The shoulder joint is designed for mobility. It allows us to do complex things these like playing tennis, lifting weights and alternatively very simple things like hanging the washing. However, because of this incredible mobility it is also the least stable of our joints. Therefore, it is the most common joint to dislocate or subluxate.
Also, functionally the shoulder complex is comprised of four different joints. All of them need to function well to allow full pain free movement. Therefore,its not a surprise that things can go wrong very easily
There are numerous reasons why you may be experiencing shoulder pain, and the severity can range from the temporary discomfort of a pulled muscle to the agonizing bone-on-bone friction of arthritis.
Shoulder pain can take many forms – it can show up when you’re reaching toward the top shelf to put dishes away or when you’re struggling to find a comfortable position to sleep. It can show up as a result of an injury, making you feel a dull aching pain, or even make you feel as if your shoulder is immobile.
Common causes for shoulder pain
The complexities of the shoulder joint present many opportunities for pain-causing conditions. Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain include:
Impingement typically occurs because of abnormal movement and tracking of the humeral head as you lift your arm overhead. Pain typically starts when lifting your arm at or above 90 degrees.
Rotator cuff tear
The rotator cuff is composed of 4 muscles, tendons, and soft tissue that surround the shoulder joint. The job of the rotator cuff is to correctly guide the movement of the shoulder joint. With injury, overuse, poor posture, or even age, the rotator cuff can be partially or completely torn. Depending on the severity and situation, sometimes surgery is needed, but often the correct physical therapy treatments can help reduce pain and restore strength to the rotator cuff to compensate for the partial tear. If surgery is needed, physical therapy is an integral part of the pre and post-surgical rehabilitation for a full recovery.
Also known as “adhesive capsulitis,” frozen shoulder can occur if your arm has been in a cast or sling for a while, or if you have been bedridden for an extended period of time. It results in a painful loss of motion in the shoulder with a tightening of the shoulder joint that severely limits motion. There are some ethnicities that are more predisposed, and women tend to have more instances than men. Frozen shoulder is more common in women in the 40-60 years of age.
Tendinitis occurs when the shoulder joint is excessively overused typically due to the demands of a laborious job, overhead activity, or sport. Furthermore, poor posture is a major contributor, as this alters the normal forces on the tendons, and can set you up for tendon injury. This causes the tendons to undergo ongoing inflammation, resulting in swelling and painful impingement when raising your arm.
The two main forms of arthritis that affect the shoulder are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder joint experiences significant “wear and tear,” typically due to age or excessive overuse. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system decides to attack the membranes surrounding the shoulder joint, resulting in pain and inflammation. Both of these result in pain, loss of motion, weakness to the shoulder muscles, and difficulty performing normal, daily tasks.
Shockwave therapy can be very beneficial in treating shoulder pain and can potentially help to avoid medications and steroid injections.