When your shoulder starts to hurt, it won’t matter to you that shoulder pain is common, or that many problems are minor or short-term. When you can’t perform simple, daily tasks that you’ve always done, the important moment is now. When shoulder pain turns chronic, it may seem there’s no way out.
Part of this has to do with the complexity of your body, and pain that you perceive may actually originate elsewhere, a condition called referred pain. Disc problems in your neck can create pain that you feel in your shoulder, for example. But there are plenty of conditions and injuries exclusive to your shoulder joints, too.
Because of this wide range of reasons for pain, it’s not easy to know whether your shoulder requires surgery without a deeper understanding.
Common causes of shoulder pain
Traumatic injuries to the shoulder joints that include bone breaks must be diagnosed at the time. This type of injury and its associated pain is acute, meaning it’s sudden and usually has a predictable range of effects on you.
While it may lead to chronic pain — ongoing pain that may or may not have an obvious medical cause — it’s not assured. Chronic pain more often connects with degenerative conditions, such as forms of arthritis, where the components of your shoulder deteriorate. Motion may become limited, it may be painful to move in certain ways, or you may experience constant discomfort or pain regardless of joint movement.
Osteoarthritis is perhaps the most common cause of joint pain anywhere in your body, and it can affect shoulders. Other chronic pain conditions affecting the shoulder include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Frozen shoulder
- Shoulder dislocations
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Cartilage damage
Because of the importance of using your hands and arms for daily life, fully resting your shoulders to aid recovery can be difficult, ensuring that some conditions continue to affect you until more aggressive treatment is necessary.
Coping with shoulder pain
Treating shoulder pain generally follows a conservative path, with simple treatments and pain management methods used first, along with physical therapy to strengthen supporting muscles and increase range of motion. Many injuries can repair themselves with time, so effective pain management can help you function while your body does the necessary healing.
Pain medications typically start with over-the-counter analgesics and anti-inflammatories, and prescription-strength versions may be used when those aren’t enough. Injections of corticosteroids are another common therapy that often proves effective, but since long-term use of these medications may eventually cause harm to the tissue, cortisone shots have limited effectiveness.
Injuries such as rotator cuff tears are treated on a case-by-case basis. The surgical decision may be obvious in the case of severe injuries, while more mild cases may respond first to rest and pain management.
Any time chronic shoulder pain interferes with your daily activities, a visit to Westside Pain Specialists is a good idea. Dr. Nassiri can examine your shoulder and pain history, and he may be able to present pain management options that make it easier for you to function as your body heals. In some cases, this can give you the time needed to avoid surgical options for your shoulder condition.
Call or click today to arrange your personal consultation.