Shoulder pain can significantly affect daily activities at home, on the job, or at play.
Because the shoulder joint has such a large range of motion, it is susceptible to injuries. Although an acute traumatic injury like dislocation or fracture can occur, often shoulder pain is the result of chronic overuse injuries.
Some common causes of shoulder pain include:
There are many different types of arthritis, but arthritis simply put is inflammation in the joint. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition that causes the breakdown of cartilage in the joint. When cartilage breaks down, it causes pain and stiffness in the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder and impacts the synovium that lubricates the joint so it can move easier.
If your pain starts at the top of the shoulder and affects the joint where your shoulder blade meets your collarbone, this is a good indication to speak with your doctor about the possibility of arthritis. Shoulder replacement can help patients with late-stage arthritis return to pain free living.
The rotator cuff consists of a group of tendons and muscles that surround and stabilize the shoulder joint. These tendons allow a wide range of movement of the shoulder joint across multiple planes. Irritation or injury to these tendons can result in rotator cuff pain. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder that increases with use while the arm is extended. Rotator cuff injuries are common and increase with age.
Rotator cuff tears are a common reason for people to come into the office. Small rotator cuff tears can be treated with conservative methods, but a large tear may indicate surgery.
Impingement is caused by excessive rubbing of the shoulder muscles against the top part of the shoulder blade. Usually seen in young and middle-aged patients, who engage in physical activities that require repeated overhead arm movement. In some circumstances, a partial tear of the rotator cuff may cause impingement pain. Medical care should be sought immediately for inflammation in the shoulder because it could eventually lead to a more serious injury.
Occasionally pain in the shoulder may be due to a problem elsewhere in the body like the neck, lungs, or heart. This is called referred pain. If there is pain while the shoulder is at rest and it does not worsen when moving the shoulder, it is most likely referred pain.
Shoulder pain is common among people of all ages. The underlying reason for your shoulder pain can vary significantly from rotator cuff injury to arthritis. It is important to have your shoulder evaluated rather than pushing through the pain. Waiting to seek treatment can cause further injury, so make an appointment today if you are suffering from shoulder pain. We want to get you back to your daily activities at home, on the job, and at play.
Dr. Kevin Kruse is a board-certified, fellowship-trained, orthopedic surgeon specializing in Shoulder injuries and arthroscopic Shoulder surgery in North Texas.