- Motion slowly improves with a complete return to normal
Treatment for frozen shoulder includes – corticosteroid injection in shoulder join to subside lower neck and shoulder pain , injecting sterile water into shoulder to improve mobility and motion, physical therapy and in some cases arthroscopic surgery.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
It is a common condition of shoulder pain which is caused due to soreness of the tendon of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that surround shoulder joint, keeping the arm bone firmly attached within the shallow socket of shoulder. There are two types of rotator cuff tears – 1. A partial tear where the soft tissue is damaged. 2. A full tear in which the soft tissue split into two pieces. When one or more rotator cuff tendons are torn, it no longer attaches the head of upper arm causing pain in day-to-day activities.
The symptoms of rotator cuff injury may include:
- Dull ache in the shoulder
- Disturbed sleep
- Difficulty in day-to-day movements
- Weak arms
The treatment of rotator cuff injury includes – stretching and strengthening exercise, physiotherapy, medications and steroid injections.
Neck Shoulder Pain treatment & Symptoms
A dislocated shoulder is an injury in which the ball of the joint becomes so loose that it comes out of the socket that is part of the shoulder blade. The shoulder joint is very mobile which makes it prone to dislocation. In some cases, the shoulder is partially dislocated. This condition is called subluxation where the shoulder almost slips out of the socket but again pops back inside. In dislocated shoulder, people often notice that their shoulder feel loose in a certain position, for example, when they raise their arm over their head. There are multiple possible reasons behind shoulder dislocation – repetitive strain, loose capsular ligaments, multi-directional instability and traumatic injury.
The signs and symptoms of dislocated shoulder include – swelling or bruising, intense pain, inability in movement, visible deformed and out-of-place shoulder.
The treatment of shoulder dislocation aims at shoulder muscle pain relief – medication to subside pain, mild sedatives to allow body relax, physical therapy for strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve range of motion.
Osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis is the most common type of arthritis that occurs in the shoulder. Though this condition, pain and physical limitations associated with this increase with age, an injury or dislocated shoulder can give rise to or worsen osteoarthritis.
It occurs when articular cartilage – the cartilage that covers the top of bones degenerates. This cause pain, swelling and sometimes bone spurs (end of bones rub together). Osteoarthritis most often affects the people above 50. Nevertheless, it may affect younger people also who have suffered an injury or trauma, for example, fractured or dislocated shoulder. In some cases, osteoarthritis may also be hereditary.
The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in shoulder which worsens with activity. Patients may complain ache deep in the joint and the pain centered in the back or shoulder may aggravate with changes in the weather. Limited range of motion is another common symptom of osteoarthritis. It may be difficult for the patients in day-to-day activities, like lifting arm to comb hair, reach shelf, etc. You may also expect to hear a clicking sound while moving your shoulder which happens due to rubbing of bones to one another.
The first treatments of osteoarthritis do not involve surgery and includes multiple things – making alterations in the way patients move their arm, taking anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and pain, physical therapy (as assigned by the doctor), range-of-motion exercise, apply ice packs to the shoulder, medications, dietary supplements, and so on.
If nonsurgical treatments do not help, doctor may take help of surgery. Surgical treatments for osteoarthritis include – shoulder joint replacement, replacement of the head of the upper arm bone, removal of a small piece at the end of the collarbone.
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This condition may be as troubling as it sounds. A bursa is a tiny fluid-filled sac that helps reduce friction between the tissues of the body. There are 160 bursae in a human body, and majority of them are located adjacent to tendons near large joints. Shoulder is one of them. Shoulder bursitis is caused due to an injury or inflammation of a bursa around shoulder joint. Multiple factors may cause shoulder bursitis – underlying rheumatic condition, repeated minor trauma, overuse of shoulder joint or muscles, major trauma, like fall, injury.
Shoulder Bursitis is typically identified by localized pain, swelling, tenderness, pain without any motion in the affected area. Shoulder bursitis is often companied by tendinitis of tendons which causes tenderness of the inflamed tissues. It may cause a pinching pain when elbow is moved. Pain can also be felt when the shoulder is touched. Reduced range of movements in the shoulder joint, swelling, pain when the arm is raised, are other common symptoms of this condition.
The treatments for Shoulder Bursitis include – anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling, rest to reduce shoulder movement, ice packs to reduce pain and swelling, therapy for neck and shoulder pain , steroid injection around the bursa, and surgery if short-term treatments do not help.
Bicep tendonitis or tendinitis is used to refer to all conditions related to pain or injury to one of the shoulder’s bicep tendons. Bicep tendon is connective tissue that connects the biceps muscle to the humerus (upper arm bone). Biceps tendinopathy is the umbrella term that encompasses multiple biceps injuries which covers inflammed tendon, non-inflammed degenerative tendon, bicep tenosynovitis and ruptured biceps tendon. This injury is prevalent among athletes who participate in the sports that involve heavy pulling and lifting movements.
Patients who Biceps Tendonitis complain of shoulder pain, weakness in the elbow or shoulder, discomfort when moving or twisting forearm. Overhead activities, especially which involve external rotation, produce pain which may be aggravated by shoulder or elbow flexion. It occurs as bicep of the patient stretches from the shoulder to elbow.
Treatments for bicep tendinitis usually focus on restoring normal functions. Physical treatment is given to patients, depending on their functional, sport or lifestyle requirements. Bicipital tendinopathy is a successfully physiotherapist-guided rehabilitation program which helps a lot and prevents patients from undergoing surgery. To lessen this condition, sportspersons need sport specific exercises and progressed training regime to make an injury-free return.
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
A typical reason for shoulder pain, Shoulder impingement syndrome occurs when tendons or bursa in the shoulder get impinged or pinched. This condition is also known as impingement syndrome or swimmer’s shoulder as it is very common in swimmers. Moreover, it is also common in athletes who rigorously use their shoulder, like baseball players.
The upper arm in our body is attached to your shoulder by rotator cuff which is a group of muscles and tendons. All these make it possible to lift our shoulders and rotate our arm. The rotator cuff rests under acromion – the top of the shoulder. In case of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff catches or rubs against the acromion which causes pain.
The typical symptoms of shoulder impingement syndrome include – difficulty reaching the back or behind, weakness in shoulder muscles, tendon can develop in a rotator cuff tear, and so on.
The most common treatment for shoulder impingement is oral anti-inflammatory medications. Stretching in warm shower also helps to subdue the condition. Repetitive activities are avoided. Physical therapy, cortisone-type injections, and surgery are other treatment options which are adopted when nothing works.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, wrong posture, increased use of computers and cell phone and fast-changing lifestyle dramatically increase the risk of shoulder injuries. It is always advisable to contact your doctor once you experience shoulder pain as treatment varies depending on your condition.
About Author: Dr. Scott Gray
Dr. Scott Gray is an internationally recognized and expert physical therapist specializing in sport, athletic, and back and neck injuries. He is the inventor of a revolutionary form of treatment called the GRAY METHOD. This type of treatment unlike others, addresses the CAUSE rather than just your SYMPTOMS with a full body approach. For more information on how to ease or overcome your injury, go to www.backinmotionsspt.com.