Shoulder pain can be caused by dislocation or impingement. It can also stem from other wear-and-tear conditions or acute injuries. Some of the more common causes include:
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis that’s caused by everyday wear on the joints, can lead to swelling and stiffness. Arthritic symptoms may also occur over time in a shoulder that’s sustained a sports or workplace injury. If you try to avoid shoulder movements to decrease pain, the soft tissues in your shoulder joints may stiffen even more.
You can break bones in your shoulder, such as your collarbone or shoulder blade, in high-impact injuries like car accidents or sports injuries. A fracture may also happen during a fall.
Tendons in your shoulder can become inflamed and irritated, a condition called tendonitis. Tendons can also tear from an injury or as a result wear and use over time. Tearing your rotator cuff or biceps tendon are the most common type of tendon tears.
When the connective tissue surrounding your bones, ligaments, and tendons freezes up, it’s called frozen shoulder. This condition restricts you from moving your shoulder.
Dr. Harwood performs a thorough evaluation to determine the root cause of your pain. He asks you when the pain began, how you treated it, and other questions, then he examines your shoulder, looking for anything out of the ordinary, such as swelling, stiffness, muscle tenderness, or a deformity. Dr. Harwood may move your arm and shoulder in different ways to test your range of motion.
He may also take X-rays, or perhaps other tests such as an MRI or CT scan, to get a look at the anatomical structure of your shoulder.
Dr. Harwood may prescribe oral medication or steroid injections to alleviate discomfort and inflammation in your shoulder. Treatment also typically involves a combination of rest and changing the way you perform your daily activities. Depending on your shoulder issue, physical therapy may be recommended to provide gentle range-of-motion exercises.
Some types of shoulder injuries don’t respond well to exercises and require surgery for resolution and pain relief. Surgery may be the best option if you have severe joint or cartilage damage in your shoulder. Depending on your situation, Dr. Harwood may opt for one of several shoulder surgery options, including arthroscopic shoulder repair or total shoulder replacement.
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