Overview of Shoulder Pain

Overview of Shoulder Pain

Your shoulder is an important joint made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons that help your arm move and carry weight. Since your shoulder is composed of so many parts, it can get hurt for a number of reasons.

Shoulder pain may be related to strain or overexertion. In many of these cases, you should be fine after a few days of taking it easy, icing and over-the-counter pain medication. However, shoulder pain can also be severe and long-lasting.

If your shoulder pain fits in the latter category, you should seek professional treatment. Ignoring shoulder pain can result in the development of a more serious condition or permanent loss of motion.

Continue reading to learn more about the symptoms of serious shoulder pain, its causes and what treatments are available.

Symptoms of shoulder pain

The symptoms of shoulder pain may appear suddenly or develop slowly over time depending on the cause. As mentioned before, many cases of shoulder pain are mild and temporary, but you may need professional assistance if you notice any of the following:

  • Extreme pain or long-lasting pain
  • Swelling and redness
  • Loss of motion
  • A deformed appearance of the joint
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Pain when turning your head

If you notice shoulder pain following an impact or an accident, you should visit a medical professional.

Causes of shoulder pain

Your shoulder is complex and is prone to many causes of pain. Common causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Tendinitis — This is the inflammation of the tendons that connect your muscles to the bones of your shoulders. Tendinitis is the result of overuse.
  • Bursitis — Your joints are cushioned by liquid sacs known as bursae. Bursitis is the swelling and inflammation of these sacs, which leads to pain and stiffness of the joint.
  • Rotator cuff tear  Your rotator cuff includes muscles and tendons vital to your arms mobility. Your rotator cuff can become partially or completely torn due to overexertion or injury.
  • Pinched nerve — A pinched nerve in your upper spine can create pain that stems into your shoulder.
  • Frozen shoulder  Irregular growths of tissue in the joint can cause your shoulder to lock up or “freeze.”
  • Dislocation — A dislocated shoulder is the separation of the ball joint from the shoulder socket. Sometimes a dislocated shoulder pops back in place by itself and other times it requires medical assistance.
  • Fracture — The bones in your shoulders are prone to fractures from impact or osteoporosis, which is a condition that causes the bones to grow weak.
  • Arthritis — Arthritis causes pain in joints like your shoulder by wearing down your cartilage and bones.

Diagnosing shoulder pain

If you are suffering from shoulder pain, your primary health care provider will assess the pain to form a treatment plan. To do this, he or she will need to examine your symptoms, ask questions about your medical history and perform a series of tests.

These tests will help your physician identify damage to the bones or soft tissue that may be the source of your pain. These tests include:

  • CT scan
  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • EMG (electromyogram)

Treating shoulder pain

Treatments for shoulder pain vary depending on factors like the cause of your pain and your age, sex and medical history. Severe cases of shoulder pain may require surgery for treatment, but most of the time you will be fine with medication and physical therapy.

Physical therapy is an excellent option for shoulder pain treatment because physical therapists are skilled in treating the musculoskeletal system. That is the system that includes your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, joints and cartilage. In other words, everything that makes up your shoulder.

Physical therapy for shoulder pain aims to reduce pain and restore mobility primarily by strengthening and stretching the muscles and ligaments. Many shoulder pain treatments include:

  • Stretching and exercising
  • Massage
  • Cold and hot therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Controlled movements

Physical therapy can also help you recover from shoulder surgery. If you have to  get shoulder surgery, talk to your physical therapy about your pre-surgical therapy and post-op recovery options.

Schedule an appointment for shoulder pain at Advent Physical Therapy

The team at Advent Physical Therapy has been treating conditions like shoulder pain for more than 20 years. We are highly trained and passionate about helping patients reduce pain and improve quality of life.

Would you like to speak with one of our physical therapists about reducing your shoulder pain and restoring its functionality? Contact us today to schedule an appointment and find out how physical therapy can help you.