Shoulder pain can occur in both men and women. However, it is important to discuss shoulder pain from the perspective of women and understand possible symptoms, causes and other related issues regarding shoulder pain in women.
Common Questions about Shoulder Pain in Women
People have various questions regarding shoulder pain. In particular, common shoulder pain questions that pertain to women include the following:
- Does the kind of shoulder pain that occurs in women differ greatly from shoulder pain that occurs in men?
- Are there special factors that need to be considered when discussing shoulder pain in women?
- How serious is shoulder pain in women?
Shoulder pain in women can get serious. Serious conditions such as heart attack symptoms in women could include pain in left shoulder. Women who are having a heart attack usually experience tightness in the chest that radiates towards the shoulder. Hence, women who are complaining of left shoulder pain may need immediate medical attention. However, this depends on the seriousness of situation at hand. Cardiac problems can also create tingling in the left shoulder, which should not be ignored. On the contrary, men typically have chest pains when experiencing heart attacks.
However, not all left shoulder pain can be attributed to cardiac problems. Pain in any of the shoulders may occur due to inflammation in the bones, muscles and joints. Tendons, cartilages and other ligaments could also become inflamed, generating shoulder pain. Women may experience pain from gas problems or back aches. Such pain radiates through the body including the shoulders.
Arthritis is a common cause of consistent shoulder pain in women and can severely affect comfort and quality of life. Some forms of arthritis attack cartilage at the shoulder joints in women and cause tissue degradation and deterioration. As the muscles, tendons and cartilage surrounding the bones deteriorate, bones begin to get misaligned and in some cases may begin to touch or rub against each other. This friction creates instances of mild to excruciating pain. Other forms of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis can create widespread inflammation throughout the body and cause pain in the shoulder joints and other joints or organs in the body.
Another distinguishing trait in terms of women and shoulder pain is with regards to the unique frame that women have. Women are not necessarily prone to more accidents than men, but it is useful to be aware of the fact that the way women may approach lifting heavy loads or doing strenuous work can differ from how men would tackle the same task. Hence, varieties of shoulder pain complaints in women are as a result of accidents or strain on the shoulder joints. These shoulder joints are very mobile and allow a wide range of angles. This is great but it can also leave room for potential injury, if improper posture or motions occur. Incorrect lifting techniques, especially movement that involves significantly heavy items could result in shoulder pain.
Of course, there are occasions when causes of shoulder pain could affect both men and women. An example is a frozen shoulder which could occur if the shoulder has been immobilized for a long time. It affects men and women alike. Damage to the shoulder labrum or rotator cuffs from trauma or accidents may also create shoulder pain. Just as cardiac problems can generate shoulder pain on the left side of the body, ailments such as abscess of the liver, stomach ulcers, esophagus disorders, gallbladder disease and breast cancer can also create shoulder pain on the right side. For women, depending on which breast is affected, progression of the breast cancer may cause pain to the shoulder above the affected breast. If pain intensifies around the shoulder area in a person with breast cancer, it can indicate a severe spread of the disease.
Lifestyle and Shoulder Pain in Women
Sometimes, sedentary lifestyles and careers can also contribute to shoulder pain, especially in women. There are workplace environments where more active jobs are reserved or preferably given to men while women take on sedentary roles including administrative positions, filing papers or other job positions that involve remaining a particular spot for long periods of time. Even beyond sedentary careers, women also find that their lifestyles have the tendency to become more sedentary as they age. In contrast, men usually have a higher likelihood of continuing or discovering hobbies or sports as they age or retire. Such hobbies or sports are typically active types of hobbies or sports like golf, tennis or fishing.
However, as women age, they can become less active or adopt hobbies which are more relaxed or less physical such as knitting, keeping a scrap book or just watching television. These traits and shifts in lifestyle can lead to aches and pains around the body, including shoulder pain in women. Shoulder pain can also develop in women when their bodies are unable to properly absorb calcium. Instead, deposits of calcium accumulate around the shoulder joints and rotator cuff. The presence of calcium deposits round the bones prevent the joints from functioning normally. The deposits become foreign substances that create friction, unevenness and pain.
There is also weakness in the joint areas as the calcium deposits move through the surrounding tissue. When the calcium deposits affect the tendons of the rotator cuff, a condition called calcific tendonitis can develop. Calcium tendinitis can be linked to older women with sedentary lifestyles. Hence, women are encouraged to have an active lifestyle, especially as they age because as aging occurs, there are increased chances of cutting back some of the activity that may have been easily or more readily experienced in previous years. In addition, the increased probability of acquiring conditions like arthritis as aging occurs does not provide any relief to women. Instead, ailments and other limitations serve as catalysts to encourage less active lifestyles.
Hence, with respect to shoulder pain in women, it can also be a case of conditions that get progressively worse. For instance, women experiencing shoulder pain due to arthritis in the shoulder joints may be more inclined to be less active and can then develop even worse shoulder pain conditions. In many situations, shoulder pain in women can be a debilitating condition. In some cases, treatment and relief may be provided at home through different measures including the application of ice or heat to the location of the pain. Exercise can also help women move the affected joints and create some relief from the pain.
Rick Kaselj, MS