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Topic of the Month: Shoulder


The shoulder is an amazing joint with a wide and versatile range of movement. However, because it has so many parts and moves in so many different ways, it can also be a source of instability and even injury in many people. Pain is commonplace, particularly as a result of overuse or a specific injury. Pain may start suddenly or increase gradually over time, depending on its cause. Treatment options for shoulder pain range from very conservative methods such as rest or physical therapy all the way up to surgical procedures. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, you can schedule an appointment with Redefine Healthcare to determine the cause of the pain and the best treatment plan for your specific injury. Here are four of the most common causes of this type of pain.

1. Biceps Tendinitis

Biceps tendinitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the upper bicep tendon, a strong, fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone. This tendon helps the elbow bend, the forearm turn, and the arm raise overhead. It often becomes irritated with repetitive lifting or routine overhead activities; this irritation may cause shoulder pain, weakness, and other symptoms. If you have biceps tendinitis, you may experience:

– Pain that may feel dull or sharp when moving; pain may continue even when the movement stops
– Pain or burning that may radiate to the upper arm
– Tenderness to the touch
– Trouble sleeping on the affected side
– Difficulty performing daily activities such as getting dressed

Most cases of biceps tendonitis can heal entirely with early detection and treatment. Some patients will respond very well to physical therapy and other conservative treatments; others will require surgery for complete healing.

2. Shoulder Bursitis

Shoulder bursitis involves the inflammation of the bursa in the shoulder. This condition is most common in patients 40 – 60 years of age but may also occur in younger people who engage in sports or other repetitive activities. Specific symptoms that may point to shoulder bursitis include:

– Pain in the upper front part of the shoulder
– Pain when lifting the arm overhead or sleeping on the affected side
– A feeling of tightness
– Swelling and/or redness
– Limited shoulder mobility
– Weakness

Ice, over-the-counter pain medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy are some of the conservative treatments that often resolve shoulder bursitis, although the condition may recur if the repetitive movement that caused it in the first place is continued. In some instances, surgery may be required.

3. Shoulder Tendinitis

Like biceps tendinitis, this type of tendinitis involves inflammation of a tendon but, in this case, it usually occurs in the subacromial space, located on the top of the shoulder. This condition is commonly caused by overuse and repetitive motions, although individuals who experience shoulder tendinitis are typically genetically predisposed. Other things that may increase a person’s risk include participation in sports such as swimming and tennis, falling onto the shoulder, poor posture, heavy lifting, and advancing age. Symptoms that may indicate shoulder tendonitis include:

– Pain when moving
– A feeling of tightness or tenderness in the affected area
– Pain that worsens overnight
– Increasing swelling and weakness as inflammation escalates

If diagnosed and treated early, many patients recover fully and regain normal function. However, severe cases and certain complications can necessitate surgical decompression.

4. Shoulder Subluxation

Shoulder subluxation is a dislocation injury in which the ball of the upper arm bone slips partially out of the glenoid socket (the socket of the scapula, or shoulder blade). The shoulder can dislocate in any of several different directions – forward, backward, or downward. A subluxation is usually caused by a forceful blow or extreme rotation.

Once a shoulder has become dislocated, it may be more prone to subluxations and dislocations in the future. As the most mobile joint in the human body, the shoulder contains a large number of bones, muscles, and ligaments that all must work together to maintain stability. Because of its high mobility, the joint is highly susceptible to this type of injury.

The symptoms of a shoulder subluxation include:

– Visibly deformed shoulder
– Humerus moving in and out of the socket
– Pain and tenderness, especially when moving the shoulder
– Shoulder swelling
– Numbness or tingling along the arm
– Reduced range of motion
– Clicking or popping sensation in the shoulder

Generally, subluxations self-correct when individuals rest the arm and avoid the motions that led to the injury. Ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication, and rest are all indicated as reliable treatment choices. In some cases, physical therapy can help aid in reducing discomfort and speeding recovery time. However, for repetitive subluxation events, or when a medical examination concludes weak ligaments may be the cause, a surgical procedure to correct the issue can be an option. In subluxations with no major tissue or nerve damage, the joint usually recover quickly and without complications. When a patient seeks prompt medical attention, the outlook is good.

If you are experiencing pain or other troublesome symptoms, contact us for a consultation. We can diagnose the issue and recommend an effective treatment plan to get you back to your regular routine as soon as possible.

Page Updated on Jul 31, 2019 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare


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Dr. Eric D. Freeman

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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