Shoulder pain is an incredibly common complaint of Americans. As a main hub of joints, muscle, and tendons, the shoulder undergoes near constant motion and activity, which puts it at high risk for injury. Often, the source of shoulder pain is the rotator cuff.
Shoulder pain often results from:
- Irritation or damage from tendinitis affecting the rotator cuff’s tendons
- Bursitis causes swelling and tenderness at the tendon
- Impingement of the acromion – this means that when your arm is raised to your shoulder level, you may experience the sensation of the bones rubbing together; this is the narrowing of the space between the rotator cuffs and the acromion. When these two parts of the shoulder rub together, it can cause significant discomfort and irritation
Causes of Shoulder Pain and Rotator Cuff Problems
Pain in the shoulders, and specifically the rotator cuff, is relatively common and affects a broad range of people, from the young and athletic to the middle-aged and elderly. Rotator cuff pain and problems are especially common in athletes that rely heavily on their arms and shoulders, especially those that participate in swimming, tennis, and baseball. Also vulnerable to rotator cuff injury are those whose regular activities involve frequent overhead lifting or reaching. While shoulder and rotator cuff pain may result from injury, cases also occur with age or regular wear and tear.
Symptoms of Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Problems
Tenderness, inflammation, and swelling at the shoulder site are common aspects of the pain associated with rotator cuff injuries. When lifting or lowering your affected arm, you may also experience stiffness and discomfort.
While the early symptoms of rotator cuff pain may seem mild, these are symptoms to look out for that my indicate a developing problem with your rotator cuff:
- Subtle pain noticeable while active and while resting
- Pain that radiates from the side of the arm to the front of the shoulder
- Sudden bursts of pain while reaching or lifting
- Sports players that engage in overhead activity, like throwing or swinging may feel pain while using their shoulder
As the initial symptoms worsen, you might experience more severe indicators of a rotator cuff problem. These advanced symptoms include:
- Shoulder pain during the night
- Shoulder and arm weakness
- A decrease in your range of motion
- Trouble performing tasks that require you to reach towards your back, like stretching or zippering
Doctor Examination for Shoulder Pain and Impingement
After discussing your medical history and symptoms, your doctor will examine your shoulder and rotator cuff for injury to rule out other potential sources of your pain. To ensure the most accurate diagnosis, your doctor may perform a series of tests and scans, like an x-ray, ultrasound, or an MRI.
Treatment for Shoulder Impingement and Rotator Cuff Injuries
A non-surgical route may be your initial approach to treatment, and although it may take longer to see positive results, over time you may be able to notice a gradual improvement of your symptoms. Non-surgical treatments include:
- Non-steroid based anti-inflammatory medicines
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
Surgical treatment treatment may be necessary if nonsurgical methods have failed to provide relief. There are minimally invasive procedures available that can further investigate the cause of your shoulder pain as well as treat any injury r condition below the surface. Shoulder arthroscopy is used to fully examine the shoulder and subacromial space to evaluate the source of the impingement and treat it adequately using only a few small incisions. Surgery for impingement involves trimming the prominent portion of the acromion bone and taking out the inflamed bursal tissue.
At the end of the shoulder surgery, incisions are closed with stitches and covered with a dressing, and the majority of patients go home the same day wearing a sling following by a course of physical therapy.
Sick and tired of shoulder pain from impingement and tendinitis? Don't spend another minute suffering. It's time to get treated so you never have to deal with shoulder pain again. Do you need comprehensive orthopedic care in Los Angeles? Please call West Medical today at (855) 690-0565 to set up an appointment!
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