Understanding Shoulder Pain
The shoulder has an extensive and versatile variety of motion. When something happens to your shoulder, it hinders your ability to move easily and can cause excoriating of pain and discomfort.
- Humerus (long arm bone)
- Clavicle (collarbone), and
- Scapula (also known as the shoulder blade). These bones are cushioned by a layer of cartilage. There are 2 joints:
- Acromioclavicular Joint - located between the highest part of the scapula and the clavicle;
- Glenohumeral Joint - comprised of the top, ball-shaped part of the humerus bone and the outer part of the scapula (aka the shoulder joint)
The shoulder joint is the most movable joint in the body. Movements in include: the shoulder moving forward and backward. This allows the arm to move in a circular motion.
The shoulders range of motion comes from the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of 4 tendons. Tendons - tissues that attach muscles to bone.
You can injure your shoulder by performing physical labor, playing sports, or by repetitive movement. There are also diseases that move through the shoulders such as: cervical spine of the neck, liver, heart, or gallbladder disease.
You’re more likely to have problems with your shoulder as you age. It is especially common after the age of 60. This is because the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder tend to degenerate with age.
In many cases, you can treat shoulder pain yourself. There are many things you can do to help your current situation such as: physical therapy, medication, and/or surgery.
There are many influences and circumstances that can contribute to shoulder pain.
The most likely cause is rotator cuff tendinitis. This is a condition is caused by inflamed tendons. Another common cause of shoulder pain is an impingement syndrome where the rotator cuff gets caught between part of the scapula and the humeral head.
Added causes of shoulder pain include forms of arthritis, torn cartilage, and/or a torn rotator cuff. Inflammation of the bursa sacs (which guards the shoulder) or tendons can also be reason for pain. In some cases, people develop bone spurs.
A frozen shoulder is when tendons, ligaments, and muscles stiffen and become hard or impossible to move. A dislocated shoulder is when the ball of the humerus is pulled out of the shoulder socket - an injury due to overuse or repetitive motion.
Treatment will be contingent on the source and severity of the shoulder pain. Some treatment options include physical therapy, immobilizing the area, medication or surgery.
How can I prevent shoulder pain?
Shoulder exercises and proper stretching can help with preventing future injuries. It is important to strengthen muscles and rotator cuff tendons. A physical therapist or your doctor can show you how to do them properly.How is the cause of shoulder pain diagnosed?
Dr, Markarian will have you come in for an appointment where he will personally examine you and do any needed testing such as: an X-ray and MRI.
Your doctor may also ask questions to determine the cause. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- Did this pain begin abruptly? If so, what were you doing?
- Does the pain transfer to other areas of your body?
- Can you pinpoint the area of pain?
- Does it hurt when you’re NOT moving?
- Does it hurt more when you move in certain ways?
- Is it a sharp pain or a dull ache?
- Has the area changed in appearance: red, hot, or swollen?
- Does it keep you awake at night?
- What makes it worse and what makes it better?
Treatment will be contingent on the source and severity of the shoulder pain. Some treatment options include physical therapy, immobilizing the area, medication or surgery.How can I prevent shoulder pain?
Shoulder exercises and proper stretching can help with preventing future injuries. It is important to strengthen muscles and rotator cuff tendons. A physical therapist or your doctor can show you how to do them properly.