Shoulder pain can be mild or severe. There are also people who suffer from continuous, excruciating shoulder pain with varying causes of shoulder pain. Different conditions and injuries can generate pain around the shoulder area including fractures, dislocations and breakage occurring on the bones that make up the shoulder joint. Other structures and tissues like muscles, ligaments and tendons that surround the shoulder joints may also cause shoulder pain when injury or inflammation to these structures exist. Muscles, ligaments and tendons around the shoulder can undergo wear and tear, become worn, thicken, compress or degenerate. All these conditions can cause shoulder pain. There are different types of treatment available for shoulder pain. However, the source and type of shoulder pain occurring can determine the most effective treatment method. In some shoulder pain cases, medical intervention may be needed to properly identify the cause of the pain. The best shoulder pain treatment options include rest, massages, exercises, medication, therapy, heat or cold applications, electrical stimulations and stretching. Shoulder pain treatments involving medications can include prescription pain medication or cortisone injections to treat tendon, muscle and cartilage inflammation. If an individual is experiencing slight shoulder pain because of strain on the bones of the shoulder joints or mild pain from overuse of an arm, an appropriate treatment for less severe shoulder pain could be rest. Resting the arm and shoulder can give the affected area time to heal or recover from strain or overuse.
In other severe instances of shoulder pain, rest is also usually recommended by doctors as an accompanying treatment to other treatment methods such as surgery or medication. In addition to resting the shoulder, shoulder pain treatment can involve applying ice or heat to the shoulder. This treatment method works efficiently for shoulder dislocations, swelling, bruising, numbness and muscle spasms around the shoulder joint. A shoulder dislocation can overwhelm the surrounding muscles and tear the ligaments or tissues around the joint. After resetting the affected bones, the cartilage, tissues and muscles that are affected need relief as well. The application of ice or heat can soothe the tissues around the bones. For severe injuries, surgery may also be necessary to correct or fix the position of bones, muscles and cartilage within the shoulder area. However, when dislocations are frequent, the best shoulder treatment option could be surgery.
Also, if torn ligaments exist, a doctor could perform surgery to fix it. In some cases, a less invasive and conservative form of treatment such as rest, wearing a sling or keeping the shoulder joints immobile may be necessary. If surgery is prescribed, modern surgical methods can be less invasive than was possible many years ago. Although open surgical methods are more traditional, there are current surgical methods which can involve the insertion of a device known as an arthroscope into a relatively tiny incision in the shoulder area. This device enables the doctor fix the problem with the shoulder in a manner that is even less invasive than was previously possible. This is referred to as arthroscopic surgery and can involve less pain afterwards and reduced recovery time.
Other shoulder pain treatment methods involve stretching, physical therapy and exercise. Similar to resting the arm and shoulder, stretching, physical therapy and exercise may also be recommended by a doctor as a shoulder pain treatment method or program that can help return the shoulder to normal use and freedom from pain. Physical therapy may also include both stretching and exercises that are meant to improve use of the shoulder. If a formal physical therapy regimen is not recommended by a doctor, routines involving stretching and exercise may be sufficient. Typically, stretching may be incorporated as warm-up sessions to shoulder pain exercise treatment programs. As a person suffering from shoulder pain stretches his or her arms and shoulder joints, muscles, tendons and cartilage surrounding the shoulder joints are forced to move and release some of the tension that causes shoulder pain. Regular stretching is not only good for the shoulder area joints but can help to keep other joints in the body nimble and flexible.
With flexible and relaxed joints, normal use of the arm and shoulder will not cause pain. Stretching should be done slowly and once the limit of the stretch has been reached, the person should hold the stretch for a few seconds to gain optimum benefits of the stretch. Also, physical therapy can be beneficial in addressing many orthopedic injuries and related pain. The goal of using physical therapy is to generate controlled motion for the shoulder and arm. People suffering from shoulder pain can build back the strength and gain increased mobility in the affected shoulder area through physical therapy. In addition to stretching, specific exercises that can be used during physical therapy include core strengthening exercises and stability exercises. These exercises are aimed at returning the injured portion of the shoulder to its pre-injury state in terms of strength, mobility and ability to remain functional when moved from a position of rest.
In addition to focusing on the strength of the shoulder joints, core and stability exercises also draw on the power of a stable frame and body based on the perception that weakness at a core level allows room for increased risk of injury to any part of the body. A stable frame that benefits from regular exercise can be less susceptible to muscle and cartilage tears, bone fractures and other related shoulder injuries. It can be difficult to exercise the arm and shoulder area if pain is uncontrolled or if exercises are not properly conducted. However, an adequate shoulder pain rehabilitation program involving exercises can ensure that no additional damage or harm is done to the affected shoulder. Exercise can also be effective in introducing and restoring motion back to the affected shoulder.
Another benefit of exercise as a treatment for shoulder pain is the strengthening of muscles around the shoulder. Common exercises for shoulder pain treatment are called pendulum exercises and these exercises use the hands as pendulums which swing around when the individual is in a bent position. There are different variants of pendulum exercises which could be used to provide relief from pain. When using exercise to treat shoulder pain, a gradual approach should be considered to avoid over-exerting the bones, tendons and other structures around the shoulder.
Rick Kaselj, MS