Shoulder pain can be something that makes it very difficult to carry out simple and normal everyday tasks such as reaching for something, driving your car or even brushing your hair. The pain, stiffness and/or weakness that you feel can make your day much more difficult than it should be.
There are a number of different reasons why you may be experiencing shoulder pain and if the pain persists, it is always advisable to see a doctor. One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tears, injuries or osteoarthritis. Pain in your shoulder can also be from injuring it via fall or accident or you may have overdone a chore such as painting your house or even playing a sport such as tennis or swimming.
Is my shoulder injured?
A couple of things to think about if you have an injured shoulder is whether you can move your arm normally. A limited range of motion is often a sign that you have injured your shoulder. Perhaps you find it is too stiff or painful to move in a normal way. Feeling like your shoulder could pop out of the socket or that your shoulder isn’t strong enough for the things that you would usually do on a daily basis is also a sign that your shoulder could be injured.
What is rotator cuff injury?
There is a group of four muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint known as the rotator cuff. These muscles connect the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade and there are small sacs near the joint that provide lubrication to decrease the friction among the bones, ligaments and tendons in that area. When you overuse your rotator cuff, that’s when problems usually occur. You may find you have tendonitis, strains or partial and/or complete tears of the tendon. The rotator cuff muscles are critical to helping your shoulder move normally.
What are the types of rotator cuff problems that can occur?
While it’s always advisable to see a medical professional when you’re having issues with your shoulder, there are three main types of rotator cuff problems. These issues include tendonitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff tear.
Bursitis is caused when inflammation and swelling of the bursa occurs. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs located in joints in and around your body, including the shoulder. Think of them as cushions between your bones to help reduce friction. When you use your shoulder excessively this can lead to inflammation and swelling which can then lead to bursitis.
When you have inflammation in your tendon, this is also known as tendonitis. When the rotator cuff tendon is irritated or inflamed, this leads to tendonitis. This can cause pain in the front and the side of the shoulder and you may also experience stiffness with your shoulder.
If your shoulder pain is stopping you from falling asleep at night, you may have a tear in one or more of your rotator cuff tendons. One of the hallmark signs of a rotator cuff injury is pain during the night. You can also have this type it injury if you lift your arm over your head and you feel pain. A weakness of the shoulder can also be felt if you try and lift anything over shoulder level. Of course, if you think you may have a rotator cuff tendon tear, it’s always best to seek advice from a medical practitioner who will be able to properly diagnose you.
How do you treat shoulder pain?
Depending on the cause of your shoulder pain, there are a number of different treatments involved. In some cases, the best treatment is rest. You may need to avoid the activities that caused the pain in the first place. For example, if you play a sport and you think that the pain was caused during that activity, you may need to have a break until your shoulder feels better.
Other options include applying ice and physical therapy such as myotherapy. When seeking advice from a myotherapist, they will often want to learn a little bit more about how you first experienced the shoulder pain and what might have caused the issue. From there they may be able to work with you to decide on the best treatment methods. When shoulder pain is quite serious, a corticosterone injection is often used to help some patients.
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain and would like to find some alternative relief, have a chat with our friendly team. We have the experience and understanding of various injuries and pain throughout the body and we may be able to help you get the right treatment for your shoulder pain.