Shoulder Pain: Common Causes And Pain Management
Our shoulders are the silent workers of our body. We don’t often turn our attention to them until pain strikes. While we think shoulder pain doesn’t affect a large population, studies show that it is the third most common musculoskeletal condition and that around 25% of adult population is affected by shoulder pain at some point in their life.
Shoulder pain can make daily activities like wearing your shirt, combing your hair or even lifting an object difficult to do. Therefore, it is essential to nip shoulder pain in the bud and the first step in treating shoulder pain is to figure out what is causing it. Below are some common conditions you may face and tips on how to recover from them.
Frozen Shoulder: Also known as Adhesive Capsulitis, frozen shoulder affects up to 50% of the older population suffering from diabetes and 2 – 10% of those not suffering from it. This conditions mostly affects those in the 40 – 60 age group and affects more women than men. While the cause of this condition isn’t fully known, experts suggest it is caused because of the thickening and stiffening of tissues around the shoulder joint. The symptoms of Frozen Shoulder are usually classified in 3 stages and are said to resolve within a period of 6 months to 2 years.
The ‘freezing’ stage – Lasting for about 6 to 9 months, this stage sees the shoulder becoming stiff. It becomes increasingly painful to move and its range of motion decreases.
The ‘frozen’ stage – In this stage that lasts from 2 to 6 months, while pain may decrease, shoulder stiffness remains as is restricting movement and making the completion of daily tasks difficult.
The ‘thawing’ stage – In this stage, pain continues to lessen and movement becomes easier. Completion of daily activities is possible as the shoulder joint returns to normal strength, function and movement. This takes between 6 months to 2 years.
Shoulder Dislocation: Our shoulders are our body’s most used, mobile joints and this makes them prone to dislocation. This is a condition in which your upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket which is a part of your shoulder blade. The symptoms of shoulder dislocation include a visibly deformed out-of-the place shoulder, intense pain, swelling and restricted movement. It is recommended to seek medical attention right away as soon as you see any symptoms of shoulder dislocation.
Arthritis: Arthritis is the most common cause for shoulder pain. The most common type of arthritis affecting shoulders is osteoarthritis. It happens when the cartilage between the shoulder bones reduces and causes friction. Osteoarthritis develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time. This painful condition is a growing problem in the aging population. It can be treated through physical exercises in the less serious cases but if the condition is severe, surgical options are advised to consider.
Sprain and Strain: When the ligaments in the shoulder overstretch or tear, it leads to sprain in the shoulder, while a shoulder stain happens when some of the fibers in the shoulder muscles or tendons overstretch or tear. This tear can cause acute to chronic pain. Any difficulty in moving your shoulder and severe pain in a specific part are the signs of strain and sprain which can be treated through rest, physical exercises or surgery.
On understanding these common conditions of shoulder pain, below are some exercises you can add to your routine for shoulder pain management.
Make sure to always begin your workout with a warmup. Start with easy exercises and slowly move towards lifting weights.
1. Across the chest stretch: Bring your left arm across your chest. Use your left hand to support your right arm. Keep this position for 1 minute. Gently return to the original position. Repeat it again for 5-6 times with each hand.
2. Neck release: Bend your chin downwards and slowly move your neck to the left side. You will feel a stretch on your right shoulder. Hold the position for 1 minute. Gently return to the initial position and repeat it again on the opposite side.
3. Shoulder circles: Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart and your arms hanging freely at your sides. Move your shoulders forward, then up, and finally back in one gentle motion. Repeat the process for about 10 times.
Another form of treatment called the RICE method, prescribed by many physicians is one of the easiest and most basic ways to treat shoulder pain at home.
Rest: Get proper rest. Avoid moving too much for the first few days.
Ice/ Heat: Applying ice to the affected area can help to lessen the swelling and pain. Use an ice or a heating pad for about 15-20 minutes within every 2 hours as it increases the blood flow and makes your muscles feel relaxed.
Compression: Wrapping your shoulder with elastic medical bandage can help to reduce pain and swelling. Wrap around the bandage, keep it snugly but not too tight, do not block the blood flow. If you feel numb around the affected area, quickly loosen the bandage.
Elevation: Always keep the injured area raised above heart level whenever possible.
For better shoulder pain care, you can also incorporate these tips in your lifestyle.
Maintain good posture: Sitting straight, keeping eye level with the computer screen at work and moving around every once in a while, can be highly beneficial to prevent shoulder pain.
Don’t strain your body: Avoid over exertion and heavy exercises as it causes swelling and pain around the shoulder muscles.
Change your sleeping position: Avoid sleeping on that side of the shoulder where you are experiencing the pain. Try to sleep on your other side or back instead.
If the injury or trauma around your shoulder is severe, you should immediately seek medical assistance. You can also massage your shoulder with an ayurvedic ingredient-based oil if the pain is acute, such as Zandu Ortho Vedic Oil to get better relief. It is made with 5 traditional oils and over a 100 Ayurvedic ingredients and shows significant improvement in pain in the shoulder after 7 days of regular use.