Updated: Jun 8
Shoulder pain is one of the most common injuries that people face. It limits movement in your arms, hands, and spine, making even the simplest daily tasks difficult. Shoulder pain can affect people of all ages and activity levels. It can be debilitating, but with proper care and rehabilitation from our New York pain management center, it does not have to be permanent.
In this blog post, we'll answer some of the most common questions related to shoulder pain, including its causes, treatment options, and prevention. Whether you're dealing with a recent injury or a chronic condition, this post will provide you with the information you need to understand and manage your shoulder pain better.
Question: What are the possible causes of shoulder pain?
The shoulder is a complex joint that is made up of many muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It connects the arm to the trunk and allows us to move our arms in various directions. Shoulder pain is a common complaint for people of all ages, but the causes of shoulder pain can vary greatly. The following are some possible causes of shoulder pain:
Bursitis. This is an inflammation of the bursa, a small sac that acts as a cushion between bones, tendons, and muscles in your shoulder joint.
Rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and their tendons that stabilize your shoulder joint. These muscles become irritated if they're strained or torn.
Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis). Frozen shoulder occurs when your shoulder capsule — the tough tissue surrounding your rotator cuff muscles — becomes inflamed or scarred. This makes it hard for you to move your shoulder joint through its full range of motion and causes severe pain in your shoulder blade area when you try to raise your arm above your head or behind your back.
Arthritis. Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints that results from wear-and-tear injuries over time. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA is a degenerative condition that affects the cartilage within joints, causing them to become stiffer and less flexible over time. RA causes joint inflammation that leads to painful swelling and stiffness in different areas of the body.
Injury. Shoulder injuries may occur as a result of trauma, such as falling onto an outstretched hand while playing a sport; repetitive use in sports such as tennis and golf; or occupational hazards, such as lifting heavy objects. Shoulder pain is one of the most common complaints seen by sports medicine physicians. In addition, it is a very common site of injury in athletes, especially those who participate in overhead-throwing sports such as baseball, softball, and tennis.
Repetitive stress. Repetitive stress injuries are common in jobs that require heavy lifting or overhead work. These include construction workers, farmers, and office workers who spend hours sitting at a computer terminal or desk.
Question: What are the symptoms of shoulder pain?
Shoulder pain can range from minor discomfort to severe pain. The most common symptoms are:
• Pain at rest or with activity. The pain may gradually get worse with repetitive use of your arm or shoulder, such as when you're sleeping on it wrong or lifting heavy objects.
• Tingling or numbness in your arm or hand that gets worse with activity.
• A change in range of motion in your shoulder joint, such as a limited ability to lift up your arm behind your back or above your head.
• A popping sensation in the shoulder when moving it in certain directions
• A feeling like something is stuck in your shoulder blade (this can also be caused by bursitis)
• A burning sensation in the front or back of your shoulder
• Aching pain when lifting objects overhead
Question: When is it time to see a doctor for shoulder pain?
If your shoulder has been hurting for more than a week, chances are you need to see a pain doctor. If the pain gets worse or doesn't improve after trying some home remedies, make an appointment with your health care provider.
It's always best to consult a doctor if you have an injury that causes joint pain or swelling in the affected area. Common causes of shoulder pain include rotator cuff tears, bursitis, and impingement syndrome — all of which doctors can use non-invasive techniques such as physical therapy and corticosteroid injections.
You should also seek medical attention if:
• You have shoulder pain with weakness in your arm or hand. This can be an indicator of nerve damage or other serious problems that require immediate medical treatment.
• You have shoulder pain with nausea, vomiting, or fever. This combination could indicate that an infection has spread from another part of your body into your joint.
• You have shoulder pain with swelling over one side of the joint (known as effusion). Effusion can be caused by arthritis, injury, or even cancerous tumors in the joint space.
• You have shoulder pain that comes on suddenly and gets worse quickly. You should also see a doctor if you've had shoulder pain for several days and it seems to be getting worse instead of better or if you have new symptoms that aren't getting better on their own (like swelling).
• You have shoulder pain that keeps coming back. If the pain goes away but comes back again over time, it could be something called recurrent impingement syndrome (also known as "frozen shoulder"). This condition involves inflammation and tightness of the tendons around the joint.
Question: What is the treatment for shoulder pain?
Treatment depends on what's causing your shoulder pain. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy or cortisone shots to reduce inflammation and ease stiffness. They may also suggest wearing a sling or using some other type of external support device if they think you have a fracture or dislocation.
If you're experiencing shoulder pain, it's important to let your doctor know as soon as possible so they can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and provide treatment options that will work best for you.
Question: Will shoulder pain go away on its own?
Not necessarily. Shoulder pain can be caused by many different conditions, including rotator cuff tears and frozen shoulder syndrome. While these conditions can improve without treatment, you may need physical therapy or other interventions to restore your range of motion and strength fully.
Question: How long does it take for shoulder pain to go away?
This depends on how severe your condition is and what kind of treatment you're receiving for it. Most cases of rotator cuff tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons that connect muscles in the shoulder joint) respond well to conservative treatments like rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications within two weeks.
However, if you continue to experience pain after two weeks despite conservative treatment, then you may need more advanced therapy, such as physical therapy or injections into the joint space, in order to recover fully from your injury.
Question: How can I prevent shoulder pain?
• Use proper form when lifting weights or doing other exercises that involve pushing and pulling motions with your arms and hands.
• If you have arthritis or other joint problems in your shoulders, avoid activities that put stress on those joints, such as gardening, yard work, and painting walls — all of which require repetitive movements with your arms above shoulder level.
• If you feel any pain, stop using that arm immediately. If the pain goes away after resting, then start using the arm again very gently. If it doesn't go away or gets worse, see your doctor right away because you might have torn something in your shoulder.
• Maintain good posture. Good posture helps to keep your shoulder joints in place, reduces stress on the muscles that hold up your arms, and makes it easier to breathe deeply and avoid hunching over the keyboard.
• Strengthen your chest muscles. A strong chest provides support for your upper body and helps prevent injury to the shoulder joint during exercise or other physical activities.
Question: Can physical therapy help my shoulder pain?
Yes! One of the most common treatments for shoulder pain is physical therapy. In fact, it's the most effective non-surgical treatment for many conditions affecting the shoulder joint. Physical therapists are highly trained in treating all types of musculoskeletal injuries and using hands-on techniques to address underlying causes of pain and restore function.
Physical therapists use a variety of treatments to address your condition. The goal is to get you functioning better so that you can return to work, exercise, and activities you enjoy without pain or limitations from your injury or condition.
Find An Answer to Your Shoulder Pain
Shoulders are complex mechanisms that play important roles in our bodies and deserve our attention. We hope that this article was able to help you achieve some understanding of the causes, symptoms, and treatments for your shoulder pain. It is best to avoid activities that aggravate your symptoms or cause further injury.
If shoulder pain continues for a long time, it may require treatment. And keep in mind that you don't have to suffer in silence. Be sure to discuss all of your concerns with a New York pain management specialist. Once you have a better understanding of your pain, the specialists can help you address it and move forward with your life.