Pain 101: Shoulder Pain
What is Shoulder Pain?
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body and as a result there can be many different causes of shoulder pain. Shoulder pain itself can be one of the most debilitating forms of pain and can cause significant limitations in one’s daily life.
Shoulder pain may result from a variety of causes including a falling injury, straining to reach an object, lifting something heavy or throwing a ball. However, the majority of shoulder pain or problems are a result of gradual irritation over time. This may be due to repetitive use of the arm, poor posture causing stress on the shoulder, or muscle imbalances such as tight anterior muscles and weak posterior muscles. If left untreated, minor irritations in the shoulder often lead to greater problems over time.
Types of Shoulder Pain
Tendonitis/Tendinopathy is an inflammation of a tendon. As this condition progresses, it becomes very painful and difficult to move the shoulder, particularly reaching up or across the body. In severe cases this can progress to a “frozen shoulder,” where a person loses some or all of their normal range of motion.
Bursitis is an irritation or inflammation of the fluid filled sack or “bursa” that cushions the tendons and joints. When the bursa becomes irritated the shoulder may become painful and stiff.
Arthritis occurs when the tissue or cartilage which protects the joints wears down. This can cause stiff or painful movement.
Rotator Cuff Tear or injury can occur when the muscles that move the shoulder joint weaken or tear, leading to weakness, pain and loss of motion.
Postural Dysfunction is a common cause of shoulder pain. The increased use of computers and extended periods sitting often leads to muscle imbalances in the shoulder which over time leads to injury and pain.
Impingement is a common condition of the shoulder where the shoulder tendons and bursa are impinged from the bones of the shoulder, leading to inflammation and pain. This often leads to pain with reaching overhead and lifting or carrying.
STEPS TO SHOULDER PAIN RELIEF
It is important when you are experiencing shoulder pain to limit your activity and rest so that your shoulder can heal.
Apply cold packs to your shoulder to help decrease pain and inflammation in the joints and muscles. To prevent damage to skin and surrounding tissue, cold packs should only be applied in 15 minute intervals.
If you don’t have increased pain with movement, stretching and increasing the range of motion of your shoulder can help loosen up the muscles in your shoulder and decrease pain.
Physical therapy consists of hands-on treatment to loosen muscles and joints, education on proper posture and movement to decrease pain, instruction on stretching and strengthening exercises to restore mobility and strength, and modalities such as electrical stimulation, cold/heat, and ultrasound.
SHOULDER PAIN EXERCISES
Following are a few exercises you can perform that may help alleviate pain. Please go to LIFE+ for more videos that may help you. Please consult your physician before trying these, and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.