Have you ever hear the phrase “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders”? While this applies in a more figurative sense to those with large burdens, it still works on a physical level. We are always using our shoulders, and they are the most flexible parts of our body. We use them to stand upright, to lift, push, carry, reach, comb hair, brush teeth, cook, hold our clothes on, clean, work, drive, rest, type, along with giving our heads somewhere to rest. We put our shoulders to the test daily, and occasionally, our activities can cause them pain.
Shoulder pain can be debilitating. What once was an easy task, such as reaching for a shirt in the closet, can be a painful chore when the shoulder is not functioning. Our shoulders are ball and socket joints which allows for the wide range of motion we are used to. Inside the shoulder are bursae which are filled with fluid that allows the shoulder to glide when moving, rather than jerk and twist. Occasionally the bursae can become inflamed, or the muscles can became weak and damaged, effectively ending the ease of movement we once had.
It is important to note that not all shoulder pain is actually caused by the shoulder, however. Sometimes neck pain can manifest itself in the shoulder blade. If your pain is accompanied by numbness and tingling in the hand, this could be caused by bulging discs in the neck.
Degrees of shoulder pain can vary from mild to ferocious. Unless the pain is excruciating, start off with rest at home using NSAIDs and ice on the area. Use your good arm to lift your painful arm, and keep it close to your body as you rest. Keep a pillow behind your lower back to keep your posture correct, and rest the injured area on a pillow. If pain persists or gets worse, call the doctor.
An orthopedic surgeon can help determine the best cause of treatment for shoulder pain.
Because of the complex makeup of the shoulder, there are many types of injuries that can occur. Overuse can cause tendinitis or bursitis, which is usually treated by modifying actions. Rotator cuff tears are common, and the pain can be alleviated with cortisone shots or treatments. The shoulder can “pop” of the socket, which is called a dislocation. This is painful, but can be set back in with an orthopedic surgeon’s help.
If over the counter treatments, therapy, or rest do not help the problem, shoulder surgery may be required. For issues such as repeat dislocations, fully torn rotator cuffs, fractures of the collarbone, and osteoarthritis can often need surgical repair. The orthopedic surgeon always does a full assessment, noting your health history, a physical examination, along with diagnostic images such as an MRI or X-rays to determine the extent of the damage.
San Diego Orthopedic Surgery is committed to helping each and every patient become as pain free as possible.