We use our shoulders, a complex joint, for mundane day-to-day activities. Shoulder pain arises from the shoulder joint or the surrounding muscles, ligaments or tendons. The pain worsens when you perform certain activities or movements with the affected arm or shoulder.
Leaving the pain untreated will affect your mobility by causing instability of joints and impingement of soft tissues.
Studies show that repeated or overuse of the shoulder can cause pain and progress shoulder-related ailments. Therefore it is always advisable to seek early clinical examination and appropriate treatment before the pain and the underlying cause progress. Keep reading to know more about the effective approaches for shoulder pain treatment.
Common Causes of Shoulder Pain
The shoulder is composed of three bones: the humerus (upper bone), Clavicle(collarbone) and scapula (shoulder blade).
Persistent pain in the shoulder can be concerning, especially when you don’t know the root cause of it. It could be due to excess stress, sprain or even when you sleep on one side. Here are some common causes of shoulder pain.
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
Most Injuries to rotator cuffs occur due to a singular injury like a fall or repeated stress on the shoulder over time. It will damage or irritate the tendons and lead to shoulder pain.
- Frozen Shoulder
Adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder may develop after an injury or traumatic event. Your body will form excessive scar tissue or adhesions in your shoulder joints, causing pain and stiffness.
Tendons attach the muscles to the bones. Tendinitis is the inflammatory condition of the tendons that induces friction between the joints. It will trigger pain in the shoulder accompanied by a popping noise.
Bursae are fluid-filled sacs located in the shoulder’s joints. They serve as the cushion to the bones and prevent friction between them. Overuse or injury to the joints will cause inflammation, resulting in shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain could also be an indication of arthritis. Among the different types of arthritis, the most common form, osteoarthritis, causes wear and tear of the cartilage. It will result in symptoms like pain, stiffness and swelling that will progress over time.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Pain
- Rest and Ice
It is an easy yet effective treatment for shoulder pain incurred from strenuous activities. Here’s the simple formula
- Rest – To keep the shoulder away from vigorous or stressful activities, opt for immobilization in the initial stages.
- Ice – Applying ice or cold packs to the painful shoulder to reduce swelling and stiffness. Wrap the ice cubes in a towel before applying so they will not agitate the skin cells.
- Activity changes
Apart from rest and applying ice packs, treatment for shoulder pain generally involves altering your activities to improve the strength and flexibility of your shoulder joints. Common suggestions include avoiding overexerting actions or overdoing activities in which you normally do not engage to prevent further damage.
- Physical Therapy
Research shows that physical therapy is one of the initial approaches for shoulder pain that will alleviate symptoms like stiffness. The program includes healthy exercises and restrains you from certain movements or sports activities that aggravate the shoulder pain. The therapist will help you create a tailor-made plan to provide long-lasting relief and let you get back to your active life.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Your healthcare professional might prescribe Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen to relieve swelling and pain in the shoulder. Also, painkillers like paracetamol help control the pain while you work to restore the function and mobility of your shoulder.
However, take the pain medications only as directed by the physician. They are not considered the long-term treatment for shoulder pain as they may cause adverse effects in individuals with high blood pressure and cardiac or kidney diseases.
Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Pain
Surgery is rarely required and is only recommended to resolve severe shoulder problems. However, most patients respond positively to conventional treatment approaches like rest, medication and exercise.
On the other hand, certain shoulder problems like recurring or repeated episodes of dislocations and major tears in the rotator cuff aren’t healed from rest or exercises. In such cases, surgery should be intervened early to attain complete recovery from pain. Common surgical methods include
Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure to resolve the damage within the shoulder tissues and relieve severe pain.
- Rotator Cuff Repair
Surgery to treat rotator cuff tear involves reattaching the tendon to the head of the upper arm bone. If it’s a partial tear, the surgery will involve only trimming and debridement (smoothing procedure). However, a complete tear is resolved by stitching the tendon to its original position.
- Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Shoulder replacement surgery effectively removes the source of pain and immobility by replacing damaged joints or tissues with prostheses (Artificial components).
Alternative Treatments for Shoulder Pain
Acupuncture is the healthiest alternative treatment option for shoulder pain, where thin, sterile needles are inserted into specific body parts. It will alleviate the pain by balancing the body’s energy and stimulating the pressure points to release endorphins.
- Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care involves corrective measures of approach to treating shoulder pain. It means the therapy focuses on joints, bones, cartilage, ligaments,t tendons and every tissue to locate the source of pain and completely ease the pain.
- Massage Therapy
A good massage therapy will boost blood circulation through gentle and rhythmic hand motion. It also brings essential nutrients to the painful shoulder to reduce inflammation and break up the formation of scar tissue that is causing pain.
Your shoulder comprises muscles, joints and tendons that work and coordinate to give you complete mobility. When something goes wrong with these tissues, it can lead to shoulder pain. Even though it is a common problem, shoulder pain can keep you from engaging in activities that you enjoy, making it challenging to do simple tasks and even making it difficult to sleep.
Treatment for shoulder pain depends on the severity and cause of the condition. Therefore if the shoulder pain is consistent for a long time, it is important to consult an orthopaedic specialist for early diagnosis.
Nonetheless, non-surgical approaches are recommended to reduce swelling and decrease pain. In a nutshell, a personalised treatment and self-care routine will meet your individual needs and effectively restore the optimal functionality of your shoulder.