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Ultimate Guide to Shoulder Pain and Injury

The human body is a complex structure made up of numerous bones, veins, ligaments, tissues, and joints. Each part has its function and they all work together for the optimal functioning of the body. Although every part constituting the body is important, some supersede others in importance due to the position they hold, their structure, size, or the underlying fact that they hold strong importance as the spinal cord.

As such, among these delicate parts of the body is the shoulder. The human shoulder forms part of the biggest and intricate joints compounding the human system. This particular joint comes to being in respect with the humerus (upper arm bone) joining into the scapula (the shoulder blade), which now forms a moveable joint. The shoulder can move in different directions, as such, an injury to your shoulder will greatly restrain your ability to locomote the joint. It most times comes to play as severe aches, soreness, and cramps.

One distinguishing feature about the shoulder is, it is a complex array of bones liking to joints that assists the shoulder in attaining its maximum functionality. In this guide, you will learn about shoulder injuries and abnormalities, causal agents, and confirmed remedies to various modes of shoulder injuries.

What Then Is Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain and injuries can be said to be physical discomfort that affects the joints in the shoulder. Most times, some shoulder discomfort can occur as a result of internal injuries or intrinsic diseases, while some happen due to some external actions which include overuse, disuse, sprain, strain sleeping on the side. Sometimes, these odd conditions are mild and can be cured using home remedies like massaging the area with ointment and the likes, while some require medical experts before they can be given attention and cared for. 

Some common causes of Shoulder Injuries

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

This disease comes to being when there is a swelling or inflammation of the tendons. This often occurs after your shoulder has been placed in a single position for long periods or lying. on your shoulders, or performing tasks that entail raising your shoulders over your head. This condition is usually found in athletes that are involved with sports that entail raising their arms over their heads like weight-lifting, swimming, and tennis players.  It is sometimes known as “swimmer’s shoulder” or “pitcher’s shoulder.”

Shoulder Impingement

This condition is mostly found in swimmers, baseball, and softball players. It usually occurs when your rotator cuff which is a set of muscles and tendons that link the bones of your upper arm with your shoulder, rubs or creates friction with the acromion. The acromion is the top of your shoulder and the rotator cuff is under the acromion. Every time you make a motion of raising your arms, the bursa (space between your rotator cuff and acromion) constricts, which intensifies pressure. The intense and spiked increase in pressure creates irritation on the rotator cuff, resulting in impingement.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the joints, and more often than not, the pain and swelling can spread from one joint to numerous joints. The number of variants of arthritis numbers in the 100’s with various and distinctive roots and remedial techniques. The commonly seen types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

Swollen Bursa Sacs (Bursitis)

Bursae are sacs that contain fluid found in joints. They envelop the space where tendons, skin, and muscle tissues join up with the bones. Through the lubrication the fluid provides, friction is lessened every time movement takes place. Bursitis is simply a swelling, or feelings of soreness in the bursae. Swollen bursae can result in a lot of irritation and stiffness in the afflicted region. Movement in the joints is also impeded and reduced due to the swelling.

Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is just as it sounds, a dislocation in the shoulder. This is usually caused by a fall or an accident that occurred while playing sports. While a dislocated shoulder sounds simple, there is no doubt about the fact that it can be very painful and can cause great discomfort and hinder movement.

Specific Shoulder Injuries

Gout

This type of shoulder injury is another form of arthritis, whereby there is an agonizing inflammation of the shoulder joint causing serious pain to the victim. In this case, crystals form there in the affected joint. Gout occurring in the shoulder is quite a rare case. 

Frozen Shoulder

When this occurs, there would be a certain degree of stiffness movement of the arm. Inflammation also develops, causing severe pain in the patient. There would be an acute limitation to the movement of the shoulder. 

Labral Tear

The labrum is a cuff of cartilage that envelops the head of the humerus and when tears are caused on it due to overworking the shoulders or accidents. Oftentimes, labral tears heal without the need for surgery.

Shoulder dislocation

This happens when there is a shift in the humerus out of its normal position. A shift in any other bones would as well result in dislocation. When this happens, any movement of the arm causes serious pain and a popping kind of sensation. 

Rotator Curve Tear

When a tear occurs in any of the tendons or muscles that surround the humerus, this leads to a painful shoulder injury, resulting in a rotator curve tear. In some cases, it could be a result of steady overuse.

Shoulder

The acromion (edge of the scapula) weighs on the scapula every time the arm is raised. If any swelling or stiffness were to occur on the rotator cuff, this would result in shoulder pain.

Osteoarthritis

This happens mostly to the knee than the shoulder. It is as well a form of arthritis that happens when old age sets in. It often results in the wear and tear of tendons in the humerus area, which inflicts much pain on the patient. 

Physical Therapy Options

Physical therapy is a type of exercise that is usually prescribed by a doctor or a medical practitioner to a patient or a victim of an accident or injury that makes it hard for them to perform their day-to-day activities.

Depending on how serious the damage is, the therapist alongside the patient would decide on the best type of physical therapy that bests suits the patient. Some types of PT can be done at home, and some can be done at the treatment center. There are different types of Physical Therapy and each has its aims and a different function, while some help to relieve discomfort, some help you become more active. There are lots of Physical Therapy treatments that are suitable for Shoulder pains.

Ice Therapy

Ice therapy also known as the RICE (which means REST, ICE, COMPRESSION ELEVATION) treatment applauds the use of ice on wounded areas in the case of intense wounds. The ice aids in lessening the swelling and stiffness, which would result in pain reduction as well.

Heat Therapy

This is the direct opposite of ice therapy because while the ice therapy is meant to be performed within the first few instants of the injury, heat therapy would work better if used after 72 hours have elapsed. Similar to Ice therapy, it serves as a painkiller and helps relax tense muscles.

Hands-on Therapy

This is self-explanatory, as it demands that the therapist aids the patient in relaxing the wounded shoulder. Using their hands, the therapist applies pressure on the tissue by moving in a set direction to recover its motility.

Stretching

This type of therapy is specifically designed for the shoulder as it is devised to softly push further until you recover your mobility. Your therapist might add in different types of stretches that will make some parts of the shoulders and some part of the neck top priority.

Strengthening

This is a nicer way of saying exercise since your therapist may ask you to engage in some strengthening activity to lessen the pain at the injured area while doing the dual job of increasing the strength of your core. The main objectives of such exercises are to make you stronger than you were before the accident to prevent it from happening again.

Electrical Stimulation

Your physical therapist may decide to employ the use of electrical stimuli to trigger the nerves. Oftentimes, it is used to make the muscles contract and lessen swelling, but it can also serve as medical treatment.

Other Alternative Treatment Options

Medications

Painkillers could also help in reducing the pain you feel in your shoulders. Paracetamol or other painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (could be tablets or gels) gotten from a chemist or a pharmacy would help you reduce the pain.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a type of therapy that doesn’t require the use of drugs and it is getting acceptance all over the world. Acupuncture works by helping energy and blood to move more freely in the body thereby reducing the pain.

Injections

Injecting steroids into the joint can lighten the shoulder pains. The steroid is usually paired with an anesthetic to lighten the pain. The injection reduces swelling and helps you regain mobility. The decrease in pain also helps in your physiotherapy sessions easier, but you should take note that you should not heavily use the shoulder within the first two of receiving the injection.

Devices/equipment to Relieve Symptoms of Shoulder Pain

Cervical Neck “pillow”

This device provides an ergonomic brace up, straighten up your spine and give your vertebrae the massage it needs to ease your pain and all you need to do is lie down.

Braces

A shoulder brace will assist your shoulder by giving it support and reduce movement to the barest minimum while you wait on the doctor’s analysis and diagnosis to start your recovery process.

Shoulder orthoses

If you feel severe pain in your shoulders or joints, wearing orthoses would be a nice solution for you as they can be used as a pain reliever, or used as a support to quicken recovery from a wound by restricting movement on the strained joint.

Slings

Slings serve the same purposes as braces as they aid in immobilizing the shoulder to reduce the pain that is caused by an injury or accident.

Medical Procedures for Shoulder Issues

Oftentimes, the shoulder injuries are severe, so there is a need to go through a surgery session to correct the damage. It is sometimes recommended for shoulder injuries that are beyond the capacity of normal therapy. The surgeries can be within the limits of minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures (this process is one in which the surgical equipment is infused into your shoulder through tiny keyhole-like lacerations) or can be elaborate like the old-fashioned open surgeries that employ the use of scalpel and sutures. 

Each type of surgery has its advantages and disadvantages, drawbacks, and proper applications. Listed below are some of the different types of surgeries for shoulder pain:

Arthroscopy for Impingement Syndrome

This type of shoulder surgery is one of the commonly seen types to remedy impingement syndrome. Impingement syndrome is a disorder whereby the tendons of the rotator cuff are trapped and restricted during mobility, this causes harm to the tendons and the bursa. This surgery is usually done to increase the space between the rotator cuff and the acromion. The process of this surgery includes the sole removal of the bursa to make way for the rotator cuff to move without getting restricted.

Arthroscopy for Shoulder Dislocation

A shoulder is said to be dislocated when the ball of the shoulder joint protrudes out of the socket. This occurrence is mostly found in athletes. A dislocation is treated through a surgery called Bankart repair which attaches the labrum to the joint capsule and holds the ball back in place.

Arthroscopy for Frozen shoulder

This condition occurs when the capsule that encompasses the shoulder joint turns stiff and contracted. The surgery aims to slacken the stiff tissue to enable the shoulder to move freely.

Natural remedies for Shoulder Injuries/Pain

There are many causes of shoulder injuries and pain and there are numerous treatments and remedies. Shoulder pain is not uncommon as everybody suffers from it once in a while and numerous things can result in shoulder pains; Hefting a suitcase, lifting weights, raising our arms and other forms of daily activities can cause shoulder pains. Some shoulder pains can easily be treated at home without the need of a medical expert, and below is a list of treatments and remedies for shoulder pain or injuries:

Topical Solution

A topical solution is an alternative to supplements or medication if you would rather keep treatments externally. Joint Mud is a natural blend of ingredients that can help with pain and give back some range of motion.

Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

There are two major generic variants of NSAIDs: Ibuprofen and Naproxen. They are safe to use according to their labels. There are numerous brand names for both medications which include Advil (for ibuprofen) and Aleve (for Naproxen). These two are to be used under prescription from a medical expert.

Apply Heat to Your Shoulder

A hot shower can work wonders on a weary body and the same applies to your shoulder. Staying under a hot shower for 5-10 minutes can help reduce shoulder pain. Oftentimes, people complain of shoulder pain resulting from sleeping on the shoulder, a hot shower can take care of that as well.

Natural Supplements

If you’re not a fan of pain medication like NSAIDs due to their impact on the liver and stomach, try out a natural formula from Natural Joint. It can help alleviate joint pain and discomfort without the impact of pain medication.

Stretches

Giving the muscles that surround the shoulder joints can help with easing your pain and prevent possible injuries from occurring in the future.

Salt Bath

This is old-fashioned and traditional but there is no doubt about its efficacy. Fill a bathtub to the brim with warm water and add a dash of Epsom salts. Soak in the bath for 10-15 mins for a relaxing bath.

Conclusion

Shoulder injuries and pains are quite common in our everyday lives regardless of age or gender. The risks involved are osteoarthritis and injuries and the remedial options available are surgery, physiotherapy, and home treatments. It is advisable to consult your doctor or a medical expert if you notice any pain, discomfort, or stiffness around your shoulders.

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