While athletic activities result in shoulder injuries, it is surprising how our day-to-day activities can also take a toll on our shoulder strength. Whether it is lifting heavy boxes or throwing a ball at a long distance, one wrong move and you might end up with an injured shoulder.
Similarly, your shoulders are at their most vulnerable when you are weightlifting, swimming, or carrying out any repetitive overhead motion. Regardless of the reason, a shoulder injury can cause severe pain and even halt the freedom of movement. Before we jump to the five most common shoulder injuries and how to treat them, let’s figure out the warning signs of a shoulder injury.
Shoulder Injury – Warning Signs
Even in the most sensitive cases, the pain may not be severe right away. Even if you feel a little discomfort, take it as a red flag.
For any pain that you are experiencing in your shoulder, the answer to these questions will help:
- Can you feel stiffness in your shoulder? Check by rotating your arm in all the regular positions.
- Does it feel like your shoulder has a slide out or popped out of the socket?
- Does your shoulder hurt when you lift objects or carry out daily activities?
If your answer to these questions is ‘yes,’ it is a warning sign, and you must consult your orthopedic physician/surgeon right away. A medical professional can diagnose your shoulder condition better.
5 Common Shoulder Injuries and What to Do About Them
Shoulder injuries involve the tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. In particular, skilled workers, gym enthusiasts, and athletes are susceptible to a shoulder injury involving joint pain or blade pain. Due to intensive, repetitive routines, should pain can develop and become severe over time.
Here are the most common shoulder injuries:
1. Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff comprises a group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint. It helps maintain the position of the upper arm bone within the shallow shoulder socket.
Rotator cuff tears occur when overhead motions are performed repeatedly during sports or work. Age factor can also lead to rotator cuff injuries.
To self-diagnose if the shoulder pain is associated with a rotator cuff injury, pay attention to the pain you experience. Rotator cuff tear can be a dull ache that turns severe if the overhead movement is repeated. The pain originates deep in the shoulder.
Depending on the severity of the problem, you can find both surgical and nonsurgical treatments to cure the pain.
2. Shoulder Instability (Dislocation)
Your shoulder is one of the most flexible and mobile joints in the body. This makes it susceptible to instability. A dislocated shoulder can also lead to Bankart lesion or labral tears.
Besides the pain in the neck and arm, shoulder dislocation may also cause tingling, numbness, or weakness near the injured area. It is easy to identify shoulder instability due to the obvious out-of-place shoulder visibility, inability to move, and intense pain.
Treatment options may include immobilization, closed reduction, rehabilitation, medication, or surgery.
3. Shoulder Osteoarthritis
Shoulder arthritis occurs when the articular cartilage (over bone covering) wears down with time. It is often experienced by aging individuals and is also referred to as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. Over time, the cartilage becomes rough and frayed and eventually wears away.
As a result, the protective space between the bones that enable easy movement also decreases. As the bones rub against each other, it causes pain in the joints.
Shoulder arthritis can be aggravated by constant movement and activities. The most prominent symptom is the constant pain and limitation of motion range. Also, the clicking and painful grinding of the bones also become obvious.
A professional orthopedic may initially treat shoulder arthritis with nonsurgical treatment methods but can also recommend surgical options if there’s a need.
4. Frozen Shoulder
Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is a common issue often characterized by pain and stiffness in your shoulder joint. If left untreated, the symptoms can worsen over time and need longer treatment procedures to resolve the issue.
Frozen shoulder has three different stages and can last up to months as the development of the injury is slow. These stages are:
- Freezing stage: limits the shoulder’s motion range and cause mild pain with any movement.
- Frozen stage: while there’s a significant reduction in the pain, the shoulder becomes stiffer than before. The range of motion further diminishes
- Thawing stage: Thawing can happen without treatment. This is when there’s an improvement in the range of motion and reduction in pain.
As far as the treatment is concerned, the goal is to regain maximum shoulder movement without causing further pain.
5. SLAP Tear
The term SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. In a SLAP tear injury, the superior labrum part is affected. The top part of the labrum is attached with the biceps tendon in both the back and the front. That’s where the SLAP tear occurs.
SLAP tear is most common with weightlifters and athletes who perform an overhead throw, such as tennis and baseball players.
The symptoms can be tricky to identify but include a limitation on the range of motions, and feeling of locking, popping, grinding, and pain during movement and lifting.
The common treatment options include physical therapy and medication. In worse cases, surgical treatments can be recommended.
The best way to prevent painful shoulder injuries is to pay attention to the symptoms and detect early. While you can indulge in shoulder strengthening routines and exercises, it is best to consult your doctor before putting further stress on your injured shoulder.
For treatment, make sure you know all your options before you take the right decision. Let a professional help you with that!