Shoulder pain is an extremely common reason for consultation. It is indeed the most mobile of our joints, as well as one of the most stressed since it forms the junction between three bones: the scapula, the humerus, and the clavicle. Doing your hair, drinking your coffee, driving your car: many innocuous gestures performed on a daily basis, therefore, go through the shoulder, and the repetition of these gestures can weaken it. It is also a very complex joint since it is made up of several joints, muscles, and tendons. Shoulder pain can therefore have many origins, on which the treatment of pain depends – hence the importance of consulting a doctor in case of persistent shoulder pain.
Given the complexity of the structure of the shoulder, shoulder pain can have various origins: articular, tendon, muscle, nerve, bone… In the vast majority of cases, this pain is caused by tendonitis of the shoulder: an inflammation of the tendons of the muscles allowing its mobility (called “rotator cuff”) either because of a natural wear related to the age or as a result of a wrong movement or repeated movements (for example in as part of a professional or sporting activity synonymous with repetitive movements). A painful shoulder can also be linked, among other things, to pathologies such as bursitis or calcifications, to traumatic causes (tears, tendon ruptures, sprains, dislocations, fractures of the humerus, scapula or collarbone) or inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis or arthritis. However, sometimes the pain can come from a non-musculoskeletal cause unrelated to the shoulder: infectious disease, neurological disease, heart or lung problem can result in a sore shoulder. This is why you should not delay in consulting a doctor in the event of persistent shoulder pain: the latter can quickly establish a diagnosis and then an appropriate treatment.
Shoulder pain can be manifested by different symptoms:
- The pain of varying intensity in the shoulder, whether or not present at rest and intensifying during strenuous activity
- Pain radiating to the arm, sometimes to the hand
- Stiffness of the shoulder
- Swelling, edema, or swelling
- Decreased or lost mobility of the shoulder
- A decrease in the functional capacities of the shoulder, arm, and/or hand
- A crunching sensation in the shoulder
Given their impact on everyday actions, shoulder pain can quickly become disabling: it must therefore be taken care of quickly.
A sore shoulder should be treated based on its origin. However, the multiplicity of possible causes in case of shoulder pain makes the diagnosis complicated: it is first for the doctor to estimate whether this pain is indeed related to the shoulder or if it reflects a problem besides and which would spread to the shoulder. Muscle tests most of the time identify the muscle or tendon responsible for the pain, but other information relating to the patient’s job, his activities, his history of trauma can help the doctor to establish a diagnosis, as well as the location of the pain and the symptoms associated with it. When the pain does not appear to be from a musculoskeletal cause, further examinations are carried out. Often, ultrasounds can diagnose whether the symptoms are related to a cardiovascular, pulmonary, digestive or neurological problem, for example.
Treat shoulder pain
Once diagnosed by the doctor, shoulder pain can be treated. Most of the time, when the problem is indeed with the shoulder, analgesics (such as paracetamol) and/or anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed to treat the pain, along with physiotherapy sessions. In case of severe pain, cortisone injections may also be prescribed. Surgery remains a rare but possible case: it is recommended especially in the event of an acute rupture of the rotator cuff due to trauma. Some solutions can also reduce and relieve shoulder pain without medication. This is particularly the case with pain management devices: by combining analgesic heat and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, these devices effectively reduce muscle and joint pain. Finally, some precautions can be taken to limit pain in everyday life:
- Avoid, of course, any gesture that causes pain.
- Never force a movement that hurts.
- Keep your elbows close to your body if necessary.
- Ensure that the elbows are at a 45-degree angle to the body.
Do not wait to begin the conversation for your mobility issues or shoulder pain relief. Dr. Munish Lal will assist you in solving your frequent concerns and help you master how to enhance your health for optimal wellness. Right at the heart of Torrance, CA, pain care is just a call away.