Top Causes of Shoulder Pain

Your shoulder joints are the most mobile joints in your body, enabling your arms to move up and down, move frontward and backward, and cross over both sides of your body. But that degree of flexibility and mobility comes with a cost. 

The shoulder joint itself has to be shallow to accommodate the wide variety of movements you make. The joint needs muscles, ligaments, and tendons to keep it in place and functioning optimally. Any one of these structures or a combination of more than one can degrade or be injured, causing shoulder pain that limits your movements and curtails your lifestyle.

Our prestigious, board-certified team of rheumatologists at Rheumatology Center of New Jersey specialize in soft-tissue injuries and joint pain. At our four New Jersey locations, they’re fully equipped to diagnose and treat the exact source of your shoulder pain

Following are some of the most common reasons you can’t move your shoulder without pain or stiffness anymore:

You tore your rotator cuff

The rotator cuff protects your shoulder joint and keeps the ball part of the joint that connects to your humerus (upper arm) in its socket. Your rotator cuff is made up of four muscles: 

Each muscle has tendons that attach them to the bones in your joint, while ligaments attach the bones to one another. The rotator cuff is also lined with a capsular ligament and contains a cuff of cartilage that cushions the ball of the humerus, preventing it from rubbing against the socket. 

You can tear any component of your rotator cuff if you make a sudden, impactful movement such as swinging a racquet or throwing a ball. You might also tear your rotator cuff through repetitive movements, such as painting or lifting your arm overhead. Even a fall on your shoulder can tear your rotator cuff.

Most cases of rotator cuff tears heal with medication and physical therapy. If you’ve torn your cuff badly, you may need surgery.

You have arthritis  

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes painful swelling and inflammation in your joints. Osteoarthritis is age- and use-related degradation of the protective cartilage that keeps the bones in your joints from rubbing together. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your rheumatologist may recommend:

You may also benefit from physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder.

You have bursitis

Another type of joint pain called bursitis occurs when the fluid-filled sacs called bursae become inflamed. The bursae lie on the outside of your joints, protecting them from impact. You can develop bursitis from overusing your joint or as a complication of arthritis or other conditions.

Infections can also cause bursitis. Treatment depends on the cause, but may include antibiotics to treat an infection, joint injections, or surgery.

You’ve dislocated your shoulder

Throwing a ball, falling on your shoulder, or stopping a fall with your hand can all cause the ball of your shoulder joint to slip out of its socket. If you have a dislocated shoulder, your doctor manually inserts it back into its proper position. 

You may need to immobilize your shoulder with a sling while it heals. Depending on other injuries you may have sustained, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), icing the shoulder for 20 minutes every four hours for three to four days, and physical therapy may be sufficient therapy.

You have a frozen shoulder

If you can’t move your shoulder at all, you may have developed a condition known as frozen shoulder. In frozen shoulder, the capsule of tissue that surrounds your rotator cuff becomes inflamed and swollen, which limits the motion of the tissues in your joint. If you have a frozen shoulder, you can’t move your arm much, if at all, and nobody else can move it, either.

Most cases of frozen shoulder resolve on their own over a period of months to years. But you can accelerate healing with NSAIDs, steroid injections, and a therapy called hydrodilatation, which helps expand and stretch the inflamed joint capsule.

Heal your shoulder pain and get back to your normal activities by contacting us today. Call the office nearest you today.

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