Posts Tagged ‘shoulder’

The 4 Most Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Causes of shoulder pain Whether you’re throwing a football, unloading the dishwasher or scratching your back, shoulder pain can compromise even the most basic daily activity. Here’s how to identify and treat the biggest instigators of shoulder pain, which include:

  • Arthritis
  • Fracture (broken bone)
  • Instability
  • Tendon inflammation and tears

The shoulder is made up of tendons, muscles and bones. Its main purpose is to position your hand for your everyday tasks and movements. Since the shoulder is such a mobile joint, it’s more prone to instability or impingement in its soft tissues. This can lead to acute (sudden) or chronic pain.

1. Arthritis

Arthritis is a frequent cause of shoulder pain. The most common form of arthritis in the shoulder is osteoarthritis, which is known as “wear and tear” arthritis and may crop up as you age.

Many people respond to arthritis pain by reducing their shoulder movements, but this can backfire and cause tightness or stiffness in the soft tissues of the shoulder joint. It can also lead to significant pain when moving the shoulder.

Osteoarthritis is often caused by chronic movements, inflammation of the joint lining from rheumatoid arthritis, work injuries or sports injuries.

Treatments: Rest, physical therapy and at-home range-of-motion exercises can be helpful in relieving pain. Your doctor may also suggest anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, to reduce your symptoms. If conservative treatments don’t help, you may need to have joint replacement surgery.

2. Fracture

A fracture, or broken bone, is another common cause of shoulder pain, swelling and bruising. Shoulder fractures often involve the:

  • Collarbone (clavicle)
  • Shoulder blade (scapula)
  • Upper arm bone (humerus)

Fractures are typically caused by a fall in older patients or a sports or vehicle injury in younger patients.

Treatments: Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to wear a basic sling for three to eight weeks. For worse injuries, you may need surgery.

3. Instability

Shoulder instability means the head of the arm bone (the humeral head) is displaced from the shoulder socket, often as a result of trauma or serious injury. This can cause a “catching” or slipping feeling the shoulder or even a complete dislocation where the ball of the arm bone comes out of the shoulder socket completely.

This can cause the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the shoulder to tear or loosen, which can lead to repeated dislocations. Repeated dislocations lead to pain, unsteadiness and eventually, arthritis.

Treatments: Your doctor will maneuver the arm bone back into the shoulder socket. After that, you will likely wear a sling for a few weeks as the injury heals. If you experience future shoulder dislocations, you may need surgery to correct the problem.

4. Tendon Inflammation and Tears

Shoulders are prone to overuse injuries from repetitive tasks, such as overhead lifting. This often shows up in the form of tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendons, and bursitis, inflammation of the bursa.

The bursa is a fluid-filled sac between tendons and bones that allows them to glide easily. If the bursa is inflamed, the tendons may scrape against the shoulder bones resulting in weakness or tearing. This is called impingement.

The four rotator cuff tendons are the most susceptible to tendinitis. When the tendons are inflamed, there’s less space for the tendons and muscles to move within the joint.

Treatments: Rest your shoulder and avoid positions or activities (like overhead lifting) that cause pain. If this doesn’t help, your doctor may recommend a cortisone injection to decrease inflammation and pain, as well as physical therapy.

Get Treatment for Shoulder Pain

If you’re experiencing frequent, disruptive pain throughout your day — and caring for your shoulder injury at home hasn’t helped — it may be time to get help from a medical professional.

The orthopedic surgeons at Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center specialize in treating all types of shoulder conditions and injuries. Don’t live with the pain another day.

Call us today at 404-778-3350 to schedule an appointment.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

shoulder-painThe shoulder is a region of the body comprised of several bones, muscles and tendons. The shoulder’s main function is to help position the hand in space whether it is scratching your back to throwing a football. But mobility has its price: it can lead to increasing problems with instability or impingement of the soft tissues in your shoulder, resulting in pain that may be temporary or continuous.

Most shoulder problems fall into five major categories:

  • Tendon inflammation and tears
  • Instability
  • Arthritis
  • Fracture (broken bone)

Tendon Inflammation and tears

Overuse activities tend to affect people in the form of bursitis and tendinitis. Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon, while bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac usually found over the joints and between tendons and bones that allows for easy gliding.

The most commonly affected tendons in the shoulder are the four rotator cuff tendons. Rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis are usually caused by a shoulder injury or overuse of the shoulder, such as a job that involves a lot of overhead lifting. With any kind of should injury, the tendons or bursa may become inflamed, meaning there is less space within the joint for the tendons and muscles to move. If the tendon is repeatedly scraped against the shoulder bones, it can gradually weaken and will sometimes tear. This is often referred to as impingement.

Causes: Rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis are usually caused by a shoulder injury or overuse of the shoulder, such as a job that involves a lot of overhead lifting.

Treatments: Resting the shoulder and avoiding activity or positions that cause pain is often the first course of treatment. Your doctor might prescribe a cortisone injection to reduce the inflammation and control the pain, followed by physical therapy.

Instability

Shoulder instability occurs when the head of the upper arm bone, known as the humeral head, is forced out of the shoulder socket. This can range from a slipping or “catching” feeling in your shoulder, to a complete dislocation where the ball comes all the way out of the socket. Once the ligaments, tendons, and muscles around the shoulder become loose or torn, dislocations can occur repeatedly, which can cause pain, unsteadiness and ultimately arthritis.

Causes: It takes significant trauma, such as a fall or being tackled in a football game, to cause a completely dislocated shoulder.

Treatments: Doctors will maneuver the arm bone back into the shoulder socket. Once repaired, you’ll likely wear a sling for a few weeks. For recurring dislocations, shoulder surgery may be required.

Arthritis

Shoulder pain can also result from arthritis. The most common type of arthritis in the shoulder is osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Often people will avoid shoulder movements in an attempt to lessen arthritis pain. This can lead to a tightening or stiffening of the soft tissue parts of the joint, resulting in a painful restriction of motion.

Causes: Osteoarthritis may be related to sports or work injuries and chronic wear and tear. Other types of arthritis can be related to rotator cuff tears, infection, or an inflammation of the joint lining (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis).

Treatments: Lifestyle changes, such as range-of-motion exercises, physical therapy, or rest. Medications such as ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications may also be helpful to calm inflammation and reduce pain. In some cases once conservative measures have failed, the joint may need to be replaced with an artificial joint.

Fracture

Fractures are broken bones. Shoulder fractures commonly involve the clavicle (collarbone), humerus (upper arm bone), and scapula (shoulder blade). Fractures often cause severe pain, swelling, and bruising about the shoulder.

Causes: Shoulder fractures in older patients are often the result of a fall from standing height. In younger patients, shoulder fractures are often caused by a high energy injury, such as a motor vehicle accident or contact sports injury.

Treatments: A simple sling or “figure of 8” strap is worn for three to eight weeks, depending on the patient’s pain. Surgery may also be necessary, which may include placing plates and screws or wires and sutures.

When your shoulder is injured, it can disrupt your normal routine. The orthopedic surgeons at Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center specialize in treating all types of shoulder conditions and injuries. Our physicians are nationally recognized leaders in their surgical field, helping to initiate and design new shoulder treatment techniques and train future surgeons. They also work along each patient and his/her family to tailor each treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcome. This highly-focused and individualized care has resulted in our patients consistently awarding us with the highest level of patient satisfaction scores.

To make an appointment to see one of our Emory shoulder specialists, please call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form.

About Dr. Gottschalk

gottschalk-michaelDr. Michael Gottschalk grew up in Dallas, Texas as the youngest of three boys. He went on to graduate from JJ Pierce High School in the top 10% of his class and as an AP Scholar with Distinction. Dr. Gottschalk received an academic scholarship to attend the Business Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating from UT Austin, he then went to complete medical school at the University of Texas Health Science at San Antonio. Upon completion of medical school, Dr. Gottschalk completed his Orthopaedic Surgery Internship and Residency at Emory University. While in his training, Dr. Gottschalk received multiple accolades and awards for his outstanding research and was elected as a resident leader to the esteemed American Orthopaedic Association.

After the completion of his Orthopaedic Surgical Training, Dr. Gottschalk was selected to the prestigious Emanuel Kaplan Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship at the NYU Hospital For Joint Diseases. He was selected as the Hand and Upper Extremity administrative fellow and served on the resident council for quality and safety. During his training at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, Dr. Gottschalk helped treat work related injuries to the NYPD, NYFD, and hotel trade union.

Dr. Gottschalk and his wife Kim are delighted to be back in Atlanta with their new addition to their family, Reese Gottschalk. When not at work he enjoys spending time with his family and dog, Riley the Rhodesian Ridgeback. His other hobbies include working-out, golf, tennis, and fly-fishing.