Pain in the shoulder suggests a shoulder injury, which is more common in athletes participating in sports such as swimming, tennis, pitching and weightlifting. The injuries are caused due to trauma, over usage or repetitive motion of the arms.
In addition to pain, shoulder injuries also cause stiffness, restricted movements, difficulty in performing routine activities and popping sensation.
Common shoulder injuries that cause pain and restrict the movement of shoulders, include sprains and strains, dislocations, tendinitis, bursitis, rotator cuff injury, fractures and arthritis.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis, characterized by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint.
- Bursitis: Is an inflammation of a fluid-filled sac called bursa that protects and cushions your joints. Bursitis can be caused by chronic overuse, injury, arthritis, gout, or infection.
- Dislocations: A shoulder dislocation is an injury that occurs when the end of the bone is forced out of its position. It is often caused by a fall or direct blow to the joint while playing contact sport
- Fractures: A fracture is a break in the bone that commonly occurs because of injury, such as a fall or a direct blow to the shoulder.
- Rotator cuff injury: The rotator cuff consists of tendons and muscles that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together. Rotator cuff muscles allow you to move your arm up and down. Rotator cuff injuries often cause a decreased range of motion.
- Sprains and strains: A sprain means stretching or tearing of ligaments (tissues that connect adjacent bones in a joint). It is a common injury and usually occurs with falling or a sudden twist. A strain is stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon (tissues that connect muscle to bone). It is common in people participating in sports. Strains are usually caused by twisting or pulling of the tendons.
- Tendinitis: It is an inflammation of a tendon, a tissue that connects muscles to bone. It occurs because of injury or overuse.
Early treatment is necessary to prevent serious shoulder injuries. The immediate mode of treatment recommended for shoulder injuries is rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). The doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce the swelling and pain.
Physical therapy or certain exercises may be recommended to prevent stiffness and improve range of motion and strength. The physician may also recommend passive manipulation and massage therapy to improve blood circulation and healing. Other techniques such as acupuncture, TENS, and ultrasound therapy are frequently used.