Without question, having to live in pain is one of the worst things out there. It can be mild to severe and anywhere in between, and it’ll still cause the same amount of disruption. The thing about pain is that knowing what causes it and where it comes from can be very helpful to making sure that you treat it properly. Once treated properly, you should be able to enjoy some relief and get back to your regular life and day-to-day activities. When it comes to shoulder pain, there are 5 common reasons that might be causing it and it’s important to be aware of them in order to determine how to best deal with it.
5 Common Reasons For Shoulder Pain
- Problems with your rotator cuff – Some of the most common rotator cuff issues include a tear, tendonitis and/or bursitis. Each of these painful conditions can be popular among people of all ages and will cause a varying amount of pain. When dealing with tendonitis, it means that the tendons of your shoulder itself are inflamed and this causes the pain and discomfort. With bursitis, the pain comes from the fluid sack that is inflamed around the shoulder and causes pain. This kind of pain is popular with those who do repetitive motions or rheumatoid arthritis. For more information, have a look at our series on rotator cuff issues.
- Frozen shoulder – This condition tends to be the most mysterious among shoulder problems because its direct cause is not known. It can last for months and ranges from freezing to frozen to thawing. While the recovery time can be long, frozen shoulder almost always goes away on its own in terms of being able to avoid any kind of surgery. A frozen shoulder is when the tissues around your shoulder become thick for no clear reason. This results are varying bouts of stiffness that can be painful at times as well.
- Osteoarthritis – When cartilage gets worn and starts to break down, it often leads to osteoarthritis in the shoulder. This breakdown of the joint itself can lead to varying amounts of pain that is caused from your joints rubbing together. Whether it’s stiffness, limited range of movement or direct pain, this tends to be an issue with some people as they get older.
- Shoulder instability – When you overuse or strain your shoulder, it can lead to core issues of instability within the shoulder itself. This means that the shoulder joint itself will be sliding in and out of place and cause strain, pinched nerves, over-extension and more. This is most common with professional athletes who are often going through repetitive motions at high stress amounts.
- Labral tears – Again popular with professional athletes, labral tears happen when the labrum, the cartilage around the shoulder itself, tears or rips and causes pain when moving the shoulder. This is common with repetitive movement as well as damage from just everyday wear and tear. It usually heals on its own but can require surgery if the tear is particularly advanced.
How to Treat Shoulder Pain
When you’re looking at finding a way to deal with your shoulder pain, you want options that are going to be safe, practical for regular day-to-day life and, most importantly, effective. We understand that, which is why we have put together some of the best things you can do for your shoulder pain, regardless of which of the five common conditions that you are suffering from.
- Get it diagnosed early – When it comes to shoulder pain and making sure treatment is as effective as possible, the earlier it gets diagnosed the better. Getting it diagnosed by a professional makes sure that you get to the root of the pain the fastest way possible. As soon as you notice recurring pain or stiffness in your shoulder, you should look at seeing a doctor and explaining your symptoms.
- Consider physical therapy – After the diagnosis is complete, the doctor will most likely suggest some physical therapy. This step is often skipped because most people find it tedious and it takes too long before they see results. Professionals trained in the area of pain management and recovery are going to be able to walk you through some great exercises that will help you. You just have to be patient and go through the motions. You might also have to switch therapists if you don’t get results from the first. In the end though, it is extremely important because it will make you stronger and more flexible. As well, exercising your shoulder – depending on what is causing your pain – can actually be helpful to help it recover faster as it will promote blood flow and help you get the area moving comfortably again. This is part of why determining from what kind of pain you are suffering from and its cause is so important to protecting yourself and your shoulder’s health.
- Adjust your sleeping position – While it’s frustrating to think about, our preferred method of sleep in terms of position can often be worsening your shoulder pain, so you will need to adjust your position to help with this. A professional can help with this, as they will know what sleeping positions help or hinder recovery from pain and discomfort in the shoulder area.
- Alternating between hot and cold therapy – Heat therapy is great for soothing stiffness in your joints and helps to relax your muscles. Cold therapy is a great option if you have a recent injury because ice (or cryotherapy) can help to reduce the discomfort by numbing the nerve endings and slowing down the rush of blood to the injured area. Often, people with shoulder pain will use a mix of both (e.g.: 10 minutes of heat, break for a few minutes, then 10 minutes of cold, etc.). Which one you use will depend on your situation.
We can’t stress this enough – understanding what is causing your pain and discomfort is extremely important to knowing how to deal with it accordingly. If you keep ignoring the pain, it will just get worse over time. So, if you have been suffering with shoulder pain for a while now, improve your situation by booking an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, to get it diagnosed properly. It’s time to start focusing on improving your health and comfort today.