Shoulder pain can be caused by many things, 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.
Shoulder Pain Causes
A shoulder injury and resulting pain is either acute or chronic. An acute shoulder injury may occur from overuse of the shoulder or overhead activities during work or sports that can lead to intense pain. Chronic pain can last for several months or longer and may not be the result of an injury, but rather degenerative changes or repetitive wear and tear due to age.
A shoulder concern usually falls into one of these categories:
- Tendon inflammation (bursitis or tendinitis) or tendon tear
- Instability or dislocation
Rotator cuff tendons, which help provide shoulder motion and stability, are a frequent source of pain in the shoulder. In fact, statistics show that more than two million people in the U.S. see a doctor for rotator cuff tears.
Shoulder Pain Evaluation and Treatment
Your first step to determine the cause of your shoulder pain is to get a thorough medical history and physical exam by an orthopedic specialist. Most shoulder conditions are aggravated and relieved by specific activities. During your initial visit, your doctor will ask questions about your pain, check for tender areas and test your range of motion and strength. Diagnostic imaging can also help identify the cause of your pain. Your doctor may order an x-ray or an MRI to get a better picture of the ligaments and tendons.
Conservative, nonsurgical shoulder treatments are likely to be the first ones we recommend — and may be the only ones you need. Most shoulder conditions do not require surgery. Shoulder pain treatments may include:
• Rest and activity modification – Your specialist may be able to advise you on how to modify your activities to reduce your pain or your risk of re-injury.
• Medication – These range from over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications, oral steroids, and non-narcotic pain relievers. They may include topical ointments as well as medications you take by mouth.
• Steroid injections – Steroid medication is injected directly into the affected joint space, bursa, or area around an inflamed tendon. The goal is to reduce inflammation and pain. For some injections, the doctor may use ultrasound to guide the needle to the proper location.
• Platelet-Rich-Plasma (PRP Therapy) – This therapy involves harvesting specific types of cells from your body, concentrating them and injecting them directly into your shoulder joint, bursa, or tendon sheath.
• Physical therapy – Physical therapists will focus on exercises that strengthen your shoulder muscles, lessen pain, restore movement and reduce your chance of re-injury.
If your shoulder pain does not resolve with conservative treatment options, surgery may be recommended. Recurring dislocations, rotator cuff tears, advanced shoulder arthritis or conditions that cause significant weakness and loss of function in your shoulder may require surgery.
Shoulder Pain Treatment in Central New Jersey
At Ross Center for Orthopedics, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons and specially trained healthcare team are experts in the diagnoses and treatment of shoulder pain. We focus on providing the most advanced, personalized care in a safe and specialized environment. If you have questions about shoulder pain or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists, call us at (609) 267-2333 or book online HERE.