What Is Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain is usually felt in the front of the shoulder, or at the top of the arm. Often, the pain is only felt when you move your arm in a certain way.
The pain may be deep and sharp, or there may be numbness, tingling or pins and needles. It may radiate down into the arm or up into the head, or there may be pain between the shoulder blades. Sometimes the pain may be caused by problems in the neck or spine, rather than the shoulder.
When Should I Seek Medical Help For My Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain is usually not life-threatening. In most cases, proper rest and medications will soothe your shoulder pain.
However, suppose your shoulder pain accompanies fever, bruising, inability to move your shoulder, heat, and tenderness around the joint, or pain that persists past a few weeks of home treatment. In that case, you should seek medical help. If your shoulder pain results from injury and you are bleeding, or you see exposed tissue, you should visit your doctor.
Sudden shoulder pain that is not caused by injury can be a symptom of a heart attack. Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
- pain in the neck or jaw
- Trouble breathing
If you notice signs of a heart attack, make sure you call 911 immediately.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Shoulder Injury
The shoulder’s ball-and-socket joint gives you great range of motion, but it comes at the expense of stability. The shoulder joint gets dislocated more often than any other joint in the body. And repeated stress from the way you use your shoulders on the job or playing sports can lead to tears and other injuries.
Ask yourself some questions to help you decide if you have a shoulder injury:
- Can you move your arm normally, or is your shoulder too stiff or painful?
- Do you feel like your shoulder could pop out of the socket?
- Is your shoulder strong enough for things you normally do?
You can treat some shoulder injuries at home for a few days with rest and ice. You can bandage it to hold it in place if necessary, and elevate it above the heart. But some injuries need professional help. Here are signs that you need to see a doctor right away:
- Your shoulder joint looks deformed.
- You canât use your shoulder at all.
- The pain is intense.
- The shoulder is swelling suddenly.
- Your arm or hand is weak or numb.
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What Are The Types Of Shoulder Bursitis
The different types of shoulder bursitis include:
- Chronic: Repeat injuries or repeated incidents of acute bursitis can cause chronic shoulder bursitis. Its the most common type of shoulder bursitis. You may have periods without symptoms and then have symptom flare-ups that last several months. Over time, this ongoing inflammation can cause arm and shoulder weakness. Many people learn how to adapt to the pain . This may lead to other regional pain .
- Acute: This type comes on suddenly, often from an accident or injury. Touching or moving the shoulder causes pain.
- Infectious : In rare cases, bacterial infections like staph infections cause infectious shoulder bursitis. The shoulder may look red or purple and feel warm to the touch. In this rare case, you may have a fever and feel sick. You may have severe shoulder pain.
What Causes Upper Back And Shoulder Pain
Pain between the shoulders can happen for many reasons, including:
- Poor posture which leads to muscle imbalances
- Picking up something too heavy such as a suitcase, box, child, or even the laundry
- Hunching over a computer all day
- Dysfunction occurring elsewhere in the body such as the lower cervical spine, upper thoracic spine, or rotator cuff
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Common Causes Of Shoulder Pain
Most cases of shoulder pain occur due to poor posture or muscle strains. The most common causes of this pain include:
- Short term injuries: These might occur due to overextending or overusing muscles in the shoulder. Symptoms typically only present in the injured joint.
- Referred pain from other areas of the body: Neck and back pain may trigger aching in the shoulder. Weakness in one muscle might cause the shoulder muscles to overcompensate, leading to pain.
- Injuries in the spine: These might include herniated disks, which put pressure on certain nerves. Some of these nerves lead to the shoulder.
- Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative condition that progresses over time as the cartilage wears down.
- Rheumatoid arthritis : RA is a long term inflammatory condition that can sometimes affect the shoulder. It occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and inflammation.
- Tears in the rotator cuff: This shoulder injury impairs a personâs ability to move, rotate, and lift their arm.
- Frozen shoulder: This term refers to an injury that limits mobility in the shoulder. Underuse, RA, and unusual tissue growth in the shoulder may cause frozen shoulder.
- Poor posture: Slumping over a computer, holding the body in an awkward position for extended periods, and craning the neck can all cause tension and pain in the shoulders. The pain may spread to the neck and back.
Sign And Symptoms Of Neck To Shoulder Pain :
Muscle spasm :
A spasm is a sudden, powerful, involuntary contraction of muscles. The muscles feel painful, stiff and knotted. If you have neck muscle spasms, you may not be able to move your neck, Your doctor or physiotherapist may call it acute torticollis or wry neck. Generally Paraspinal neck muscles, Trapezius muscle and related Shoulder muscles spasm are seen.
Muscle ache :
The neck and shoulder muscles are sore and may have hard knots that are tender to touch. Pain is often felt up the middle of the back of the neck , or it may ache on one side only.
Stiffness of Neck and Shoulder :
The neck and shoulder muscles are tight and if you spend too long in one position they feel even tighter. Neck stiffness can make it difficult or painful to move your neck. Shoulder joint stiffness is also available sometimes.
Radiating Nerve pain :
Radiating Pain from the neck can radiate down the arms, and sometimes, the legs. You may feel a sensation of pins and needles or tingling in your arms, which can be accompanied by numbness, burning or weakness.
Cervicogenic Headaches :
Cervicogenic Headaches are common in conjunction with neck problems. They are usually a dull aching type of headache, rather than sharp pain. While the headaches are often felt at the back of the head, the pain may also radiate to the sides, and even the front of the head.
Reduced range of motion :
Weakness of Neck /Shoulder muscles :
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Ice And Heat Application
Ice packs are most often used to reduce swelling and pain from an acute shoulder injury. They can also be used to treat shoulder overuse injuries .
In these cases, the ice is applied right after the overhead activity to minimize the onset of inflammation.
Heat pads are also used to treat chronic shoulder conditions, but generally before the overhead activity is performed. Heat can relax the muscles, ease stiffness, and reduce pain.
Before applying ice or heat, talk with your healthcare provider or physical therapist. Developing a specific plan for the timing and duration of each treatment is important so that you heal properly.
What Is Upper Back And Shoulder Pain
Upper back pain is pain that occurs between the shoulders, often because of a lack of muscle strength surrounding the shoulder blade and rotator cuff, resulting in poor mechanics of the shoulder and spinal joints.
Rarely, the spinal nerves can become compressed, sending inadequate signals to the upper extremity muscles.
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How Is A Shoulder Tendon Tear Diagnosed
Diagnosis of a shoulder tendon tear may begin with taking your medical history and performing a physical examination. During the examination, your doctor may:
- Look for areas of discomfort or pain in the shoulder
- Examine the shoulder joint’s range of motion and strength
An X-ray and a magnetic resonance imaging scan may be ordered if a rotator cuff tear is suspected. Your doctor will rule out other disorders that can produce similar symptoms, such as a pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder arthritis.
How Is Shoulder Pain Diagnosed
Your doctor will start with a physical exam to check for any structural problems and rule out anything that might involve your spine or neck.
Next, theyâll test your range of motion to see how strong and flexible your shoulder is. That will involve moving your arms in various ways, like above your head, across your body, or behind you, and rotating it 90 or 180 degrees.
Your doctor also might recommend one or more imaging tests to get a closer look:
- X-rays. These can help your doctor find bone spurs, arthritis, and other bone-related causes of your shoulder pain. Your doctor may also recommend an arthrogram, which involves a shot of dye to make the details show up more clearly.
- MRI scan. This uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to make detailed images of your shoulder.
- CT scan. This is a series of X-rays taken from different angles. When theyâre put together, they can give your doctor a better look at whatâs happening with your shoulder.
- Electromyography . This measures the electrical activity in your muscles to see if there are any problems with your nerves.
- Arthroscopy. This is a surgical procedure that lets a tiny fiber-optic camera show your doctor high-definition images of your shoulder. In some cases, your doctor may also be able to treat the problem during the procedure.
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What Home Remedies Medications And Physical Therapy Treat And Relieve Frozen Shoulder Pain
The treatment of a frozen shoulder usually requires an aggressive combination of antiinflammatory medications, for example:
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine for Frozen shoulder include
Without aggressive treatment, a frozen shoulder can be permanent.
Diligent physical therapy to treat a frozen shoulder can include ultrasound, electric stimulation, range-of-motion exercises, ice packs, and strengthening exercises. Physical therapy can take weeks to months for recovery, depending on the severity of the scarring of the tissues around the shoulder. It is very important for people with a frozen shoulder to avoid reinjuring the shoulder tissues during the rehabilitation period. Avoid sudden, jerking motions of or heavy lifting with the affected shoulder.
Anyone with limited motion of the shoulder joint should call their doctor.
Pain relief for a frozen shoulder usually requires an aggressive combination of anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injection into the shoulder, and physical therapy. Examples of medications that help relieve soreness, inflammation, and pain from frozen shoulder include NSAIDs , for example, ibuprofen, naproxen , diclofenac , and many others. Cortisone drugs can be used briefly, either orally or injected into the joint . Cold packs can be applied to the shoulder after exercise to minimize inflammation and pain after exercise.
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What Causes Shoulder Bursitis
Bursitis most commonly affects the shoulder, but it can develop in any joint. Shoulder bursitis is often the result of overuse or repetitive shoulder movements.
Overhead activities increase friction between bones and tissues. This ongoing friction can inflame and irritate bursae. When fluid builds up in the bursa sacs, you have bursitis.
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What Is The Outcome
The outcome will depend on the underlying cause. Shoulder pain may only last for up to a few weeks, may last a few years or may be a lifelong problem. However, if the cause of your shoulder pain is diagnosed and treated early then this can often help to resolve or greatly reduce the pain in your shoulder.
Treatment Options For Shoulder Nerve Pain
First things first, youll need to get a proper medical examination to determine what the cause of your shoulder pain is and the best course of treatment. Upon having a variety of tests and exams done to diagnose and pinpoint your injury, youll be asked about your health history and regular activities to understand the nature of your symptoms.
If the injury calls for conservative treatment, you should expect a recommendation for physical therapy, cortisone injections, massage therapy, and advice on how to maintain a healthy weight. The goal is to reduce pressure and tension from your nerves and muscles.
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Possible Causes Of Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade
Having pain under or near your shoulder bladethe triangular bone that forms the back of your shouldermay limit arm movements and interfere with daily activities. This pain can range from being sharp or burning, such as between the spine and shoulder blade, to tender or achy across the shoulder or upper back. Some possible causes of this pain are discussed below.
When Should I See A Doctor
If you have shoulder pain that wont go away or which is getting worse, or you have other symptoms that are causing you concern, make an appointment to see your doctor.
The doctor will most likely examine your shoulder and ask about your symptoms. They may suggest an x-ray or other scans to assist with diagnosis, although such tests are usually only helpful in certain situations, such as if there is an injury that needs to be investigated.
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When To See A Doctor
Unless youve had a serious injury or get a sudden, continuous pain, you can usually treat your shoulder pain without having to see your doctor.
If, after two weeks of treating yourself, you feel the pain isnt any better you should see your doctor or a physiotherapist.
You should also see your doctor as soon as possible if you:
- develop severe pain in both shoulders
- also have pain in your thighs
- feel feverish or unwell.
These can be signs of the condition called polymyalgia rheumatica, which needs prompt treatment.
There are several ways you can help your shoulder pain:
- Complementary treatments
Is Left Shoulder Blade Pain Serious
Both right and left shoulder blade pain is something that happens to many people. Having pain under, near, to the right or left of your scapula, the triangular bone that forms the back of your shoulder, can limit arm movements and interfere with daily activities. While this pain may feel like a burning or aching when it is between the spine and the scapula, it may be more tender or painful in the shoulder or upper back.
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Shoulder Nerve Pain What Is It
In sports, repetitive movement is more or less unavoidable. As a result, athletes are constantly running the risk of getting injured. Over time, factors like age, overuseor sometimes bothcatch up with our bodies and we are more likely to experience things like shoulder pain. Shoulder nerve pain, for example, is incredibly common. Athletes 50 years and older are likely to experience pinched nerves due to degeneration in the spine or arthritis.
Shoulder nerve pain arises when surrounding tissues like cartilage or tendons apply too much pressure onto a nerve. More specifically, pinched nerves occur when a nerve root in the neck is damaged either through wear and tear or an acute injury that leads to a herniated disk.
When you begin experiencing any kind of shoulder pain, the tricky part is figuring out what exactly the issue is. The symptoms that patients use to describe shoulder nerve pain have been known to overlap those from shoulder arthritis, frozen shoulder, swimmers shoulder, or rotator cuff tears, so its always best to consult with an orthopedic surgeon to understand what could be causing your shoulder pain.
When To See A Doctor For Left Shoulder Blade Pain
People who cant explain shoulder blade pain should see their doctor, except for harmless reasons such as overuse and constant straining to one side. Women should be particularly wary of any pain in the left shoulder blade, as it can be a sign of a heart attack, and report the condition to their doctor immediately. Since such conditions can also be felt as pain under the left shoulder blade, this should also be considered.
Symptoms that indicate the need for urgent attention include:
- chest pain
- Pain , swelling or redness in the legs
- spitting blood
- paralysis on one side of the body
- excessive sweating
- Loss of consciousness
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What Are Shoulder Pain Treatments And Home Remedies
For dislocations, separations, and fractures, you need a doctorâs help to get your shoulder back in the right position and then a sling to hold it in place while it heals.
If your shoulder doesnât improve after these first steps, your doctor may try injecting a corticosteroid straight into the joint to relieve swelling and pain.
Sometimes cartilage tears, rotator cuff tears, and frozen shoulder donât improve with rest and medicine. Your doctor may recommend surgery.
With any problem in your shoulder, your treatment plan will probably include exercises to help you stretch and strengthen the joint, and to improve your range of motion.
When Should I Seek Medical Help
You should contact your doctor if you experience fever, inability to move your shoulder, lasting bruising, heat and tenderness around the joint, or pain that persists beyond a few weeks of home treatment.
If your shoulder pain is sudden and not related to an injury, call 911 immediately. It may be a sign of a heart attack. Other signs of a heart attack include:
- trouble breathing
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