Chronic Shoulder Pain
Chronic shoulder pain can be caused by any number of reasons.
It is a common problem that prompts more than four million people each year in the United States alone to seek some type of medical treatment.
The shoulder area is comprised of three different bones including a ball and socket joint, as well as the scapula or shoulder blade, the clavicle or collar bone, and also the humerus or upper arm bone.
The shoulder is actually the joint with the most movement capacity, which inevitably causes it to become susceptible to injuries.
Also, since the ball that sits within the socket is actually larger than the socket itself, it regularly relies upon a network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons for stability.
Some of the most common reasons for chronic shoulder pain include:
Arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Dislocation of the shoulder
Fractures within the upper arm or collarbone areas
Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), a condition in which the area becomes immovable
Pinched nerve, also known as radiculopathy
Strains often from overexertion or overuse
Tendonitis, usually caused by overuse
Impingement syndrome – where the rotator cuff tendon becomes impinged.
Pain in the shoulder may be localized, meaning the bulk of the pain is directly in the top of the shoulder area, or it may radiate down the arm, and also up and around the neck area.
Diagnosing Chronic Shoulder Pain
Chronic shoulder pain may be accurately diagnosed beginning with the patient's medical history and using a number of medical procedures and tests including the following:
Two tests fall under this category and include an EMG, or electromyography, and an NCV, or nerve conduction velocity, and may be needed for diagnosing shoulder pain coupled with numbness and tingling.
Magnetic resonance imaging may be used to diagnose chronic shoulder pain that occurs due to nerve related injuries and conditions.
A myelography or CT scan may be used for cases when an MRI wouldn't produce the best results, but this is less commonly used than an MRI.
Ordinary x-rays may help to determine the origin of chronic shoulder pain, particularly in those with arthritis and fractures.
Living with Chronic Shoulder Pain
Living with any type of chronic pain can be extremely trying.
With the proper medical care, including medication or physical therapy if necessary, along with protecting the area to avoid further injury, it can be possible to manage.
The proper treatment for managing chronic shoulder pain will largely depend on the root of the problem as well as the patient's overall health, and may include any or all of the following:
Exercise: Certain strengthening and range-of-motion exercises may help relieve some types of shoulder pain.
Physical Therapy: Therapy done by a certified physical therapist may be needed for shoulder pain, especially pain following trauma to the shoulder joint.
Joint Replacement: In the most severe of cases, a complete shoulder joint replacement may be in order to relieve chronic pain.
Medication: Over-the-counter medications as well as prescription pain medication along with cortisone injections may be helpful for reducing chronic shoulder pain.
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