What might be causing your shoulder pain can involve a lot of guesswork – that is, until you see an experienced and qualified orthopedic specialist. Even so, your doctor will likely require X-rays or an MRI before an accurate diagnosis can be made.
Your shoulder is quite literally the most complex joint in your body. Unlike other joints, it allows full range of movement, letting you swing your arm in circles, for example. That same extreme mobility is also what makes the shoulder is so susceptible to injury such as dislocations, fractures, tendonitis, cartilage damage, and more.
Below are some common reasons for shoulder pain, how the conditions occur, and treatment methods.
- Rotator Cuff Tear. The muscles and tendons of your rotator cuff are what permit the free and smooth movement of your arm and shoulder. When one of the tendons fray, tear, or break, it can cause irritation of the interior portion of the shoulder and hurt quite a bit, too. Rotator cuff tears can happen due to repetitive stress or sudden trauma such as from work that involves a lot of heavy lifting, sports with persistent overhead arm movement, or from falls or car accidents. Rotator cuff tears are marked by pain that worsens with movement or pressure on the area. Treatment usually consists of some combination of anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, rest, and possibly surgery.
- Frozen Shoulder. Experienced as an extreme stiffness in the arm, frozen shoulder can strike anyone at any time. It tends to occur after the shoulder has been immobilized for a period of time such as after an injury or surgery. If you have diabetes, a thyroid disorder, heart disease, or even Parkinson’s disease, you have a greater risk of developing frozen shoulder. Also called adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder occurs when scar tissue forms in the shoulder, effectively preventing movement, especially raising the arm. Treatment typically consists of physical therapy (including massage and stretching), pain management injections, and occasionally surgery. Although the condition may go away on its own over 1-2 years, treatment is critical to restoring your shoulder’s range of motion.
- Shoulder Dislocations and Instability. When ligaments or muscles are stretched beyond their normal capacity, your shoulder can weaken and become unstable, leading to easy dislocations. Shoulder instability and dislocations can also occur due to structural insufficiencies around the joint. If you think you have suffered a shoulder dislocation, get medical attention immediately. As you might expect, a dislocated shoulder is extremely painful until the joint it correctly moved back into place. Treatment may include immobilization, medication, and physical therapy.
If you live in Bismarck, North Dakota, or the surrounding areas, contact The Bone & Joint Center by calling them at (800) 424-2663 or request an appointment now and get treatment for your shoulder pain before it worsens.