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Understanding Shoulder Pain-Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

03 June 2024

Understanding Shoulder Pain-Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Understanding Shoulder Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Shoulder pain is a widespread issue affecting millions globally, causing discomfort that can hinder daily life. From minor strains to more severe injuries, knowing the reasons behind, symptoms, and treatments for shoulder pain is vital for its proper management and prevention.

Causes of Shoulder Pain:

1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: Damage to the muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint, often due to overuse, trauma, or wear and tear.

2. Frozen Shoulder: Characterised by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, potentially caused by inflammation, injury, or underlying health conditions like diabetes.

3. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome: Compression or pinching of the rotator cuff tendons during shoulder movement, leading to inflammation and pain, often seen in repetitive overhead activities.

4. Osteoarthritis: A degenerative joint disease affecting the shoulder and other joints, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility as cartilage wears down.

5. Bursitis: Inflammation of fluid-filled sacs around joints due to repetitive motion, trauma, or infection, resulting in shoulder pain and swelling.

6. Fracture shoulder fracture, often resulting from a fall or direct blow, involves a break in one of the bones of the shoulder, such as the clavicle, proximal humerus and scapula.

7. Biceps tendonitis: Biceps tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon that connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder, commonly caused by repetitive overhead motions or overuse.

8. Bankart lesions: Bankart lesions are injuries to the labrum of the shoulder joint, typically occurring when the shoulder dislocates, leading to pain and recurrent instability.

9. Shoulder instability: Shoulder instability occurs when the structures that surround the shoulder joint do not work to maintain the ball within its socket, often due to repetitive stress or previous dislocations, causing pain and functional impairment.

Symptoms of Shoulder Pain:

1. Pain Ranging from mild discomfort to severe agony, localised to the shoulder or radiating down the arm.

2. Stiffness Reduced range of motion, making everyday tasks like reaching overhead difficult.

3. Weakness Muscle weakness in the shoulder, particularly noticeable when lifting objects or using arm strength.

4. Swelling and Tenderness: Inflammation in and around the shoulder joint causing swelling and tenderness, especially with movement or touch.

Treatments for Shoulder Pain:

Pain in the shoulder or stiffness can be due to various pathology of the shoulder ranging from frozen shoulder to rotator cuff tear or a degenerative condition. A proper physical examination by a joint specialist or orthopaedic surgeon is required to tailor the treatment protocol which includes:

1. Rest and Immobilization: In case of minor injury to the musculature of shoulder joint. Avoiding activities exacerbating pathology and using immobiliser or slings to give rest to the soft tissue will help in getting relieved of the symptoms.

2. Physical Therapy: Tailored exercise programs to improve shoulder strength, flexibility, and range of motion, including stretching and strengthening exercises.

3. Medications Ranging from anti-inflammatory to muscle relaxants and intralesional and intraarticular injection as guided by the surgeon.

4. Surgery For impingement, recurrent dislocation, Bankart lesion, rotator cuff tear and fracture.

5. Lifestyle Modifications: Adjusting daily habits, maintaining good posture, and incorporating physiotherapy exercises for rehabilitation as directed by the physiotherapist for strength of the shoulder to get back to the painless joint and good range of motion.

In summary, shoulder pain can have various causes, from injuries to degenerative conditions. Timely medical intervention and lifestyle adjustments are essential for effective management and prevention of shoulder problems, promoting optimal shoulder health in the long term.

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Dr. Pankaj Bajaj

MBBS, MCh orthopedics , DNB orthopedics , MS orthopedics

Know Your Doctor Extensive experience of more than 25 years in......read more