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Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Most people, at some point in their life will experience shoulder pain. Almost all of us have exclaimed, “Ah, I pulled my shoulder!” after lifting something too heavy or moving our body in a strange way. Other times, we end up hurting our shoulder in a more serious way, like an auto accident. Yet not enough people know the precise cause of their shoulder pain, as well as what they can do to rectify it. This is particularly important if you experience frequent shoulder pain, or work in a profession that involves strenuous physical activity.

Perhaps one of the most versatile parts of our body, our shoulders are made of bones and held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Most shoulder pain stems from the breakdown of soft tissue surrounding those muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Whether through work, or sports injuries, the more we hurt our shoulders, the greater chance there is that they’re going to be a source of pain in the future. This is also compounded by age, which naturally breaks down the bones and muscles in our shoulders and throughout the rest of our body—especially if we don’t take good care of them.  

Keep reading to learn the most common causes of shoulder pain, as well as what you can do about them, and make sur to visit QualCare Rehabilitation for persistent shoulder problems and other physical issues.

What’s at the Source of My Shoulder Pain?

  • Dislocation: Your shoulder becomes dislocated when the ball at the top of the upper arm bone pops out of the socket. If this is what you are experiencing, there is a good chance it will be extremely painful, and you will notice right away. Ice your shoulder, and take anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce pain and swelling. Although some people will claim a shoulder can simply be “popped” back in on its own, it’s still a good idea to seek the assistance of a medical professional, as resetting your shoulder in the wrong way can cause additional problems. If your shoulder is easily or frequently dislocated, you should consider seeking treatment from a qualified physician of physical therapist, as it may be a sign of a larger issues.
  • Separation: Technically not an actual injury of the shoulder but of the AC joint, your shoulder becomes “separated” when the ligaments between the collarbone and the shoulder blade are torn. Again, ice your shoulder and take anti-inflammatory painkillers if this happens to you. A shoulder separation is similar to a dislocation, with pain ranging from mild to severe depending on the extent of the injury. Shoulder separations often heal with rest and time, though in more severe cases, it may be necessary to seek surgery.
  • Torn Rotator Cuff: A tear in the tissues connecting muscle to tendons around the shoulder joint, a torn rotator cuff can be the result of repetitive strain injuries or simple aging. While surgery may be the best course of action down the line, your doctor is likely to recommend physical therapy to treat the problem in the immediate future. Other than that, you will want to avoid raising your arm too high, and avoiding any strenuous physical activity that could aggravate your shoulder further.
  • Bursitis: A bursa is a small, liquid-filled sac that helps protect the shoulder and other joints. When the bursa is inflamed, it may result in a bursitis. Bursitis is extremely painful, and you will want to avoid using your shoulder as much as possible if you are experiencing this condition. Apply ice to the affected area for 48 hours, as well as dry moist heat. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help, though of the problem doesn’t go away you may want to ask your doctor for a cortisone shot. Physical therapy may also be necessary in some cases.
  • Tendinitis: Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder or other areas. Most doctors recommend rest, ice, compression, and elevation for tendinitis, in addition to anti-inflammatory medication. Physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and surgery, may all be options in more extreme cases.
  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, commonly known as OA, is a disease related to the breakdown of the cartilage in the shoulder and other areas. Individuals with jobs that involve repetitive stress as well as older people are commonly at risk for OA. Although there is no cure for OA, nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs and creams have been known to help, as well as light physical activity, stretching, and weight loss. Surgery is usually a last resort for OA.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis, commonly known as RA, is an autoimmune disease in which one or more joints becomes inflamed. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and biologic response modifiers, may all be prescribed to treat RA. While there is no cure for RA, surgery and physical therapy may also be an option.
  • Frozen Shoulder: A frozen shoulder is the complete inability to move one’s shoulder because of a lack of synovial fluid in the joint. Usually, over-the-counter medication and stretching are able to take care of this condition, with steroid injections and medical procedures only being used as a last resort.
  • Other diseases: Shoulder pain may also be caused by diseases affecting the heart, liver, gallbladder, and spine around the neck region. If you feel shoulder pain but believe it could be connected to another illness, seek medical treatment and attempt to identify what the root cause of the problem is as soon as possible.

Don’t Shoulder Your Pain Any Longer, Contact QualCare Rehabilitation

While shoulder pain can come in many forms and feel debilitating in multiple ways, there’s no reason it has to control your life. As a Houston injury rehab center devoted to making sure you not only live but thrive in spite of injuries, our experienced physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists will do everything in our power to help at least manage your pain, if not eliminate it. Contact QualCare Rehabilitation today to learn more about treatment options, and show your pain who’s boss.

Call (713) 588-0042 now to schedule at appointment, or contact our medical professionals online.