What causes shoulder pain?

Of all the joints in the body, the shoulder is the one that moves the most and is also the most unstable. The combination of regular movement and lack of stability makes general shoulder pain a common complaint. Thankfully, the treatment and prevention of shoulder pain is effective and can often be completed at home.
Shoulder pain is not only very common but has the potential to disrupt your life. One of the reasons shoulder pain is so common, is that the joint itself is small but has a number of components (bone, tendons, ligaments, bursa) squeezed into a limited space. This, combined with a lack of stability and almost constant movement, greatly increases the change of injury.

There are a number of causes of shoulder pain and some of the most common causes include:

  •     Rotator cuff injuries (which effect the four muscles holing the shoulder together)
  •     Bursitis or inflammation of the bursa ( a fluid filled sac that reduces friction in the joints)
  •     Dislocation
  •     Frozen shoulder (where the shoulder capsule becomes inflamed, causing it to lock in place)
  •     Arthritis
  •     Injury to the AC joint (the point where the clavicle and acromial process meet)
  •     Bicep tendonitis(inflammation of the bicep tendon where it attaches to the shoulder)
  •     Muscle cramps and strains
  •     Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) from exercise
  •     Overuse/RSI
  •     Pinched nerve
  •     Shoulder impingement
  •     Swimmer’s shoulder
  •     Treating Shoulder Pain

Like all injuries, the first step to treating shoulder pain is to reduce the pain and inflammation. You can do this at home by taking ibuprofen, resting your shoulder and applying ice for 20 minutes every two hours.

Specific treatment of your shoulder pain will vary depending on the cause and severity of the injury. In general, treatment can include tapping to provide strength, stability and support, limiting movement with a sling, ultrasound treatment to stimulate healing and muscle repair, progressive strength exercises and range of movement exercises.

Preventing Shoulder Pain

Although there are some injuries that are difficult to avoid (such as dislocation, fracture or AC joint injuries) in many cases, you can take steps to prevent the occurrence of both shoulder pain and injury.

Due to the instability of the shoulder joint, strong muscles are essential for maintaining normal and pain free function of the shoulder. In many cases, causes of shoulder pain are the result of weak or un-coordinating muscles. The good news is you can take simple actions to prevent shoulder pain. Ways you can prevent shoulder pain include:
Strengthening your shoulder muscles. Exercises such as overhead press, lateral raises, internal and external shoulder rotations, and rows all help to strengthen the shoulder and surrounding muscles.

 Avoiding overusing your shoulder. This could be related to sport, work or life in general. If you find certain activities create pain, avoid or limit how often you perform them.

 Distribute your weight evenly between both arms. We tend to carry heavy items on our dominate side which can lead to muscle strain and an imbalance in muscle strength. If you must carry heavy items, try to distribute the weight evenly.

Rest. Shoulder pain can become a chronic condition if left untreated. If you regularly suffer from shoulder pain and know what it causing it, be sure to rest and apply ice at the onset of pain.

Shoulder pain can be caused by a number of conditions and although it can become chronic if left untreated, treatment of shoulder pain caused by injury is very effective. Remember that prevention is always better than cure so it is best to limit activities that aggravate your shoulder pain. Perform exercises regularly to strengthen your shoulder muscles and rest your shoulder as needed. This will help you enjoy pain free living.

iACHE is a platform solution for the coordination of care in pain management and addiction disorders. These two conditions require long term and coordinated care that currently does not exist.

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