Common Shoulder Pain Causes and Treatments

Shoulder pain can make simple acts like housework, brushing your hair, getting dressed or grabbing something overhead seem like a monumental task. Playing sports like tennis or golf can become impossible.

What we think of as one joint – the shoulder – is really a complicated combination of joints and muscles. That together, make up a strong and very mobile part of our body.  But it sometimes takes more than its share of wear and tear.

Shoulder pain is common from overuse injuries, especially in sports and certain occupations, from trauma, such as dislocation, separation, or cartilage tears and disease, like arthritis.

Should pain may present with muscle spasms, numbness or tingling, shoulder or arm weakness, a sensation of locking, catching or grinding, shoulder stiffness, warmth or redness, swelling or visible deformity, among other symptoms.

Shoulder pain can be achy, sharp, throbbing, radiating or burning, ranging from being a nuisance to excruciating. It can come on gradually or suddenly from multiple conditions.

Shoulder Injuries

Many injuries that cause pain involve the rotator cuff, such as tendonitis, impingement and tears. Frozen shoulder is another common condition that presents as pain, stiffness and reduced range of motion in the shoulder joint. It has no known cause, and typically develops in people ages 40 to 60, and more often in those with medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol or thyroid disorders.

Sometimes shoulder pain can be exactly what it appears, but in some situations, the pain is associated with another underlying issue. This can be the case with shoulder blade pain, which is sometimes associated with cervical spine and disc issues.

Treatment Options

For many shoulder patients, self-care is the first course of treatment. RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), limiting activity or anti-inflammatory pain killers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen can help.

If pain persists or worsens, it is time to see the experienced team of doctors at Orthopedic Centers of Colorado (OCC). It’s important to seek help before any condition can worsen to the point of creating more complex and serious issues. Our specialists will conduct a physical exam, review your medical history and, may order tests. Tests like x-rays, CT scans MRIs, EMGs or ultrasounds to determine the source of your shoulder pain.

There are multiple conservative treatment options for shoulder pain, which is where OCC’s doctors always start. Immobilization, steroid injections and prescription medicines are just a few. Trained physical or occupational therapists work toward the goal of helping patients regain maximum mobility and functionality as quickly as possible.

For many, however, shoulder surgery may be the only means of healing completely and successfully. Arthroscopy can resolve many issues less-invasively with very positive outcomes.

No one should have to live with shoulder pain. OCC’s skilled team of highly-experienced physicians, surgeons, physical therapists and others are dedicated to providing patients with individualized care. Our innovative treatment programs revolve around each patient’s specific needs, with the goal of delivering outcomes that improve quality of life. When it comes to shoulder care, you can turn to us for personalized, compassionate care. Our offices are conveniently located across the front range and it’s easy to make an appointment. Find the provider that fits your needs and contact us today.

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