Your shoulders have three main bones, namely, the humerus, clavicle, and scapula, and your shoulder joints include two primary joints that allow your shoulders and arms to move as they do. These two main joints are the acromioclavicular and glenohumeral joints. Because your shoulders play a big role in your body's movement, it's unsurprising that shoulder pain can have a significant impact on your overall well-being.
Shoulder pain refers to any pain or discomfort felt when you move your shoulders. It's a common issue for many people and has many different causes.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
Shoulders are prone to injury primarily because they experience a lot of wear and tear day in and day out. Shoulder pain happens in a variety of different ways, including the following:
- Pinched nerves
- Shoulder joint instability
- Labral tear
- Shoulder arthritis
- Frozen shoulder
- Broken fracture
Symptoms of Shoulder Pain
Depending on the cause of your shoulder pain, symptoms may range in severity. In some cases, shoulder pain is a symptom of a larger problem and may worsen without proper treatment. In most cases, however, your doctor will treat your shoulder pain with over-the-counter pain medications and ice packs to help decrease inflammation. Common shoulder pain symptoms that may require immediate medical attention include the following:
- Sudden swelling
- Severe pain
- Exposed tendon or bone
- Limited range of motion
- Deformity in your shoulder
- Signs of infection
Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain
If you're experiencing shoulder pain and believe it may be part of a more serious condition, contact your doctor. During your appointment, your doctor will perform a physical exam and run through your symptoms to get a better idea of the cause of your shoulder pain. He or she will also check for signs of swelling, redness, tenderness, and dislocation.
Depending on your condition, your doctor may order further tests, including the following:
- CT scans
Treatment of Shoulder Pain
In most cases, treatment plans for shoulder pain are custom-made to combat any symptoms you're experiencing. Because of this, it's important to consult your doctor about any symptoms you feel so that your doctor can properly diagnose your condition. Once you're diagnosed, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Changes in regular activities: This may include resting your shoulders or participating in physical therapy to improve shoulder strength and flexibility. It's important to keep your shoulders flexible to ward off another condition known as frozen shoulder.
- Ice packs: Icing your shoulder is a common treatment option and helps reduce pain and inflammation. Always wrap ice packs in a towel, though, to protect your skin from frostbite.
- Medications: The most common medications prescribed for shoulder pain are NSAIDs, especially if the cause of your pain is tendonitis, arthritis, or bursitis.
- Surgery: In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery if your condition doesn't improve with the above-mentioned treatment options.
Prognosis of Shoulder Pain
When it comes to shoulder pain, much of your prognosis depends on the severity of your condition and your symptoms. The sooner you visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment, the better your outlook.