Simple movements like turning the wrong way or throwing a ball can lead to troubling shoulder pain. It may just be a muscle strain, but you may have done serious damage to one of the many soft tissues in your shoulder. Another possibility is an underlying medical condition like arthritis. Visit one of our shoulder pain injury treatment specialists at Redefine Healthcare, a NJ pain management clinic (with six convenient locations in New Jersey) for a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment for your shoulder pain.
You’ve just finished helping your best friend move into their new place and now you’re experiencing significant shoulder pain. Someone just rear-ended you at the stoplight and you notice left shoulder pain from your seat belt. That last golf shot triggered noticeable right shoulder pain, and you’re worried about maintaining your handicap.
All of these incidences and more can contribute to your need to seek shoulder pain treatment. Your pain management doctor in NJ at Redefine Healthcare works hard to treat the root cause of your shoulder pain so you can return to the things that matter to you. Pinpointing whether your shoulder pain comes from a muscle or ligament injury or involves the shoulder joint lets your shoulder pain doctor determine the best treatment possible for you.
Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain
The shoulder is one of the most commonly used joints in the body. For this reason, shoulder pain is prone to different problems and medical conditions leading to shoulder pain, swelling, difficulties moving the shoulder into different directions, decreased motility, etc. Shoulder pain occurs when the shoulder joint experiences a problem, or the tissues surrounding it.
Although shoulder pain may arise from arthritis or even indicate a heart condition as you age, when you’re younger, it’s usually caused by injury or strain. Some of the conditions our physicals will check for include injuries to or because of:
Arthritis in the Shoulder
There are various forms of arthritis, and they can all affect the shoulder joint. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is an autoimmune disorder caused by the attack of the synovium by the immune system. When this occurs in the shoulder joint, inflammation causes a hindrance to joint movement and pain when the joint is moved.
Osteoarthritis develops with age as the cartilage within the joint wears off due to overuse. This form of arthritis too leads to inflammation and pain when the joint is moved, and can also be the cause of shoulder pain. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for either forms of arthritis.
Injury and trauma
The shoulder joint is surrounded by muscle, tendons, and ligaments which all enable the movement of the arm. When these tissues become damaged due to traumatic events, they can then lead to shoulder pain. For example, muscles and tendons can be torn due to traumatic impact around the shoulder, which causes severe shoulder pain. Besides this direct injury, the tissues surrounding the joint can also become inflamed and then cause shoulder pain.
Even though the shoulder joint is meant to move and support activity, overuse can still cause shoulder pain. This is most often observed in athletes who perform activities involving the shoulder like javelin throwers. People who also do manually intensive work can also overuse their shoulders, also leading to Nerve impingement and shoulder pain.
When the muscles are repeatedly contracted and relaxed, they rub against the tendons and ligaments too much and lead to inflammation. There can be 2 causes of shoulder pain from overuse – tendonitis and bursitis. Tendonitis occurs when the tendon has been overused and becomes swollen while bursitis occurs when the bursa is inflamed.
Medically, these problems are referred to as rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis because they affect the rotator cuff.
Shoulder instability refers to a situation where the shoulder joint does not move as it is supposed to. The worst case scenario involves a complete dislocation of the joint where the ball of the humerus pops out of the shoulder blade socket. More often, there is usually only some difficulty or hindrance to the joint’s movement. Instability is often caused by trauma which knocks the joint out of place, but it can also happen gradually and naturally. Either way, it leads to shoulder pain that will need medical attention.
Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, leading to shoulder pain, swelling, redness and a thickening of the affected bursa. Bursa is a filled sac with fluid, located around every joint in the human body, surrounded by tendons, muscles, and skin. Bursa helps lubricate the joint while moving it reducing this way the friction with every movement. In most cases shoulder bursitis is caused by repeated trauma to the shoulder joint or an overuse of this joint.
Because your shoulder joint involves bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and muscles that allow such a wide range of motion, determining the exact cause of your shoulder pain requires experience and detective work. Activities as simple as scratching your back or tossing a ball in the yard can inflame or impinge soft tissue.
Athletes are especially susceptible to rotator cuff injury as repetitive motions increase wear and tear on joints. Come visit our clinic and meet one of our NJ shoulder pain doctors if you have a pain as a result of a rotator cuff injury. We can help.
Regardless of the cause behind your shoulder pain, you should visit one of our nearby clinics and seek medical help. In many cases no treatment is needed or only conservative treatment which require applying warm or cold packs, taking over the counter painkillers and in cases of severe pain, prescribed painkillers, giving your shoulder the needed time to rest and recover. However, in serious cases a specialized treatment might be necessary, sometimes even surgical treatment.
Symptoms of Shoulder Pain
Whether you have shoulder pain or shoulder blade pain, our NJ pain management clinic needs to know more about your symptoms, including when they started, what makes them worse and what gives you relief.
Some common symptoms of shoulder blade pain include:
- A dull, achy feeling that gets worse with certain movements
- A tingling, pins-and-needles feeling, sometimes accompanied by numbness and weakness that can affect both shoulders
- Grinding, snapping, grating sensations, accompanying dull pain when you move your shoulder
- An achy feeling between your shoulder blades, especially after being in one position for a long time
- Sudden, sharp and severe pain after a fall, accident or blow
- Noticeable arm weakness, especially after repetitive motions
- Occasionally dull, aching pain, accompanied by a small, pea-size lump in the muscle that’s tender and painful to the touch
If you experience sharp pain after an injury or your pain includes nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath and unexplained weight loss, check with your Redefine Healthcare shoulder doctor quickly, as these may be indicators of referred shoulder pain. Referred pain usually indicates an underlying medical condition, which may be serious.
Getting Treatment for Your Shoulder Pain
After assessing your symptoms and discussing your medical history, your local shoulder pain specialist may order imaging tests such as x-rays, MRIs or CT scans, along with electrical studies to evaluate your nerves and muscle response. Rarely, exploratory surgery using arthroscopy is required to pinpoint the exact cause of your shoulder pain. A diagnosis has to precede shoulder joint pain treatment or shoulder muscle pain treatment.
Usually, conservative shoulder pain treatment works well. Your shoulder pain specialist prescribes rest and activity reduction for a specific amount of time. This gives inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments a chance to heal. Pay close attention to which activities aggravate your shoulder pain; reducing these activities also lets your shoulder heal.
Along with activity restrictions, our shoulder injury doctors may prescribe heat, ice, physical therapy and accompanying strength and flexibility exercises, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers. If your pain is severe or isn’t reduced by these methods, prescription medication, such as painkillers or muscle relaxants, may help. Your doctor also offers steroid injections to combat inflammation and reduce pain.
How Is Shoulder Dislocation Treated?
If you suspect you have a shoulder dislocation, you should seek immediate medical help. Normally you will be in an extreme pain and you will not be able to move your shoulder so it’s necessary to get professional medical help. Make sure to keep your shoulder steady and immobilized as much as possible until you get to your nearby shoulder pain specialist.
The reduction is needed in order to return the dislocated humerus to its own place into the bone socket. Shoulder reduction needs to be performed as soon as possible by a trained medical professional or our shoulder doctor in order to prevent any further damage to the shoulder and the structures nearby. An X- ray of the damaged shoulder is necessary in order to diagnose any possible fractures. In certain cases, the reduction process is very painful for the patient, so general anesthesia might be needed. A surgical reduction is also an option, especially for young people who are physically active as well. Repeated shoulder dislocations are common.
Immobilization of the injured shoulder is needed, immediately after shoulder reduction. You will probably need to immobilize your shoulder for the next 5 or 7 days. In cases of any fractures, the immobilization time is normally longer.
Over the counter painkillers, as well as, stronger prescribed painkillers are recommended as shoulder dislocation is associated with extreme pain.
Surgery is the last treatment option, when conservative treatment have failed to treat the shoulder dislocation, when the dislocation is accompanied by a fracture of the bones or damage to the surrounding tissues such as ligaments, tendons, nerves, or blood vessels, as well as, in cases of repeated shoulder dislocations. The goal of the surgical treatment is to stabilize the shoulder joint as much as possible and repair any damaged structures of the joint.
Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Pain
If you have recurring dislocations or rotator cuff injuries, your doctor may suggest surgical options. Often done arthroscopically, surgery repairs tendon tears, removes bone spurs or reduces impinging scar tissue. Rarely, larger reconstructions or shoulder joint replacement requires open surgical procedures.
Your pain management specialist at Redefine Healthcare works toward symptom relief while treating the underlying cause. Most people benefit from conservative shoulder pain treatments, but your doctor is well-versed in both non-invasive treatments and surgical procedures to give you the best results possible and get you back to the work and play you enjoy most.
Contact the best NJ pain management doctors and shoulder experts of Redefine Healthcare at the first sign of shoulder pain to increase your chances of a quick recovery.
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In-network, tier-one facility
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Central & Northern NJ
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