The shoulder is made up of a ball-and-socket joint that allows free movement of the arm in different directions. The upper bone is known as the humerus and it is shaped like a ball. The scapula acts like a socket that connects with the humerus to give your shoulder a wide range of motion. The tendons and muscles form a capsule around the ball-and-socket joint to support its movements. The synovium inside the capsule produces a fluid that keeps the cartilage healthy and lubricates the joint.
Any damage on this joint can cause pain in the shoulder and may limit arm movement. While other surrounding structures such as the cartilage and synovium may provide support, the shoulder is a joint that is more susceptible to injury. This article discusses the causes, symptoms, treatment, and home remedies for shoulder pain.
What Does Shoulder Pain Entail?
Shoulder pain usually affects a small area but is required to last for a relatively short period. However, there are other situations where your shoulder problem could affect a larger area making it a long-term condition. It is common for people to experience pain in their shoulder due to dislocation or damage to the bones and cartilage that support the structure. There are instances where shoulder pain could occur because of problems in your neck. This is usually referred to as radiated pain and can affect other parts of your body if you do not receive early medical care.
Causes and Symptoms of Shoulder Pain
Several occurrences such as a traumatic accident, aging, and repetitive movements can cause shoulder pain. Other people may also experience front or anterior shoulder pain because of an underlying medical condition such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Fractures and dislocations in the shoulder can be very painful and may limit movement of the arm.
Other causes of shoulder pain include inflammation in the bursa, muscle tension between the neck and shoulder, and damage to the tendons and muscles surrounding the ball-and-socket joint. Shoulder pain is often characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness, arm weakness, and inability to move the shoulder.
Diagnosis of Shoulder Pain
A doctor will determine the cause of your shoulder pain by conducting a physical examination and reviewing your medical history. They will assess your joint stability, range of motion, and check for tenderness or swelling around the affected shoulder. Imaging tests such as MRIs and X-rays may be used to produce detailed pictures that help diagnose your shoulder pain.
Treatment for Shoulder Pain
Your doctor may recommend medications to help reduce inflammation and ease pain in the shoulder. Steroids or numbing medicine can also be injected directly into your shoulder to reduce the pain. It is an effective method of treatment since the drug starts to work immediately in the affected area. Slings can also be useful in managing shoulder fractures, separations, and dislocations as they help keep the joint structures in position. However, the bones need to be put back into place before applying a sling to allow for a quick recovery. Serious injuries to the shoulder and other medical conditions such as adhesive capsulitis and rotator cuff tears may require surgery for treatment, as they do not improve with rest and medicine.
Home Remedies for Shoulder Pain
Many types of shoulder problems can be managed at home. Typically, treatment involves avoiding activities that may aggravate the pain and a period of rest to allow healing and quick recovery. You can also apply heat or use ice packs on the injured shoulder for pain relief. Placing pressure on the affected area can also help to reduce swelling. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy as it helps to strengthen your shoulder and improve your range of motion.
When to Call a Doctor
It is important to seek medical attention if your shoulder pain persists more than a few weeks of treatment. You should also contact your doctor if you have a lasting bruising, unable to move your shoulder, or experience fever and tenderness around the joint. Shoulder pains that are not related to injury or appear suddenly without any cause might be a sign of something bigger that needs to be addressed urgently.
The anatomy of the ball-and-socket joint in your shoulder makes it susceptible to injury. The best way to deal with shoulder pain is to get enough rest and avoid activities that may aggravate the pain. It is important to see a doctor if you experience any sudden pain, weakness, swelling or inability to use the joint to prevent the situation from getting worse.