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Shoulder Pain

Understanding Shoulder Pain:

Shoulder pain occurs when the soft tissues in and around the shoulder joint become inflamed or damaged. The shoulder joint, being the most movable joint in the body, is vulnerable to injuries and overuse. Common causes of shoulder pain include rotator cuff tears, shoulder dislocation, and referred pain from other parts of the body.

Common Symptoms of Shoulder Injuries:

Pain: Persistent or sharp pain in the shoulder joint, especially during movement or at rest, is a common indicator of a shoulder injury. The pain may worsen with certain activities or movements, such as lifting or reaching overhead.

Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty moving your shoulder or performing daily activities, such as reaching behind your back or lifting your arm overhead, can signify a shoulder injury. Limited range of motion may be accompanied by stiffness or a sensation of tightness in the shoulder joint.

Weakness: Weakness in the shoulder muscles or difficulty supporting objects with your arm may indicate an underlying shoulder problem. You may notice decreased strength or instability when performing tasks that require shoulder strength or stability.

Swelling and Inflammation: Inflammation and swelling around the shoulder joint are common symptoms of various shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff tears, tendinitis, or bursitis. Swelling may be accompanied by warmth to the touch and redness in the affected area.
Clicking or Popping Sensation: Some individuals may experience a clicking, popping, or grinding sensation in the shoulder joint during movement. This sensation, known as crepitus, may indicate cartilage or tendon damage within the shoulder joint.

Common Shoulder Problems

Rotator Cuff Tears: Tears in the rotator cuff tendons can result from overuse, traumatic injury, or age-related degeneration, causing symptoms like pain, weakness, and limited motion.

Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): Characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, frozen shoulder develops gradually and is associated with inflammation and thickening of the joint capsule, leading to significant discomfort and limited mobility.

Shoulder Dislocation: This occurs when the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder joint socket due to trauma, such as a fall or sports injury, resulting in severe pain, swelling, and shoulder instability.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis (Tendonitis): Inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons, often caused by repetitive overhead movements or shoulder overuse, resulting in shoulder pain and tenderness, particularly during arm motion.

Shoulder Separation: Injury to the ligaments connecting the collarbone to the shoulder blade, typically caused by falls or direct impacts, leading to pain, swelling, and visible deformity near the collarbone.

When to See a Doctor

Shoulder pain needs medical attention if it’s severe, persistent, or limits movement. Seek help for swelling, deformity, or if you’ve had a shoulder injury. Additionally, consult a doctor if you experience numbness, tingling, weakness, or signs of infection like fever. Early evaluation provides accurate diagnosis and timely treatment to prevent complications.

How will Lonestar Diagnose my Shoulder Pain?

Diagnosing shoulder pain typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, and possibly imaging tests. Here’s an overview of the diagnostic process:

Medical History Review: We will begin by asking you about your symptoms, including when the pain started, what activities or movements make it better or worse, and if you have any history of shoulder injuries or other medical conditions.

Physical Examination: We will examine your shoulder, looking for signs of tenderness, swelling, deformity, or limited range of motion. They may also assess muscle strength and test specific movements to pinpoint the source of your pain.

Different Imaging Tests: Depending on the suspected cause of your shoulder pain, we may recommend one or more imaging tests to get a better view of the shoulder structures. These may include:

  • X-rays: Helpful for detecting bone fractures, arthritis, or bone spurs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Provides detailed images of soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments, useful for identifying tears, inflammation, or other soft tissue injuries.
  • Ultrasound: Can show tendon tears, inflammation, or fluid buildup.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: Offers detailed images of bones and joints, helpful for diagnosing fractures or complex bone abnormalities.
  • Diagnostic Injections: In some cases, we may recommend a diagnostic injection of a local anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medication directly into the shoulder joint or surrounding tissues. If the injection temporarily relieves your pain, it can help confirm the suspected source of your shoulder pain.
  • Laboratory Tests: In certain situations, blood tests may be ordered to rule out conditions such as infections or inflammatory disorders that could be contributing to your shoulder pain.

Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options can be explored, which may include rest, physical therapy, medications, injections, or in some cases, surgery. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of shoulder pain.

Shoulder Pain FAQ’s

Sleep on your back or the unaffected side with a supportive pillow. Use a pillow that keeps your neck aligned. Consider using a body pillow for extra support.

Apply ice or heat packs. Practice gentle stretching exercises. Take over-the-counter pain relievers if needed. Maintain good posture and avoid activities that worsen the pain.

Sudden, severe pain or swelling. Inability to move the shoulder or arm. Pain with fever or signs of infection. Persistent pain not relieved by rest.

Varies depending on the cause and severity. Acute pain may resolve in days to weeks. Chronic pain may persist for months or longer.

Rotator cuff tendinitis, frozen shoulder, arthritis, bursitis, muscle strains, nerve compression.

Pain or tenderness around the shoulder joint. Swelling or inflammation. Limited range of motion, worsened with movement or pressure.

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