Shoulder pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages and lifestyles. It can be acute or chronic, intermittent or constant, and often limits mobility and the quality of life of those who experience it. In this article, we will examine the most common causes of shoulder pain, based on scientific evidence, and explore available treatment options.
The shoulder is a highly mobile and complex joint composed of three main bones: the clavicle, the scapula, and the humerus. This joint is surrounded by muscles, tendons, and ligaments that work together to allow for a wide range of movements. However, this mobility also makes the shoulder vulnerable to a range of issues that can cause pain.
Common Causes of Shoulder Pain
1. 1. Shoulder Tendinitis
Shoulder tendinitis, also known as rotator cuff tendinopathy, is one of the most common causes of pain in this area. It occurs when the tendons connecting the rotator cuff muscles to the arm bone become inflamed or irritated. This can be due to aging, overuse, or injuries.
References: Tempelhof, S., Rupp, S., & Seil, R. (1999). Age-related prevalence of rotator cuff tears in asymptomatic shoulders. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, 8(4), 296-299.
2. Shoulder Bursitis
Shoulder bursitis involves inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the tendons and bones in the shoulder. This inflammation can be caused by injuries, repetitive motions, or underlying medical conditions.
References: Rees, J. D., Wilson, A. M., & Wolman, R. L. (2006). Current concepts in the management of tendon disorders. Rheumatology, 45(5), 508-521.
3. Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries can range from partial tears to complete tears of the tendons in this area. These injuries are often the result of acute trauma or chronic wear and tear due to aging and repetitive use.
References: Yamaguchi, K., Ditsios, K., Middleton, W. D., Hildebolt, C. F., Galatz, L. M., & Teefey, S. A. (2006). The demographic and morphological features of rotator cuff disease. A comparison of asymptomatic and symptomatic shoulders. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, 88(8), 1699-1704.
4. Shoulder Arthritis
Shoulder arthritis is a condition in which the lining of the shoulder joint becomes inflamed. It can result from aging, prior injuries, or underlying medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
References: Sperling, J. W., Cofield, R. H., Schleck, C. D., & Harmsen, W. S. (2004). Total shoulder arthroplasty versus hemiarthroplasty for rheumatoid arthritis of the shoulder: results of 303 consecutive cases. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, 13(4), 368-377.
Treatment of Shoulder Pain
The treatment of shoulder pain depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Treatment options include:
1. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a fundamental part of shoulder pain treatment. Exercises and rehabilitation techniques can strengthen muscles and improve mobility.
References: Kelley, M. J., Shaffer, M. A., Kuhn, J. E., Michener, L. A., Seitz, A. L., & Uhl, T. L. (2013). Shoulder pain and mobility deficits: adhesive capsulitis. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 43(5), A1-A31.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain relievers can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
References: Kothari, M., Guermazi, A., von Ingersleben, G., Miaux, Y., Sieffert, M., Block, J. E., & Stevens, R. D. (2003). Fixed-flexion radiography of the knee provides reproducible joint space width measurements in osteoarthritis. European Radiology, 13(12), 2759-2763.
3. Corticosteroid Injections
Corticosteroid injections can be useful for reducing inflammation and pain in cases of severe tendinitis or bursitis.
References: Cochrane, D. J. (2004). Ankle joint flexibility and running economy. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(2), 274-278.
In severe cases or when other treatment options have not been successful, surgery may be necessary. This may include rotator cuff repair or shoulder joint replacement.
Reference: Yamaguchi, K., Levine, W. N., Marra, G., & Galatz, L. M. (2005). Advances in the treatment of full-thickness rotator cuff tears. Journal