Have you been having pain or a shoulder kink during your golf swing? Perhaps you are no longer able to sleep on your side at night? One of the most common reasons to seek out an orthopaedic consult is how to get rid of this shoulder pain! This can occur for a variety of reasons, and it can present quite differently depending on the issue. Sometimes, neck and shoulder pain occur together. Luckily, there are some good remedies for shoulder pain.
Adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder, is characterized by painful and persistent stiffness of the shoulder joint, which leads to difficulty carrying out normal shoulder movements. Completing everyday tasks such as dressing, driving and sleeping comfortably may suddenly become near impossible. Some people are unable to move their arm at all due to shoulder pain.
Frozen shoulder occurs when there is thickening, swelling and tightening of the soft tissue that encapsulates the shoulder joint. This means there is less space in the shoulder joint, making movement stiff and painful.
A frozen shoulder may develop suddenly or over a long period time. The exact cause of frozen shoulder remains unknown. Sometimes people become stiff following immobilization due to an injury or surgery. In other cases, the reason is much less obvious and presents almost spontaneously. Women and diabetics are more at risk of pain and stiffness caused by frozen shoulder.
Shoulder pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis, which is a degeneration of the joint commonly due to years of wear and tear. Bone spurs, chronic inflammation, and decreased joint space are symptoms of arthritis that are typically characterized by swelling, pain, and stiffness. This process frequently begins during middle age, develops slowly, and worsens over time.
Many people will avoid certain shoulder movements in an attempt to lessen arthritis pain. Reaching overhead or behind the back can be uncomfortable, so performing these motions is limited. This can lead to tightening or stiffening of the soft tissues in the joint resulting in a painful restriction of motion.
Another common cause of shoulder pain is related to rotator cuff tear symptoms. The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscle tendons that surround the head of the humerus (arm bone) to keep it in place against the shoulder socket. These muscles attach the humerus to the shoulder blade and help to rotate and elevate the arm. Because of the limited space within the shoulder, it is easy for these tendons to become impinged (pinched) or torn due to injury or overuse. If you are curious about the anatomy of the shoulder, we have a video here.
Playing a repetitive sport like swimming or tennis can put recurring stress on the rotator cuff tendons, causing inflammation and shoulder pain. This can also be due to work-related activities such as overhead lifting or repeated reaching. The swelling and discomfort that is related to these tasks can also be referred to as tendinitis, bursitis, or impingement syndrome.
It is also possible to have a tear of the rotator cuff. Over time, chronic inflammation from repetitive activities can eventually lead to small tearing, or tears may occur from a traumatic injury to the shoulder. Shoulder pain and weakness due to rotator cuff tears are sometimes treated successfully with conservative management (physical therapy), and other times require surgical intervention.
Dr. Kamal Bohsali states "A sprain of the shoulder usually means that a ligament has been injured. Sprains generally involve two locations in the shoulder: the AC (acromioclavicular) joint or the (glenohumeral) shoulder joint. There are some types of AC ligament sprains that require surgical intervention due to instability between the collarbone (clavicle) and the acromion, though most can be initially managed with a sling and physical therapy. When the shoulder joint dislocates, it is common to sprain or injury the labrum and the lining of the shoulder (capsule). Particularly in younger individuals, these ligaments may need to be surgically repaired to prevent further dislocations. For people who require surgery, it may take 4 to 6 months to be able to return to unrestricted activity." Dr. Bohsali practices at The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches division and he is the Chairman of the Department of Surgery at BMC Beaches.
The above examples are some of the most common factors contributing to shoulder pain. Don’t let an achy arm prevent you from enjoying the activities in your life. An evaluation from an orthopaedic physician is necessary to accurately identify the source of discomfort and begin the path to recovery. There is no need to live with shoulder pain, JOI can help.
Having shoulder pain not described above? You can go to this article: 5 shoulder symptoms you should not ignore. Telemedicine and ASAP Fracture and Injury appointments are available at JOI.
If you want to schedule with a Orthopaedic Shoulder Specialist, please call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below.