Shoulder pain is one of the more common reasons for physician visits for musculoskeletal symptoms. The shoulder is the most movable joint in the body. However, it is an unstable joint because of the range of motion allowed. The injuries to the shoulder can and do, cause a lot of pain. Usually, the pain is related to a particular function or task but often times the pain becomes more prevalent throughout the day.
Symptoms for Shoulder and Neck pain:
- Pain: All pain seems sharp, but pain can also be described as dull, burning, crampy, shocklike, or stabbing. Pain can lead to a stiff neck or shoulder and loss of range of motion. Headache may result. The character of each symptom is important to your doctor because the particular features can be clues to the cause of your pain.
- Weakness: Weakness can be due to severe pain from muscle or bone movement. The nerves that supply the muscles, however, also could be injured. It is important to distinguish true weakness (muscle or nerve damage) from inability or reluctance to move because of pain or inflammation.
- Numbness: If the nerves are pinched, bruised, or cut, you may not be able to feel things normally. This may cause a burning sensation, a loss of sensation, or an altered sensation similar to having your arm “fall asleep.”
- Coolness: A cool arm or hand suggests that the arteries, veins, or both have been injured or blocked. This may mean that not enough blood is getting into the arm.
- Color changes: A blue or white tinge to the skin of your arm or shoulder could suggest that the arteries or veins have been injured. Redness can indicate infection or inflammation. Rashes may be noted as well. Bruising may be evident.
- Swelling: This may be generalized to the whole arm or maybe localized over the involved structures (a fracture area or an inflamed bursa, for example). Muscle spasms or tightness may simulate actual swelling. Dislocation or deformity may cause a swollen appearance or, paradoxically, a sunken area.
- Deformity: A deformity may be present if you have a fracture or a dislocation. Certain ligament tears can cause abnormal positioning of bony structures.
What most people call the shoulder is really several joints that combine with tendons and muscles to allow a wide range of motion in the arm from scratching your back to throwing the perfect pitch.
Mobility has its price, however. It may lead to increasing problems with instability or impingement of the soft tissue or bony structures in your shoulder, resulting in pain. You may feel pain only when you move your shoulder or all of the time. The pain may be temporary or it may continue and require medical diagnosis and treatment.
This article explains some of the common causes of shoulder pain, as well as some general treatment options. Our doctor can give you more detailed information about your shoulder pain.
Some common Shoulder Pain conditions include:
- BURSITIS / ROTATOR CUFF TENDONITIS – Rotator cuff tendonitis is an inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the tendons of the shoulder.
- ROTATOR CUFF TEAR – The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that help move and stabilize the shoulder joint. Damage to any one of the four muscles or their ligaments that attach the muscle to bone can occur because of acute injury, chronic overuse, or gradual aging.
- FROZEN SHOULDER – is a condition that causes restriction of motion in the shoulder joint. The cause of a frozen shoulder is not well understood, but it often occurs for no known reason.
- CALCIFIC TENDONITIS – Calcific tendonitis is a condition that causes the formation of a small, usually about 1-2 centimeter size, calcium deposit within the tendons of the rotator cuff.
- SHOULDER INSTABILITY / DISLOCATION – Shoulder instability is a problem that occurs when the structures that surround the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint do not work to maintain the ball within its socket.
- LABRAL TEAR – The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip; however, the socket of the shoulder joint is extremely shallow, and thus inherently unstable.
- SLAP LESION – A SLAP tear is an injury to a part of the shoulder joint called the labrum. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip; however, the socket of the shoulder joint is extremely shallow, and thus inherently unstable.
- ARTHRITIS – Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis. Also called wear-and-tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint.
- BICEPS TENDON RUPTURE – A biceps tendon rupture is an injury that occurs to the biceps tendon causing the attachment to separate from the bone. A normal biceps tendon is connected strongly to the bone
When do you need to call us about your shoulder pain?
If you are unsure of the cause of your shoulder pain, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek medical attention. Treatment of these conditions must be directed at the specific cause of your problem. Some signs that you should be seen by a doctor include:
- Inability to carry objects or use the arm
- The injury that causes deformity of the joint
- Shoulder pain that occurs at night or while resting
- Shoulder pain that persists beyond a few days
- Inability to raise the arm
- Swelling or significant bruising around the joint or arm
- Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth
- Any other unusual symptom
What are the treatments for shoulder pain?
The treatment of shoulder pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.