Shoulder Injuries: Common Causes and Treatments

Kate Keenan blog

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are relatively common among the American population. In the last year alone, almost eight million Americans visited their doctor with a primary complaint of pain to one or both shoulders, with perhaps millions more who never seek medical attention for their injured shoulders.

Most shoulder injuries are musculoskeletal, meaning they involve injuries to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, or joints of the shoulder.

It is most common that these injuries are caused by overuse, repetitive use, or a one-time injury during work or athletic activities. These may include reaching or moving objects as well as playing tennis, volleyball, rugby, or other sports.

Knowing the type of injury, you have, and the mechanism of its cause can help determine a treatment plan that will have you back to your full range of daily activities in no time.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are among the most common complaints seen in a typical orthopedic practice. These include torn rotator cuffs as well as tendinitis that affects the rotator cuffs.

The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons that surround the socket portion of the shoulder joint. When there is a tear in any of these muscles or joints, such as with repetitive motion, it can cause a dull ache known as a rotator cuff tear. When the surrounding tendons become inflamed and sore, this is known as rotator cuff tendinitis.

Arthritis of the Shoulder

The shoulder is one of the joints most commonly affected by arthritis. The most common type of arthritis affecting the shoulder is osteoarthritis, which is commonly caused by simple wear and tear to the shoulder joint.

Other types of arthritis that may affect the shoulder joint include rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.

If you experience aching or stiffness in the shoulder joints in addition to pain and discomfort, arthritis may be the cause of your shoulder problems.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition also known as adhesive capsulitis, wherein the shoulder is stiff to the point where it cannot be moved by yourself, or often even with the assistance of another person. This experience can be a little unnerving for those who develop it suddenly, though it is not an uncommon condition.

Frozen shoulder can have a rapid onset, though people who experience it commonly go through a “freezing” stage prior to having a full-onset frozen shoulder. This is often a reduction of range of motion, sensation, and the associated increase in stiffness.

Treating Your Shoulder Injury

As with other injuries to the musculoskeletal system, the best initial shoulder pain remedies include rest and liberal application of ice. If not contraindicated, taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help with initial management of pain, discomfort, and swelling.

Physiotherapy and massage are two other useful shoulder pain treatments. Massage is great for pain relief, overall wellness and relaxation, and helping to loosen and relax tight and painful shoulder musculature. Physiotherapy can help identify ways to strengthen muscles to support the affected joint and reduce the chances of future injury.

Acupuncture and therapeutic electrical stimulation are also helpful treatment that provide relief to many people suffering from shoulder injuries. Consulting a qualified chiropractor can help you to determine the best treatment for your shoulder arthritis.

Kate's interest in the medical field began with her mother, who worked as a Special Care Nursery nurse for 50 years. Kate began working in the medical field with a mobile X-ray company, where she continued to foster her interest and learn critical information about a variety of diseases and conditions, along with the processes of diagnosing and treating them. Kate has been writing professionally for 12 years, and she is working on her Masters in English. She loves dogs, good food, and the beach.