Shoulder Pain

 

What causes pain in my shoulder?
A common cause of shoulder pain is soreness of the tendon (a cord that attaches a muscle to a bone) of the rotator cuff (the part of the shoulder that helps circular motion). Another common cause is soreness of the subacromial bursa (a sac of fluid under the highest part of the shoulder). You might experience soreness after activities such as painting, lifting or playing a sport, which require you to lift your arms. Or you may not remember any specific injury.

The main joint in the shoulder is formed by the arm bone and the shoulder blade. The joint socket is shallow, allowing a wide range of motion in the arm. The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles that surround the arm bone. This cuff keeps the shoulder steady as the arm moves.
How does the rotator cuff get hurt?
The supraspinatus muscle rests on top of the shoulder. Its tendon travels under the bone on the outside of the shoulder (the acromion). This tendon is the one most often injured because of its position between the bones. As the tendon becomes inflamed (sore and swollen), it can become pinched between the 2 bones. The sac of fluid that cushions the tendon can also be damaged.

How do I know the rotator cuff is hurt?
If the rotator cuff is involved, the pain is usually in the front or outside of the shoulder. This pain is usually worse when you raise your arm or lift something above your head. The pain can be bad enough to keep you from doing even the simplest tasks. Pain at night is common, and it may be bad enough to wake you.
What can I do to help relieve the pain?
Treatment should help relieve the pain and help you restore your shoulder to normal function. Pain relief strategies include active rest (you can and should move your shoulder, but you shouldn't do strenuous activities like lifting heavy objects or playing tennis). Application of ice, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen (2 brand names: Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (brand name: Aleve) and, occasionally, an injection of anti-inflammatory steroids can also help.

Special exercises may also help. The first step of rehabilitation therapy is simple range-of-motion exercises. By bending over and moving (rotating) your shoulder in large circles, you will help to avoid the serious complication of rotator cuff injury, called a frozen shoulder.

   

 

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