Why Does Your Shoulder Pain?-By Dr. Dolly Khanka
Domlur, Bengaluru Sep 21, 2017
The shoulder is an important joint of our body. It is not often that we think of this ball and socket joint unless it pains. And when it pains, we may not be able to perform routine functions like taking out the sugar jar from the kitchen shelf or answering the door for a loved one.
You may experience pain right on the shoulder or near the shoulder. So when doctors try to diagnose shoulder pain issues, they tend to check the areas adjoining the shoulder including neck, spine and other parts of the shoulder, too.
Injury to the Parts of the Shoulder
If shoulder parts get injured due to push or pull or some kind of abnormal strain or stress, then you may experience pain in the shoulder. For example, if the bones or the tendons around the rotator cuff get injured, you will find it difficult to raise your arm above your head. Doctors generally take X rays or MRI of the shoulder to check for injury in the shoulder parts, and they also ask several questions to pin point the cause of the pain.
At times, shoulder pain is a referred pain and not a direct pain. The referred pain arises due to problems in other parts of the body, and these can include conditions of the cervical spine and even liver and gall bladder diseases. The diagnosis for such cases of referred pain generally involves identifying how and why the pain is reaching the shoulder and suitable remedial treatment is advised by the medical practitioner.
Frozen shoulder is a condition characterized by pain and stiffness around the shoulder accompanied by limited motion in all directions. It is commonly seen in people in the age group of 40-60 years. The cause of a shoulder becoming frozen could be long periods of inactivity following a surgery1 or illness. For example, wearing a sling following an accident causes the shoulder to remain immobilized without any of the routine motion like stretching your arm to pick up something. In certain other cases, the cause of this condition cannot be predicted with accuracy.
Ageing of the Body
Symptoms of pain including shoulder pain are common above the age of sixty. Yet this cannot be classified as a threshold age. A body which has suffered diseases and pain early on is more likely to show such symptoms relatively early on in life.
Doctors attribute the cause of such pain to the degeneration of soft tissues and the treatment advised in such cases is generally management of health and diet, healthy living, nutritional supplements to strengthen the tissues and bones and simple exercises.
Many people associate heart attack only with a pain in the chest region, often overlooking the fact that pain in your left shoulder may also be the radiating pain originating from the chest region. There have been several such cases where heart attack symptoms were not detected on time. In fact, many heart attack patients have reported sudden pain around their shoulder region before actually getting a heart attack. Sudden pain around the shoulder region with rising discomfort needs to be immediately reported as this could be an indication of something more serious.
Shoulder pain issues whether trivial or serious is a cause for concern. It is important to find out the cause of the pain and take remedial actions2 under the guidance of a registered medical practitioner. The cause may be singular or also multiple and complicated. Neglecting shoulder pain issues can aggravate the problem and give rise to several other problems and complications3.
Commonly shoulder pains are treated by combination therapies of medication including anti-inflammatory medicines, cold and warm packs, shoulder supports, discontinuance or modification of certain activities, and certain exercises and movements. In several cases, physiotherapy may also be advised.
When your body starts telling you that it is painful around your shoulder, then you need to:
- Check for pain in your spine or other parts of the body
- Stop putting excess load on your shoulder
- Check your posture while working
- Take regular breaks between work
- Distribute the load on your back
- Do not carry more load than what you could possibly lift without over exertion on your part
- Carry loads in proper back packs
If you pay immediate attention, then without doubt, your shoulder pain can be better managed. Also, physiotherapy has been found to bring immense relief in several cases of shoulder pain. So, for that recurring shoulder pain, consider taking health advice from a qualified physiotherapist without delay.