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Shoulder Pain - How Serious is It?

Shoulder Pain Can Be Very Serious

Shoulder pain can be extremely disruptive to your normal daily functioning. Yet some may be uncertain whether it is a pain that will go away over time. Some injuries are less painful during the day but become more bothersome when sleeping on it or during certain movements. However, ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

If it is a fairly new and tolerable pain, home treatments of rest, an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, and limiting activity may help. Are you concerned that it is something serious and wondering if you should see a doctor? Well honestly, if you are asking this question then the answer is yes.

Pain in your shoulder with basic daily movements such as brushing your hair or putting on your shirt could indicate a tear or other type of structural injury. If your pain is consistent and has lasted for several days you should see a shoulder specialist sooner than later, as your condition can worsen and could become harder to treat. Here are some common shoulder problems that can be treated by a specialist:


Rotator Cuff Tear: An injury such as a rotator cuff tear is actually a very common shoulder injury. Falling down and catching yourself with an outstretched arm, or lifting something heavy can cause the tear. Alternatively, it may develop over time with repetitive activities that include shoulder motion. It can also just be a symptom of aging and the degeneration of tissue. 

The pain from a rotator cuff injury may still be tolerable during the day and only hurts with certain movements or when sleeping. However, leaving this untreated can only make it worse and prolong your pain. It could be a small tear, or partial tear, but when untreated it could become a total tear. Tears will not heal on their own and many need surgery. When caught early the recovery time can decrease allowing you to get back to your normal life sooner and feeling great. 


Tendonitis: Pain in the shoulder could also be from the swelling of the tendons that connect the muscles and bones. Known as tendonitis, it may also cause pain at night, especially when lying on the affected shoulder. Symptoms can include weakness and loss of motion when raising the arm above your head or behind your back and stiffness with lifting or movement.

In Tendonitis, the tendons can become overworked and eventually they become damaged. The good news is that tendonitis reacts well to treatment such as  therapy and you can find relief with basic over-the-counter medication or applying heat or ice and resting the area. However there is also an opportunity to weaken the shoulder and make it more susceptible to more serious problems so be sure to ask your shoulder specialist for the best method of repair.


AC Joint Injury: Injury to the acromioclavicular joint can cause a separation from the collar bone and bone at the top of the shoulder. It can be caused by falling directly on the shoulder or taking a direct blow to the area. The pain will be felt at the top of the shoulder and can often be associated with a fractured clavicle.

Mild injuries can be easily treated, however more severe injuries can lead to extreme loss of strength and functioning. There could be a tear in the area which again, should be treated soon so that the tear does not worsen. Most patients recover with full functioning.


Dislocated Shoulder: If you feel that you have dislocated your shoulder, but yet it went right back into place it could have lasting problems to the labrum, rotator cuff, or other important structures in the shoulder. Once this injury has occurred it is common to have recurring dislocations and shoulder instability. 

Seeing an orthopedic surgeon can help diagnose the problem. Minimally invasive arthroscopic shoulder stabilization is a technique that will help restore the strength and functioning of the area and significantly decrease the frequency of dislocation. 

These injuries are just common examples of shoulder ailments that should be diagnosed and treated by a specialist. Ultimately it is up to you to listen to your body for signs that it is in distress. You should not be living with daily pain, it can be treated and have you back to your normal lifestyle free of pain. Make an appointment with a shoulder specialist today. 


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