The joints in our shoulders are very vulnerable to damage that can lead to significant pain and stiffness. The CDC says that around one in ten adults will experience some sort of shoulder or arm pain in any given thirty days. The most common causes for arm or shoulder pain are rotator cuff injuries, labrum damage and shoulder impingement.
These are the three most common conditions that lead to arm and shoulder pain. Your shoulder is made up of a number of joints, tendons and muscles. Because it is a highly mobile part of the body, it is also very vulnerable to injury. Each of these injuries involve roughly the same area, but different problems:
• Labrum damage refers to tears in the soft tissue that makes up your shoulder socket. Your labrum can be injured during physical activity.
• Rotator cuff injuries are injuries to the group of tendons that hold your shoulder together.
• Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons in the shoulder become inflamed. This injury is characterized by a rubbing between the tendon and the bursa in the area that is felt when you try to lift your arm.
Shoulder problems can sometimes have overlapping symptoms that can make them trickier to diagnose. Symptoms can include:
• Pain when moving the shoulder or lifting.
• Popping, grinding, or catching sensations when you move the shoulder.
• Weakness and instability in the joint. It may feel like the joint is “slipping” when you move your shoulder or arm.
• Vague aching feelings, even when the shoulder is not moving.
• A decreased range of motion.
Shoulder injuries can occur after either repetitive motion that causes wear over time or an acute trauma. A few causes of acute injuries:
• A direct blow to the shoulder, such as a football tackle.
• A fall on an outstretched arm.
• A sudden pull on the shoulder joints, such as an attempt to lift a heavy object.
• A violent overhead reach, such as one to grab a ball out of the air.
Jobs or sports that involve repetitive reaching can lead to tears as a repetitive stress injury.
Methods for finding the cause of arm and shoulder pain are more advanced than ever. With a sound diagnosis, we can treat the root cause of your shoulder pain and help you regain your mobility. A diagnosis will include:
• An analysis of your medical history. We’ll go over the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and discuss the possible causes of your pain.
• A physical examination. We’ll look at issues like your pain triggers and levels, your ability to move your shoulder, and any other issues.
• Diagnostic tests. Imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound can show us what is going on with the soft tissue of the shoulder and reveal any damage, fluid buildup or inflammation.
After finding the source of your pain, we can create a treatment plan that will help you heal and get back to your regular activities. Treatments can include:
• Rest of the affected shoulder. Avoiding activities like reaching or lifting for a period of time can give your body time to heal.
• Medication. Medications like anti-inflammatories can curb pain and inflammation.
• Physical therapy. Therapy will start with a focus on restoring the normal motion of your shoulder. After that, we can focus on decreasing any tightness in the area and building strength in the muscles of the rotator cuff to prevent future injuries.
• Steroid injections. These can help relieve inflammation and speed healing.
Are painful arm and shoulder conditions interfering with your daily activities? We can help. Our professionals have the skill and experience to diagnose the cause of your pain and create a personalized treatment plan to give you relief. Call for an appointment today.