Orthopedic Institute Blog

Shoulder Pain Relief: What You Need To Know

Posted on April 02, 2018

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The shoulder joint is one of the most complex areas in your body. It allows you to move your arms 360 degrees, and also provides the stability needed for all the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments in your shoulders and arms to work together.  All this range of motion increases the likelihood of shoulder pain and mobility issues, especially as we age.  

Check out these top causes of shoulder pain, and what you need to know to start feeling better.

Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Shoulder osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage that lines the sides of the shoulder joint is worn or torn away. It's seen most often in people over age 50, but can occur in younger people as a result of injury or trauma. It's time to see a doctor if you're experiencing:

  • Shoulder weakness or stiffness that seems to come and go  
  • Pain with activity that gets better with rest  
  • Decreased shoulder movement (range of motion) - especially when reaching back 
  • Difficulty sleeping as the condition worsens


Rotator Cuff Tears

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within your shoulder socket. Rotator cuff tears occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports - but can occur as a result of a single injury. It's time to see a doctor if you're experiencing: 

  • Pain and/or weakness when lifting your arm
  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder
  • Pain or weakness when lifting and lowering your arm

Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)

This condition is just how it sounds - "frozen shoulder" causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder muscles and joints that make it difficult or impossible to move. This condition can last for years and develops in three stages: 

  • "Freezing" - In this stage you slowly have more and more pain. As the pain worsens, your shoulder loses range of motion. Freezing typically lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months.
  • "Frozen" - In this stage painful symptoms may actually improve, but stiffness remains. During the 4 to 6 months of the "frozen" stage, daily activities may be very difficult.
  • "Thawing" - shoulder motion slowly improves during this stage. Complete return to normal or close to normal strength and motion typically takes from 6 months to 2 years.

Chronic Shoulder Instability

Have you ever dislocated your shoulder? Chronic shoulder instability occurs when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, usually as a result of a sudden injury or from overuse. Once a shoulder has dislocated the chances of it happening again increase - and can be the reason for repeated dislocations. It's time to see a doctor if you're experiencing: 

  • Pain caused by shoulder injury
  • Repeated shoulder dislocations
  • Repeated instances of the shoulder giving out
  • A persistent sensation of the shoulder feeling loose, slipping in and out of the joint, or just "hanging there"

Wondering what you can do to help relieve shoulder pain right now? Here are
5 tips for feeling better, fast

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