If you experience shoulder pain, the most important thing is finding relief. In order to do that, it is vital to know exactly what is causing your pain. Shoulder pain can be caused by many things, and requires a thorough examination to discover the cause.

Shoulder Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is inflammation to one or more joints that causes pain and lack of mobility. It is usually caused by wear and tear over time that destroys the cartilage surrounding the bone. As the disease progresses, the cartilage can be completely worn away, leaving behind bone-on-bone arthritis. This type of shoulder arthritis is usually seen in people over the age of 50, and is prevalent in those who perform manual labor. Symptoms include pain and stiffness, as well as reduced range of motion.

Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear occurs when the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint tear away from the bone. This tear can be either partial, where the tendon remains partially attached, or complete, where the tendon is separated completely. Although rotator cuff tears can occur as the result of an accident such as a broken collarbone or dislocation, they most often occur over time, through continuous use. The symptoms are very similar to shoulder arthritis, including decreased range of motion, pain and inflammation. If you have a rotator cuff tear, you may notice popping sounds when moving your arm, and the pain may become worse at night when you are at rest.

Treatment for Arthritis and Torn Rotator Cuff

There are treatment strategies available for both shoulder arthritis and a torn rotator cuff. For arthritis, range of motion exercises can help keep your shoulder mobile. This includes stretching to help limber up the joint. Your doctor may recommend that you limit activities that aggravate the arthritis, and you may find relief with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Cortisone injections can also prove beneficial.

A rotator cuff tear can be treated with steroid injections, anti-inflammatory medications and by resting the arm. This may mean you would need to wear a sling for a certain amount of time. Surgical treatments can also help if the injury is severe.

Proper Diagnosis

Many people suffer through shoulder pain, believing that it is arthritis brought on by age. It is possible that some people actually have a torn rotator cuff, and could experience much more relief with the proper treatment. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, Dr. Steven Struhl and the AC Joint Separation team can help. Call our offices today to schedule a consultation.

Posted on Behalf of Steven Struhl MD