Chronic Pain

Get Help for Shoulder Pain

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Shoulder problems can affect people of all ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, and genders. The majority of shoulder issues are the result of a breakdown of soft tissues that are located in the shoulder region. Repeated movements of the shoulder, and overuse, can lead to these soft tissues breaking down quicker as people age. Playing sports or performing manual labor may also lead to shoulder problems. The region where shoulder pain is felt can vary from one little area, to a more broad area, or even down the entire arm.


Pain that reaches the shoulder by way of nerve travel may be a result of a disease, such as: heart disease, liver disease, gallbladder disease, or a disease of the neck or spine. Issues with the shoulder are typically diagnosed by doctors via a physical examination, review of the patient’s medical history, and various tests such as x rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasounds.


The most widespread shoulder problems include:

  • Arthritis
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Rotator cuff disease
  • Shoulder separation 
  • Frozen shoulder

Treating shoulder pain varies depending on what the diagnosed problem is. Below we describe the specifics of how to properly treat the most common shoulder ailments.


Arthritis


Arthritis of the shoulder can be of two varieties. Osteoarthritis is most commonly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen and aspirin. Rheumatoid arthritis also required medication such as corticosteroids, and sometimes physical therapy.


Bone Fracture


Fractures are cracks that can be through the entire bone, or just a small part. Treatment may include movement of the bones back into the proper position to facilitate healing, immobilization of the broken bone in a sling or other apparatus, physical therapy, and possibly surgery.


Dislocation


Dislocation is first treated by the doctor pushing the ball of the upper arm back into the socket. Afterwards, the patient may be required to wear a sling or another apparatus to immobilize the shoulder, as well as standard rest, ice, and possibly specific exercises to strengthen muscles and increase the range of motion.


Rotator Cuff Inflammation


Rotator cuffs can become inflamed or tear from overuse or even simply from aging. As the body gets older, the tendons become less agile and eventually wear down, which can lead to tears, inflammation, swelling, and soreness. Treatments for injuries to the rotator cuff involve the standard rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications which also relieve swelling. In addition, one can receive cortisone injections, electrical stimulation / ultrasound, and perform gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. If the rotator cuff does not improve with the aforementioned treatments, surgery may be required.


Separation


Shoulder separation happens when the ligaments between the shoulder blade and collarbone are torn. Treatment includes rest, immobilization of the shoulder via a sling, ice, exercise, and possibly surgery in the case of severe tears.


Frozen Shoulder


A frozen shoulder is a unique ailment that restricts shoulder movement. Causes of frozen shoulder can include: infrequent use of the joint as a result of chronic pain, a lack of fluid in the shoulder to cushion the joint, or a worsening rheumatic disease. Treatment for a frozen shoulder includes gentle stretching exercises, heat therapy, medication to diminish swelling and pain, cortisone injections, electrical stimulation of the nerves and muscles, and possibly surgery.

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