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Your shoulder, like every other part of your body, is but a single part of the greater whole. Shoulder pain is a sign that your machinery, so to speak, needs some maintenance, and this should not be ignored.Your shoulders are the most flexible joint in the body, capable of an immense range of movement. This is achieved by four groups of muscles and tendons which together make up the rotator cuff. Up and down, sideways, rotations, and a mixture of all of these means it also sees the most wear and tear. This is why you might get a sharp pain in your shoulder when you try to move it.
Whether it be left shoulder pain or right shoulder pain, this is all caused by damage to the rotator cuff. Bone changes can result in swelling of the area, making it very uncomfortable. In this article, we will show you the various causes of severe shoulder pain and explain how to go about proper shoulder pain treatment. Without further ado, let’s get started!
The Many Causes of Shoulder Pain
In this section, we’ll look at some of the most common shoulder pain causes. There are as many reasons for a hurting shoulder as there are ways in which you can move them:
- The main cause of top of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tendinitis, which happens when the tendons get caught under the bony part of the shoulder, leading them to become inflamed or damaged.
- Bone spurs are smooth, hard growths that form on the ends of a bone, and when these form in the shoulder area, they can cause a lot of shoulder pain.
- Similarly, arthritis in the shoulder joint can be extremely painful. The swelling hinders movement and is uncomfortable all around.
- This is obvious, but pain is an instant reaction from the breaking of bones and either the separation or dislocation of the shoulder ball and socket.
- Frozen shoulder is a condition where the muscles, tendons, and ligaments all tense up and freeze, making it very difficult and painful to move your shoulder and arm.
- If you tend to do a lot of heavy lifting or similarly strenuous activity, you could end up hurting nearby muscles and ligaments, like the bicep, which can result in shoulder and arm pain.
- If you end up tearing the rotator cuff ligaments through injury, then you will be in a world of pain.
- Finally, poor posture and movement mechanics can hurt your shoulder in the long run quite heavily.
Treating Shoulder Pain at Home
So, now that we’ve seen what can cause shoulder pain, it’s time to move on to the next most pertinent question: how to get rid of shoulder pain? There are many ways of easing the pain on your shoulder, most of which are home remedies. Shoulder pain, in all except the most severe cases, can be treated quite easily, and we are about to show you exactly how you can do this:
- Ice is your friend. Wrap some ice in a cloth and apply the pack to your shoulder and any other affected areas. Leave it there for fifteen minutes, and then take it off for fifteen minutes. Do this three or four times throughout the day for at least two to three days. Avoid exposing your skin directly to ice if you can because that can cause frostbite.
- In case of injury, it is absolutely crucial that you rest your shoulder for the next few days. Try to lie down and not move too much if you feel shoulder pain when lifting your arm.
- It’s always a good thing to consult a physical therapist. They can help you do exercises and formulate a steady comeback to the full range of movement.
- If the pain gets unbearable, take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen – think Tylenol – to relieve the inflammation. While not a permanent fix, it will help you power through the worst of it on your road to recovery.
If you have issues with your rotator cuff, they can be treated at home as well. Let’s see how:
- If you have had left shoulder blade pain for a while, then you should ice the area and take ibuprofen after exercising.
- Learn and practice exercises that stretch and strengthen your shoulder and rotator cuff area. Visit a physical therapist to learn the best ways you can do this.
- Tendinitis can be a major issue and if you are recovering from it, use exercises that broaden your range of motion. This will also keep frozen shoulders away.
- Good posture is incredibly important. Make it a habit to keep your shoulder muscles and tendons relaxed and in their right place.
Some Simple Exercises To Help With Shoulder Pain
There are a few exercises you can try to help relieve your shoulder pain, and we present a couple of them here.
The Pendulum Stretch
- Stand straight and then bend at the waist.
- Let your hands, even the injured one, hang straight down.
- Relax your neck. Don’t be tense at all.
- Move your arm with the affected shoulder in a circle about twenty times.
- Do this at least once a day. Ideally more.
Overhead Shoulder Stretch
- You may do this exercise either standing or sitting.
- Interlock your fingers before you.
- Bend your elbows and bring your hands up over your head. If you can’t go that far, feel free to put your hands on your head or lock them behind it.
- Very gently, so as to not hurt yourself, squeeze your shoulder blades together and bring your elbows back.
- Do this up to twenty times for one rep and aim to do between five and ten reps daily.
However, don’t feel like you have to do this. You are still recovering and should feel no pressure to push yourself. In fact, you should stop the moment you feel a twinge of pain. If you feel the need to do it, warm up properly to loosen up so that you don’t pull anything. Roll your shoulders gently, take a warm shower, and watch your form – you don’t want to do something incorrectly and make things worse.
When Should You Visit a Doctor?
Though shoulder pain relief can often be found at home, there are times when it is best to go to a doctor as soon as possible. For example, if you ever feel a sudden, crushing pain in your shoulder running all the way up to your jaw, neck, or arm, then you need to call emergency services immediately because you could be having a heart attack. Other signs include sweating, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
Go to the doctor or your nearest emergency room if you have an injury affecting your shoulder, causing massive bruising, swelling, and bleeding. At that point, shoulder pain is the least of your concerns.
Here is a list of other things that should prompt you to get a consultation as soon as possible:
- If your shoulder pain comes with a fever, swelling, or redness along the area, it is possible that you have an infection.
- If you have problems accessing your full range of motion, you should definitely visit your doctor.
- If the pain persists for more than two to four weeks, even after proper home treatment, it is best to get some medical advice.
- If your shoulder is swollen and you can offer no explanation, or if the skin has taken on a reddish or bluish hue, you would be best served by paying your doctor a visit.
What To Be Prepared for at the Doctor’s Office
If you are one of those people who get anxious at the thought of going to the doctor, this section is for you. We hope to eliminate your anxiety by laying out in plain terms what you might be expected to do when you go visit the doctor for your shoulder pain.
Firstly, your doctor will need to understand just what is wrong. Without that, they can’t prescribe a good road to recovery. You might be asked to get blood tests, x-rays, or an MRI done. Once they have a better handle on the situation, they might provide you one, or multiple, of the following treatments:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce your pain
- Anti-inflammatory injection — usually corticosteroid
- Physical therapy to properly rebuild and strengthen your muscle base
Final Takeaway — Don’t Ignore Pain!
While shoulder pain might not sound like something serious, if it causes you pain and inconvenience, it is well worth your attention. It is not normal to be in pain, and you shouldn’t ignore it. It might be nothing serious, and it just as well could be something very serious. If the pain persists after you’ve tried all the home remedies, it is time to pay the doctor a visit.
For more insight on medical conditions, check out the rest of the All American Hospice blog!