In addition to back pain, shoulder pain is one of the most common complains and reasons why people visit their doctor. According to the research conducted in the year 2006, when people were asked if they felt any pain or stiffness in joints in the past 30 days (back and neck were excluded), 9% of the adults (18 years of and above) reported experienced shoulder pain (Source cdc.gov). Meaning, almost one in every 10 adults had these problems.
When you think about, it does make sense. After all, shoulder joint is the most flexible joint in our body and we are using it constantly. Which is why it is vital to get the right diagnosis and treat it properly, so that it doesn`t happen again.
Obviously, the most common cause of shoulder pain is injury. The joint is a very complex structure, built up of numerous muscles, tendons and ligaments and any one of those can easily get injured. Shoulder joint injury can be the result of a car accident, nasty fall, hit or collision during sport activities etc.
Regardless of the cause of the injury, you must act quickly and get in touch with your doctor. He/she will be able to access the injury, the extent of the tissue damage and help you devise a proper rehabilitation plan.
Other known causes are:
- Dislocation – dislocation occurs when the top of your femur separates from the shoulder blade. Sometimes a partial dislocation joint may occur, that condition is called subluxation.
- Rotator cuff tear – rotator cuff is a network of muscles coming together as tendons that form a cover around the head of the humerus (Source: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org). A surgery is often required for this type of injury.
- Bursitis – bursa is a sack, commonly found in the joint, providing a cushion for the bony structures. If it get irritated and swollen, it can cause pain and stiffness.
- Shoulder separation – is an injury where the joint between clavicle and shoulder blade gets separated.
- Arthritis – arthritis is, unfortunately, a common cause of this pain.
There are many other causes, but we simply don`t have the time to cover them all.
As you might have guessed it, a symptom of any injury really, is pain. Now, the intensity of pain will depend largely on the severity of the injury itself. It is often described as a dull ache radiating from the shoulder joint. In some instances, the pain can cause some stiffness in the joint and headache.
Weakness and numbness will often accompany pain, they are caused by pinched or bruised nerves in the affected area. Some swelling and inflammation can also put some additional pressure to the nerves and cause these symptoms.
In more severe cases, where there is an obstruction in the blood flow in the arteries and/or veins, you might notice some changes in color and reduction in temperature. If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor immediately!
We are not going to go deep into the technical side of things, as I don`t think it is necessary. The easiest way you can diagnose shoulder injuries is if you notice any of the symptoms we mentioned above.
If you take the time to get to know your body, you will notice changes quickly and figure out if anything is wrong. Follow your gut on this one, and don`t wait for too long, `cause you might aggravate the injury further.
Pain On The Left Side
Pain in the left shoulder can be a result of your normal daily activities, but can also mean that there is something wrong, so checking it up is never a bad idea.
Most commonly it can be associated with:
- Poor computer posture – if your arm remains in an awkward position over a long period of time, you might experience pain
- Arthritis – if arthritis is affecting only the left joint
- Breast pain – you may experience referred pain, especially during hormonal changes – pregnancy, menstrual cycle, or when you are lactating
- Any injury affecting your left shoulder joint
Right Shoulder Pain
Well, you can pretty much take everything I`ve said above and apply it here. Some additional causes of right shoulder pain include gallbladder problems and liver abscess.
Neck and shoulder pain have many different causes and pain in these areas can mean nothing but it can also mean there there is something seriously wrong.
Most common cause of pain in this area is improper posture (when sitting at our PC or at the desk at work), muscle strain, trauma or injury but, in more severe cases, it can be cause by growth abnormalities, degeneration and eve tumor.
I didn`t mean to scare you, and in most cases it is nothing serious, but do yourself a favor and get checked up.
This is a condition where your shoulder becomes very stiff and rigid, reducing the amount of movement and flexibility in the joint.
In most cases, patients will feel better but the recovery will last for a long time, sometimes up to 18 or even 24 months. But, if you start the treatment in time, it is possible to shorten this recovery time, so pay attention and alert your doctor if you spot any changes in mobility or flexibility of your shoulder joint.
Pain At Night
The causes of pain at night are pretty much the same as the general causes of shoulder pain we`ve mentioned above. However, we will be adding one more cause to the list, and that is inappropriate sleeping position, wrong pillow or even the wrong mattress.
When trying to get to the bottom of it, try to use common sense, and if you can rule out all of the external factors (position, pillow and mattress) but still have back pain, seek medical help.
Relief And Treatment
Treating this pain largely depends on the cause of the pain itself. Obviously, if you tore a rotator cuff, exercise will not do you much good. So, you first need to make an effort to get to the bottom of the problem and figure out the cause behind your pain.
If the cause is poor posture, challenging physical activity and swelling, you can apply ice in combination with rest to relieve your symptoms. Keep in mind that these will only address the symptoms of your ache – the pain.
If there is no physical damage to the tissue itself (to tears, ruptures or fractures), your doctor will probably recommend some exercises and stretches.