Shoulder Pain: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects
Last Updated: Nov 09, 2021
What are the symptoms of Shoulder Pain?
Shoulder pain is a health problem that commonly occurs in a person. It is accompanied by several symptoms which are such as:
- Pain, referred to as catching pain, occurs in the shoulder joint and affects the back as well as the front of the shoulder and also the upper arm.
- Difficulty in shoulder movement.
- Weak shoulder.
- Presence of pain which feels like a tingling and burning sensation.
- Shoulder dislocation leads to a lack of movement in the shoulders.
Why do shoulder pain?
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.
What causes shoulder pain?
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:
How long does shoulder pain last?
The time for which shoulder pain lasts 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.
- 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.
- Shoulder pain resulting from serious issues such as fractures, rotator cuff tear, dislocation and others may require surgical treatment and pain may last for a few months too.
- It is important to consult a doctor if the pain persists or increases even after the treatment.
Can pain in shoulder be heart related?
If you have pain in your left shoulder which is followed by other symptoms like discomfort in the chest towards centre position and shortness of breath, then it could be a sign of heart problems.
Can shoulder pain go away on its own?
Yes, shoulder pain goes away on its own depending upon the degree of injury received.
- For minor injuries like strain or sprain, it takes about a week’s time for the pain to go away.
- If you have mild shoulder pain it will go away in a few days.
Mild cases of shoulder pain, accompanied by general and mild symptoms, can get resolved gradually with time. Some changes and adjustments to our activities as well as lifestyle can effectively minimize the symptoms and aid in leading normal pain-free movements. Application of over-the-counter medicines such as NSAIDs and performing light exercises including basic and mild stretches and warm-up exercises may also work well in this case.
However, if the symptoms persist for a longer duration and in severe cases of injury, consultation with a doctor is necessary in order to avoid unnecessary complications.
How to diagnose shoulder pain?
How to treat shoulder pain?
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. The doctor might recommend taking rest and avoiding any strenuous physical activity that involves movement of the 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 inflammation. Applying hot and cold packs on the affected area gives temporary relief from pain. In some cases, the doctor may advise 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, 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.
Who is eligible for the treatment?
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.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
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.
What pressure point relieves shoulder pain?
Shoulder pain is mostly caused due to stress and can lead to what is commonly referred to as tension headaches. There are many pressure points which can be used to provide relief from shoulder pain, and one of the most commonly used points is:-
“The first and easiest to find is between the web of the thumb and the first finger,”.
- Push by firm pressure till you feel mild ache.
- Hold for five seconds.
- Release and repeat three more times.
How to relieve shoulder pain?
Shoulder pain is a common joint condition that can affect anyone. The condition can result from daily activities and may involve muscles, tissues, shoulder blade, and nerves. The pain can be mild or excruciating depending on the severity of the underlying damage.
There are a few measures that you can follow at home to relieve shoulder pain:
- Pain Relief Medication: You can ask your physician to prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen to get relief from shoulder pain.
- Apply Heat: Taking a hot shower or applying a hot compress on the affected region of the shoulder can ease the pain.
- Apply cold compression: A cold compress can reduce pain and prevent swelling in the shoulder region. However, ensure that you wrap the cold pack in a towel or a soft cloth before applying on the shoulder.
- Epsom salt bath: Bathing with warm water mixed with Epsom salt can also soothe the shoulder pain.
- Massage the affected region gently: Gently massaging or kneading the affected area of the shoulder is an effective way of easing the shoulder pain.
Is heat or cold better for shoulder pain?
Both heat and ice is helpful for shoulder pain but in some instances:-
- If the pain in the shoulder is due to injury then a cold pack is better to apply as ice decreases the pain by constricting the blood vessels which results in reduction of swelling. You need to apply the ice pack for 30-40 minutes after every 4-5 hour.
- If the pain in the shoulder is due to tense or tight shoulders then you should apply a heat pack. Heat relaxes muscles and increases the blood flow to the injured part and speeds up the healing process.
Are there any side effects?
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.
When should I worry about shoulder pain?
- We need to worry about the pain when shoulder pain is caused due to arthritis or osteoarthritis, the treatment is slightly different.
- For such patients, 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.
- If your shoulder pain is caused due to injury which is accompanied by swelling.
- If the shoulder pain is accompanied with breathing from and uncomforting in chest because this may be a early sign of heart attack.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
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
- Practising exercises that helps in improving shoulder mobility and flexibility
- Using braces
- Slings and supports that helps in keeping the shoulder in position and facilitates faster recovery.
How to prevent shoulder pain?
Practising simple shoulder exercises can help prevent injury in the shoulder region. The exercises help stretch and strengthen the muscles. Similarly, performing simple range-of-motion exercises every day can help you prevent a frozen shoulder.
A physiotherapist can help you with these exercises. People who have has shoulder injury before should apply a cold pack after exercising for at least 15 minutes to prevent injuries in the future.
Should I go to urgent care for Shoulder Pain?
Shoulder pain when results from a sudden injury, needs immediate or urgent medical care. Pain is severe in such cases and seeks consultation with a doctor. Such cases arise from traumatic fall or injury and mostly include the following conditions:
- Severe shoulder pain which is progressive in nature.
- Movement of the upper arm becomes much more difficult.
- Severe pain at the site of injury.
- Dislocation in shoulders or elbow.
- Presence of swelling as well as bruising around the shoulder.
- Presence of any deformity in the shoulder.
How long does it take to recover?
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.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
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.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
The treatment methods of shoulder pain usually involve physiotherapy, self exercising techniques, medications, home remedies, self-care, and surgery. The results of the treatment depend upon the type of treatment. In the case of treatment with physiotherapy, self-care, and physical exercises, the results that we get are usually not permanent, however, it can get controlled with these methods and techniques.
As long as we follow these methods, the symptoms of shoulder pain will remain controlled, but not completely cured. On the other hand, in severe cases of shoulder pain, the surgical method needs to be followed and the result of treatment is permanent and hence complete cure is possible in this case.
How to help shoulder pain?
There are certain measures that you consider to help ease your shoulder pain:
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
- Opt for heat or cold therapy
- Correct posture
- Limit pressure on the affected shoulder joint
- Take rest
- Perform a few simple range-of-motion exercises
- Consider complementary treatments like acupuncture
What is the best exercise for shoulder pain?
Practising simple shoulder exercises can help prevent injury in the shoulder region:-
- The exercises help stretch and strengthen the muscles.
- Similarly, performing simple range-of-motion exercises every day can help you prevent a frozen shoulder.
- Practising exercises that helps in improving shoulder mobility and flexibility like.
- Neck Release:-
- Put your chin down in the direction of your chest.
- Try to tilt your head towards left and right direction alternately to stretch your both the shoulders.
- Practice each side for 3-4 minutes.
- Shoulder Circles:-
- Keep your left hand on the back of a chair.
- Move your right hand freely.
- Do the same steps with the opposite hand.
- Seated Twist:-
- Take a sitting position keeping your ankles under your knees.
- Move your upper body towards right followed by your left hand on thigh.
- Try to hold the position for few seconds.
- Do the same steps with the opposite hand.
Physical Exercises for people suffering from Shoulder Pain:
Shoulder pain is a common problem nowadays but is a serious concern when associated with severe pain. Exercises have always been linked to good health, hence the control and management of such conditions may be done by following some physical exercises on a regular basis. These exercises are based on the concept of relaxation and release of tension in the shoulders when tightness is felt over there.
Starting with 10 minutes of exercises daily with a frequency of three to six times a day, the duration should be increased slowly as per flexibility. Some of the exercises commonly preferred include:
- Across the chest stretch.
- Exercises related to neck and chest.
- Exercises for proper movement and stretching of shoulders.
- Yoga stretches as well as poses including child pose and dog pose.
- Thread the needle.
What to eat in Shoulder Pain?
It is always important for us to know about the food items which are beneficial in the conditions of shoulder pain by reducing the inflammation. Some examples are:
What not to eat in Shoulder Pain?
Food has always been proven to be linked with any health issues. Likewise, it is also connected with shoulder pain and affects it in positive as well as negative ways. Some of the food items which contain certain triggering factors of inflammation, can make the condition of shoulder pain worse and include the following:
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
The basic treatment methods usually involve physiotherapy, medications, surgery, and self-care. However, there may be some alternative methods for the management of shoulder pain which mainly include the following:
- Trigger point therapy - It includes massage therapy.
- Stretching forms of exercises.
- Corrective measures.
- A combination of massage therapy and corrective measures.
- Acupuncture therapy.
- Magnet therapy.
- Chiropractic care.
Summary: Shoulder pain is a common problem nowadays but is a serious concern when associated with severe pain. It needs immediate or urgent medical care when it results from an injury. . Application of over-the-counter medicines such as NSAIDS and performing light exercises including basic and mild stretches work well in this case. Some changes to diet and lifestyle also facilitate recovery from the condition.
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