January 2, 2020
Shoulder pain isn’t as widely talked about as other types of pain, but when it strikes, it can be just as debilitating. Pain in the shoulder happens for a variety of reasons, from conditions that cause pain in other areas of the body (like the back and the neck) to shoulder injuries. Just like these other types of pain, the exact cause of your shoulder pain may not always be known. However, there are gentle activities that you can try, along with your pain management plan, to help you live a more pain free life.
Understanding Shoulder Pain Causes
Your doctor at Riverside Pain Physicians can help you determine the possible cause of your shoulder pain. Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain include:
- Osteoarthritis. This painful condition is commonly thought to affect the more prominent joints, like the hips or the wrist, but shoulder osteoarthritis is also a problem. When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage that covers the ends of your bones has worn down. Osteoarthritis can develop with age, but it can also be caused by injuries.
- Problems with the rotator cuff. Rotator cuff injuries and conditions are extremely common causes of shoulder pain. Your rotator cuff is what allows you to move your shoulder. Falls and other injuries can cause your rotator cuff to tear, resulting in weakness and pain. Aging or injury can sometimes cause rotator cuff impingement, when pinched tendons within the shoulder lead to inflammation and pain. Your rotator cuff tendons can also have calcium deposits (a condition known as calcific tendinitis), that also results in inflammation and pain.
- “Frozen shoulder.” Frozen shoulder is the more common term for adhesive capsulitis, a problem with limited range of motion, stiffening, and pain in your shoulder. Frozen shoulder comes in stages, getting gradually worse and then gradually better. The tightening and inflammation of connective tissue in your shoulder causes the “freezing,” or movement limiting, experience. However, doctors aren’t always sure why some people get frozen shoulder. It does seem to occur more frequently in people who have had surgeries or medical conditions that prevent shoulder movement.
- Referred pain from other parts of the body or from other conditions. Believe it or not, experiencing pain in your shoulder doesn’t always mean that the pain is actually coming from your shoulder. Sometimes, the pain is “referred” from another painful part of the body, such as your back. The nature of the pain — if it’s sudden and acute or gradual and chronic — can help doctors uncover the true cause. If you have a condition like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, then those diseases can also be contributing to your shoulder pain.
Healing Shoulder Pain
X-rays and lab tests can’t always diagnose the cause of shoulder pain, but a careful evaluation with your healthcare provider will rule-out specific problems and lead to a plan of action for your pain. Your doctor might recommend:
- Therapies to help you manage your pain and better live your life, such as occupational therapy.
- Cold and hot therapy, letting you alternate between ice packs and heating devices for pain.
- Gentle stretching activities.
- Temporary, limited medications, such as anti-inflammatories or certain kinds of injections.
Most cases of shoulder pain will eventually get better. If you have a long-term illness, like arthritis, then managing the condition can help reduce your shoulder pain. The doctors at Riverside Pain Physicians have the tools you need to manage and treat your pain no matter the cause. Contact our office today or visit one of our locations in Jacksonville for more information on how we can treat your shoulder pain.
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