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Causes of Shoulder Pain

Before you can treat your condition, it's important to get an accurate idea of the pain you're experiencing, how it affects your mobility, and the effect it is having on your daily life.

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How Severe Is Your Shoulder Pain?

Most of us try to minimize the amount of pain we feel. We don't like to complain, and it may seem like focusing on the pain makes it worse. But before you can treat your condition, it's important to get an accurate idea of the pain you're experiencing, how it affects your mobility, and the effect it is having on your daily life. To begin, answer the questions below.

Shoulder Pain Assessment

  • Does your shoulder hurt one or more days a week?
  • Does the pain interfere with your sleep?
  • Are pain medications no longer working?
  • Is it painful to perform everyday tasks and activities?
  • Does the pain interfere with your ability to move your arm?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to speak to a physician about treatment options.

What Are the Causes of Your Shoulder Pain?

Many conditions of the shoulder are interrelated. For example, tendinitis may be related to a torn rotator cuff. Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) may be related to bursitis. Other shoulder problems are:

  • Arthritis
  • Torn Rotator Cuff
  • Dislocation/Instability
  • Frozen Shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
  • Sports Injuries
  • Synovitis
  • Tendinitis, Bursitis and Impingement Syndrome
  • Fracture

A frequent cause of discomfort and chronic shoulder pain is arthritis. Arthritis is the loss or damage of joint (articular) cartilage. Cartilage is a smooth, shiny surface that covers the ends of your bones. Normally, when cartilage rubs together, you have smooth and painless motion. When your cartilage degenerates, however, you can suffer from pain and limitation of motion. When you have arthritis, your soft tissues — the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding and supporting the joint — can also become weak and unable to function. Arthritis can be caused by several factors, depending on the form it takes and what area within the shoulder is affected. Trauma-related arthritis results from damage to the joint from a previous injury. It also results in joint damage, pain and loss of mobility. To provide you with effective treatment, your physician will determine what type of arthritis you have and which joint is affected.

Types of Arthritis of the Shoulder

Shoulder pain can have a significant impact on your everyday life. Many sufferers may be less active, gain weight, and lose sleep. One of the most frequent causes of discomfort and chronic shoulder pain is arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis, and trauma-related arthritis are the most common causes of joint damage.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is still not completely understood and there is no cure. Different factors may play a role in OA, including age, weight, trauma or overuse. The disease, common in people over 60, can occur at younger ages. Osteoarthritis causes the normally smooth joint surfaces to wear away. This results in pain and stiffness related to inflammation and later bone-on-bone contact and wear.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, meaning it may attack any or all joints in the body. It differs from OA in the following ways:

  • Affects women more often than men
  • Can strike young and old alike
  • Causes destruction of the joint by severe auto-immune response to the joint cartilage

Trauma-Related Arthritis

Trauma-related arthritis results from damage to the joint from a previous injury. It also results in joint damage, pain and loss of mobility.

There also are other, less common, forms of arthritis that can affect the shoulder. Septic arthritis can result from infection from bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms. It also is associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Avascular necrosis (osteonecrosis) develops when the blood supply to the bone is disrupted and the bone begins to die. Both forms of arthritis can result from injury, fracture, or nontraumatic causes.


What Are My Treatment Options and When Is It Time to Speak With a Specialist?

 
One minute you were leaping for the ball, the next you were doubled over, your shoulder feeling like it was on fire. Or maybe it has been a gradual progression where the pain increasingly interferes with your daily activities.

Now you can’t sleep at night. You may have trouble with even simple activities such as getting dressed or combing your hair. If your job involves overhead activities like painting or stocking shelves, you may be on disability.

You’re asking yourself: “Do I have to live with this pain?” “What can I do?”

Talk to your surgeon about treatment options to help reduce your pain, regain your shoulder mobility, and help get you back to the activities you love.


 

References

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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. The performance of shoulder replacements depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. If you have conditions that limit rehabilitation you should not have this surgery. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can tell you if shoulder replacement is right for you.

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