Health and Wellness

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of conditions. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to address the problem right away.

Although you may not have any pain in your neck, back or arm, the pain you feel in your shoulder is most likely a serious and potentially dangerous problem. The three most common causes of shoulder pain are rotator cuff tears, adhesive capsulitis, and bursitis. Rotator cuff tears are the most common cause of shoulder pain and it often go unnoticed for a long time.

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can be a persistent dull and nagging sensation in the upper arm or shoulder area. It can be easily differentiated from neck pain as it is related to the movement of shoulders, i.e. it will increase and decrease with shoulder movements, especially overhead activities. The other signs to identify shoulder pain is if your shoulder movements are reduced.

If you find it difficult to scratch/wash your back, comb your hair, or reach your back pocket. Shoulder pain can happen because of various reasons, vary from person to person depending on the activities he/she is involved in, for e.g. sports, manual job, etc.. It can be a single major injury or multiple minor injuries because of repetitive usage patterns. Also, degenerative changes in various parts of the shoulder can lead to shoulder pain.

How Shoulder Pain Occur?

Shoulder pain is usually characterized by a persistent dull and nagging, painful sensation that may arise from the shoulder joint itself or from other muscles, ligaments and/or tendon that surrounds the shoulder area. Shoulder pain arising from the shoulder joint itself worsens with the movement of the shoulder or upper arm of the person having this symptom.

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

There are various causes for shoulder pain and the reason may vary from person to person depending upon the physical activities that he/she is involved in. The causes of shoulder pain may be direct as well as indirect. Various diseases and other conditions, such as heart problems or gallbladder diseases, may indirectly lead to shoulder pain and such a condition is known as referred pain.

Referred shoulder pain rarely causes much problems during the movement of the patient shoulder. Direct causes of shoulder pain may be because of one or more major or minor injuries in the shoulder area. Because of aging, various degenerative changes in different parts of the shoulder can cause shoulder pain.

13 major causes of shoulder pain are;
  1. Impingement
  2. Bursitis
  3. Dislocated shoulder
  4. Osteoarthritis
  5. Rheumatoid arthritis
  6. Tendinitis
  7. Septic Arthritis
  8. Rotator cuff injury
  9. Frozen shoulder
  10. Sprains and Strains
  11. Multiple sclerosis
  12. Avascular necrosis
  13. Ankylosing spondylitis

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How to Diagnose Shoulder Pain?

The first step towards the treatment of shoulder pain involves a thorough analysis of the patient’s medical history followed by several clinical diagnoses, which involves imaging study by:

  • X-ray imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound imaging
  • Diagnostic arthroscopy

How to Treat Shoulder Pain?

Once the cause of shoulder pain is found out by various clinical diagnoses, the treatment for this condition is started under the guidance of an experienced doctor. The treatment for shoulder pain involves various pain relief medications and physiotherapy. The doctor might recommend taking rest and avoiding any strenuous physical activity that involves movement of the shoulder in order to prevent any further injury.

Besides this, a few exercises may help the patients by improving their shoulder flexibility and mobility. Injecting cortisone into the affected area can help to reduce the inflammation. Applying hot and cold packs on the affected area gives temporary relief from pain. Sometimes, the doctor may advise for surgical treatment if the medical treatment for this condition is found to fail.

It must be kept in mind that the treatment for shoulder pain varies from person to person depending on injury or the cause of the pain. Surgical treatment for this condition is not the first option, and hence this treatment is used only if all other medical treatments for this condition fail.

With patients suffering from shoulder pain because of arthritis or osteoarthritis, the treatment is slightly different. For such patients, shoulder pain arises because of a damaged shoulder joint. Surgical methods of treatment such as realignment bone surgery and joint replacement surgery are the two best methods that have been proved beneficial for treating such patients. After surgery, the patients are recommended to have rest until the condition heals.

Who Should Take Should Pain Treatment?

There is no age restriction as far as the treatment for shoulder pain is concerned. Patients of any age who are having a persistent dull and nagging, painful sensation in their shoulder area are eligible for this treatment. It is always recommendable for such patients to go for home remedies initially. If such home remedial methods cannot give fruitful results, then the patients can seek medical help from an experienced doctor.

Who Should Not Take Should Pain Treatment?

There are no eligibility criteria for patients to seek treatment for shoulder pain. Anybody who does not have shoulder pain is not eligible to treat shoulder pain. It should be remembered that shoulder pain may arise both because of an injury in the shoulder area and a few indirect causes and such a condition is known as ‘Referred pain’.

Hence, a proper diagnosis is necessary for an appropriate treatment to begin. Patients having referred to pain should be given treatment for the underlying cause that has led to shoulder pain. Such patients of referred shoulder pain are not eligible for treatment of shoulder pain, but they need to be treated for the underlying cause of the pain.

Best Painkiller For Shoulder Pain

There are several over-the-counter painkillers that can get relief from shoulder pain. Medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, may be prescribed for controlling the pain.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Using Painkillers?

The treatment for shoulder pain is more or less safe. However, the anti-inflammatory painkillers prescribed during this treatment may bear some side effects. The common side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, bleeding in the stomach (ulcers), headache, and indigestion. The side effect of stomach upset can be reduced by taking the medicines after a meal.

Cortisone pills used to treat problems of shoulder pain have side effects such as weight gain, elevated blood sugar levels, osteoporosis, elevated blood pressure, thinning of skin, cataracts and decreased resistance against infections. It is important to consult a doctor if any of these side effects become serious enough.

Shoulder Pain Remedies

Shoulder pain is a common joint condition that can affect anyone. The condition can result from daily activities and may involve muscles, tissues, shoulder blades, and nerves. The pain can be mild or excruciating, depending on the severity of the underlying damage. There are a few measures you can follow at home to relieve shoulder pain;

  • Pain Relief Medication: You can ask your physician to prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen to get relief from shoulder pain.
  • Apply Heat: Taking a hot shower or applying a hot compress on the affected region of the shoulder can ease the pain.
  • Apply cold compression: A cold compress can reduce pain and prevent swelling in the shoulder region. However, ensure that you wrap the cold pack in a towel or a soft cloth before applying on the shoulder.
  • Epsom salt bath: Bathing with warm water mixed with Epsom salt can also soothe the shoulder pain.
  • Massage the affected region gently: Gently massaging or kneading the affected area of the shoulder is an effective way of easing the shoulder pain.

Shoulder Pain Treatment Guidelines

Before the treatment for shoulder pain is started, it is important that the cause of the pain is properly diagnosed. For some issues of shoulder pain, they can be treated by mere home remedies and rest. However, for others, if such home treatments cannot give effective results, then the doctor switches to medical and/or surgical treatments if necessary.

Surgical treatment is considered as the ultimate and best treatment for problems of shoulder pain. The permanence of the treatment of shoulder pain depends on the injury encountered by the patient. If in case no improvements are seen from home remedies or medical treatment, only then the doctor recommends for surgical treatment.

It should be remembered that shoulder pain may be because of both direct and indirect causes (also known as referred pain). With referred pain, the underlying cause needs to be treated. The post-treatment guidelines for shoulder pain include;

  • Giving rest to the affected shoulder
  • Applying hot and cold packs to the affected area for temporary relief
  • Avoiding strenuous activities that may cause further injury
  • Taking the prescribed medicines regularly on time
  • Physiotherapy
  • Practising exercises that help in improving shoulder mobility and flexibility
  • Using braces
  • Slings and supports that helps in keeping the shoulder in position and facilitate faster recovery.

How to Prevent Shoulder Pain?

Practising simple shoulder exercises can help prevent injury in the shoulder region. The exercises help stretch and strengthen the muscles. Similarly, performing simple range-of-motion exercises every day can help you prevent a frozen shoulder.

A physiotherapist can help you with these exercises. People who have had shoulder injury before should apply a cold pack after exercising for at least 15 minutes to prevent injuries in the future.

There are certain measures that you consider helping ease your shoulder pain;

  1. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
  2. Opt for heat or cold therapy
  3. Correct posture
  4. Limit pressure on the affected shoulder joint
  5. Take a rest
  6. Perform a few simple range-of-motion exercises
  7. Consider complementary treatments like acupuncture

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Shoulder Pain?

The time taken for a patient of shoulder pain to recover depends upon injury received. For minor injuries like strain or sprain, it takes about a week’s time for the pain to recover.

Shoulder pain resulting from serious issues such as fractures, rotator cuff tear, dislocation and others may require surgical treatment and may take a few months to recover. It is important to consult a doctor if the pain persists or increases even after the treatment.

Shoulder Pain Treatment Cost in India

In different parts of India, the price of shoulder pain treatment is different. The average cost of consulting a doctor regarding such issue may range from Rs. 400 to Rs. 700 (per consultation). The costs of medical and surgical treatments are additional. In India, the cost of full treatment for shoulder pain can be as high as Rs. 6,500. This treatment is available in almost all cities and towns in India.

Shoulder Pain Diagnosis

Shoulder pain can be diagnosed only after a thorough history taking and clinical examination. However, some imaging studies can be very helpful, like.

  • X-rays: Through an x-ray, one can view the shoulder in many views
  • Ultrasound: With ultrasound, you can also check the damaged caused to the tendons and muscles of the shoulder, but the quality of reporting depends upon the expertise of the doctor.
  • MRI: MRI gives a clear picture of the shoulder as it shows everything related to a shoulder joint that is joints, vessels, tendons and muscles that too from different angles.
  • Diagnostic Arthroscopy: A surgical procedure often used by orthopaedic surgeons to diagnose and treat issues inside a joint. Arthroscopy has the enormous advantage that one can use it to diagnose as well as treat at the same time.

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