Dr. Benjamin Parker is an orthopedic surgeon at AppOrtho and orthopedic medical director for App State Athletics. AppOrtho is the official sports medicine provider for App State Athletics, Watauga High School, and the High Country Soccer Association. Learn more about Dr. Parker >

Many people experience shoulder discomfort or pain at some point in their lives. Why does your shoulder hurt? The shoulder is a complex joint, made up of multiple muscles, tendons, and bones that work together to allow us to perform everyday activities – from playing basketball, to working in the garden.  When just one of these components is disrupted by overuse or injury, the shoulder can become painful. Pain in the shoulder can present itself in many different ways, which can be overwhelming and confusing. Do you need shoulder surgery? Maybe, but there are some non-surgical options to consider first. This article’s purpose is to provide information and possible treatment options for common causes of shoulder pain. If you are suffering from shoulder pain, please contact AppOrtho online or call (828) 386-2663.

Arthritis

As we age, our bodies go through some wear and tear, which can result in an arthritic shoulder. This is a normal process that middle-aged to elderly individuals begin to experience.

Symptoms: Shooting and catching pain that originates in the shoulder and stops at the elbow is a common sign of an arthritic shoulder. Overuse of an arthritic shoulder can cause inflammation to enter the shoulder resulting in stiffness and worsening pain.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, injection, possible arthroscopy or replacement

Subacromial Bursitis

Bursa are fluid filled sacs that reside inside joints all over the body, including the shoulder below a bone called the acromion. These sacs help reduce friction between muscles sliding over bones and can sometimes become inflamed and irritated due to day-to-day use.

Symptoms: The arm may feel weak or painful, especially when it is lifted to the side.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, injection, possible arthroscopy or cleanup

Rotator Cuff Tendons/Muscles

The rotator cuff is made of four main muscles and associated tendons. These muscles and tendons can tear or avulse (pop off the bone) during physical activity or a traumatic event such as a fall. Chronic wear and overuse can also cause a tear.

Symptoms: Stiffness, pain and weakness of the shoulder are common symptoms as well as feeling a ripping or popping sound during the time of the injury.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy injection, possible arthroscopy and repair

Biceps Tenosynovitis

The biceps tendon lies within a groove in the front of your shoulder and sweeps in a “windshield wiper” motion across this groove during day-to-day activities. This repetitive motion can irritate the tendon and cause inflammation in the shoulder.

Symptoms: A biceps tendon problem can be associated with pain in the front part of the shoulder. If rubbing or massaging the front shoulder is sensitive or painful, this might be an indication of biceps tenosynovitis.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, injection, possible tendon reattachment arthroscopically

Treatment options

 

Anti-Inflammatory Medication– Taking a medication such as Naproxen that reduces inflammation just like you would take a vitamin – twice a day with food and water – is a great way to help the body calm down and allow itself to heal, though this may cause stomach issues as a side effect.

Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is a crucial part in recovery of a tendon tear or rupture. In order to regain motion and strength in the shoulder, one must perform exercises specifically tailored for their injury. Regaining strength takes time, and positive results should start after 4-6 weeks of physical therapy.

Injections – A steroid injection done in-office can help reduce inflammation and calm down the injured joint. Usually, these injections can only be performed every 3-4 months in order to avoid any further damage to the joint. Relief can last anywhere from weeks to months.

Arthroscopy – If you have a large or a small injury and it is not getting better with treatment, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery might be an option for treatment and repair.

Replacement – Chronic issues such as arthritis might result in the need for replacement. X-Rays, CT scans or MRI should always be performed before moving to surgery.

Do you have joint and muscle pain?

AppOrtho can help. Schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled providers today.