Shoulder pain is usually characterized by a persistent dull and nagging painful sensation that may arise from the shoulder joint itself or from other muscles, ligaments and/or tendon that surrounds the shoulder area. Shoulder pain arising from the shoulder joint itself generally worsens with the movement of the shoulder or upper arm of the person having this symptom.
There are various causes for shoulder pain and the reason may vary from person to person depending upon the physical activities that he/she is involved in. The causes of shoulder pain may be direct as well as indirect. Various diseases and other conditions such as heart problems or gallbladder diseases may indirectly lead to shoulder pain and such a condition is known as referred pain.
Referred shoulder pain generally does not cause much problem during the movement of patient shoulder. On the other hand, direct causes of shoulder pain may be due to one or more major or minor injuries in the shoulder area. Moreover, due to aging, various degenerative changes in different parts of the shoulder can result in shoulder pain.
Some of the major causes that can result in shoulder pain are:
The first step towards the treatment of shoulder pain involves thorough analysis of the patient’s medical history followed by a number of clinical diagnoses which involves imaging study by:
Once the cause of shoulder pain is found out by various clinical diagnoses, the treatment for this condition is initiated under the guidance of an experienced doctor. The treatment for shoulder pain involves various pain relief medications and physiotherapy. Medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be prescribed for controlling the pain. The doctor might recommend taking rest and avoiding any strenuous physical activity that involves movement of shoulder in order to prevent any further injury.
In addition to this, a few exercises may help the patients by improving their shoulder flexibility and mobility. Injecting cortisone into the affected area can help to reduce the inflammation. Applying hot and cold packs on the affected area gives temporary relief from pain. In some cases the doctor may advice for surgical treatment if the medical treatment for this condition is found to fail.
It must be kept in mind that the treatment for shoulder pain varies from person to person depending on the degree of injury or the cause of the pain. Surgical treatment for this condition is not the first option, and hence this treatment is used only if all other medical treatments for this condition fail.
In the case of patients, suffering from shoulder pain due to arthritis or osteoarthritis, the treatment is slightly different. For such patients, the shoulder pain arises due to a damaged shoulder joint. Surgical methods of treatment such as realignment bone surgery and joint replacement surgery are the two best methods that have been proved beneficial for treating such patients. After surgery, the patients are recommended to have rest until the condition heals.
There is no age restriction as far as the treatment for shoulder pain is concerned. Patients of any age who are having a persistent dull and nagging painful sensation in their shoulder area are eligible for this treatment. It is always recommendable for such patients to go for home remedies initially. If such home remedial methods fail to give fruitful results, then the patients can seek medical help from an experienced doctor.
There is no eligibility criteria as such for patients to seek treatment for shoulder pain. Anybody who does not have shoulder pain is not eligible for the treatment of shoulder pain. It should be remembered that shoulder pain may arise both due to injury in the shoulder area as well as a few indirect causes and such a condition is known as 'Referred pain'.
Hence, a proper diagnosis is necessary for an appropriate treatment to begin. Patients having referred pain should be given treatment for the underlying cause that has led to shoulder pain. Such patients of referred shoulder pain are not eligible for treatment of shoulder pain but instead they need to be treated for the underlying cause of the pain.
The treatment for shoulder pain is more or less safe. However, the anti-inflammatory pain killers prescribed during this treatment may bear some side effects. The common side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, bleeding in stomach (ulcers), headache and indigestion. The side effect of stomach upset can be reduced by taking the medicines after meal.
On the other hand, cortisone pills used to treat problems of shoulder pain, have side effects such as weight gain, elevated blood sugar levels, osteoporosis, elevated blood pressure, thinning of skin, cataracts and decreased resistance against infections. It is important to consult a doctor if any of these side effects become serious enough.
It should be remembered that shoulder pain may be due to both direct and indirect causes (also known as referred pain). In case of referred pain, the underlying cause needs to be treated. The post treatment guidelines for shoulder pain include giving rest to the affected shoulder, applying hot and cold packs to the affected area for temporary relief, avoiding strenuous activities that may cause further injury, taking the prescribed medicines regularly on time, physiotherapy, practising exercises that helps in improving shoulder mobility and flexibility and using braces, slings and supports that helps in keeping the shoulder in position and facilitates faster recovery.
The time taken for a patient of shoulder pain to recover depends upon the degree of injury received. For minor injuries like strain or sprain, it takes about a week’s time for the pain to recover. Shoulder pain resulting from serious issues such as fractures, rotator cuff tear, dislocation and others may require surgical treatment and may take a few months to recover. It is important to consult a doctor if the pain persists or increases even after the treatment.
The price of treatment for shoulder pain varies in different parts of India. The average cost of consulting a doctor regarding such issue may range from Rs. 400 to Rs. 700 (per consultation). The costs of medical as well as surgical treatments are additional. In general, the average cost of full treatment for shoulder pain may range from Rs. 4,400 to Rs. 6,500 in India. This treatment is available in almost all cities and towns of India.
Before the treatment for shoulder pain is initiated, it is important that the cause of the pain is properly diagnosed. For some issues of shoulder pain, they can be treated by mere home remedies and rest. However, for others if such home treatments fail to give effective results then the doctor switches to medical and/or surgical treatments if necessary.
Surgical treatment is considered as the ultimate and best treatment for problems of shoulder pain. The permanence of the treatment of shoulder pain depends upon the degree of injury encountered by the patient. If in case no improvements are seen from home remedies or medical treatment, only then the doctor recommends for surgical treatment.
For issues of shoulder pain, surgical treatment is considered as the best treatment. However, there are a number of alternative treatments as well. The alternative treatments for issues of shoulder pain involve applying hot and cold packs, physical therapy, rest, ultrasound/heat treatment, consumption of anti-inflammatory food items, stretching and mild exercises to improve shoulder flexibility and mobility, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and/or acupuncture therapy. These are mere primary treatments for issues of shoulder pain and if the conditions are not seen to improve, then the patient must consult a doctor for further medical or surgical treatments.