Shoulder pain is not uncommon after experiencing an injury, but what if it arises out of the blue? You ponder about your recent activities, yet none could be linked to the aching you feel. You have not suffered a fall, did not overexert yourself during exercising, and you definitely did not get into a fight. What could the reason be?
The truth is that several conditions may cause shoulder pain that does not stem from traumatic activity. So how can you identify what the issue is and relieve your shoulder? Below, we outline the five common causes of unexpected shoulder pain.
1. Rotator cuff tears
A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. Traumatic movement or repetitive strains may damage these tendons, causing inflammation and degeneration that could lead to the tendons eventually wearing down and tearing. Rotator cuff tears typically result from overusing the shoulder through repetitive activities like tennis, golf, carpentry, and even housework.
The pain from these tears is akin to a throbbing or aching discomfort that is severe enough to interrupt one’s sleep. Anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy can help treat rotator cuff tears. For more severe symptoms, surgery may be a necessary option.
2. Rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis
The same overuse in the previous cause can also be the reason for rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis. Rotator cuff tendonitis is inflammation that occurs when the tendons get irritated or damaged. At the same time, rotator cuff bursitis happens when the bursa (the lining that serves as a cushion between the tendons and bones) suffers from the same issue.
However, both of these conditions are more accurately associated with age-related degenerative changes in the tendons. These naturally-occurring changes predispose the connective tissues to be damaged through everyday activities. As such, while tendonitis and bursitis can be related to physical injuries, it is more often associated with the underlying degenerative process of the tendon. Moreover, if the pain is located in the deltoid area or upper part of the arm, it is usually a sign that the tendons are experiencing strain.
It is best to avoid frequently performing repetitive activities that involve shoulder movement to avoid exacerbating these rotator cuff issues when there is an existing injury. Getting enough rest, applying ice to the affected area, and taking anti-inflammatory medication help treat these conditions. It is also important to strengthen the shoulder muscles so they can keep up with the repetitive load being placed on them.
3. Frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder is a progressively painful condition with loss of range of motion and stiffness and is amongst the most common causes of shoulder pain in many patients. This condition occurs when the lining of the ball socket joint’s shoulder capsule gets inflamed, causing the capsule to tighten and thicken and lead to discomfort. To this day, there is no known cause for frozen shoulder.
Treating frozen shoulder generally entails performing specific exercises to improve the range of motion gently. This can also be achieved by loosening the joint capsule via surgery, but it only applies to a small percentage of patients. Although it is uncommon for a frozen shoulder to develop again in the same shoulder where it initially occurred, it can still arise in the opposite shoulder.
Arthritis is another reason that leads to intense shoulder pain. Arthritis is a degenerative change that occurs due to wear and tear of the shoulder joint. This can result in pain and discomfort in the shoulder. Prior injury may increase the risk of development of arthritis.
5. Calcific tendonitis
Like the frozen shoulder, calcific tendonitis has no identifiable cause and can be rather painful. Calcific tendonitis is a condition wherein calcium depositions accumulate in the muscles or tendons. Anyone can develop this condition, but it is generally more common among people over 30 years old. Treatment involves injections and anti-inflammatory medication, but they may be unnecessary as most cases get resolved over time.
It is recommended for patients with shoulder pain to seek medical attention or pain relief solution in Singapore so that symptoms can be addressed in the early stages. If the pain becomes severe to the point that it disturbs your sleep, it is vital to get it checked out since it may be a severe problem that can benefit from treatment.
At Pain SG, we can effectively manage and treat all pain-related conditions ranging from back pain to heel pain. If you are currently dealing with unexplained shoulder pain, we are here to help! Do not hesitate to consult with our pain management specialists in Singapore today.
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