Shoulder injuries are some of the most common afflictions we see at Countryside Orthopaedics. Yet even though these injuries are common, shoulder injuries can seriously complicate your day-to-day life. For starters, shoulder injuries are so prevalent because your shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in your body, thereby making it susceptible to many types of injuries. And whether your shoulder injury is minor or severe, it is guaranteed to be painful and limit your mobility. After all, it can be challenging to work and do things around the house if you can’t use one of your arms. Below is a list of common shoulder injuries, and possible treatments to consider when caring for them.
With osteoarthritis, the cartilage that cushions your joints starts to break down due to age, injury or wear and tear. Two shoulder joints are at risk of being affected with arthritis: the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, and the glenohumeral joint. Arthritis in your AC joint is more common, typically causing pain to the top of your shoulder blade, whereas arthritis in your glenohumeral joint causes pain to the back of your shoulder blade.
Treatments for Arthritis
Icing your shoulder three times a day for 20-30 minutes is a great way to begin treating arthritis. You should also rest your shoulder as much as possible, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, to help manage pain and inflammation, and consider physical therapy for added care. Your physical therapist will assess your injury, and develop a treatment place specially designed for you.
If your shoulder pain still exists after completing these treatments, then your doctor may recommend having surgery on your shoulder. One type of arthritic shoulder surgery is an arthroscopy, in which the surgeon cleans out the interior of your glenohumeral joint, thereby easing your pain. In particularly severe cases of shoulder arthritis, your surgeon may recommend replacing the joint altogether.
Tendinitis occurs when the tendons that connect the muscles to the bone are stretched or torn, causing severe pain, weakness, and limited movement. The rotator cuff, which contains a complex group of muscles and tendons that surround your upper arm bone, is the shoulder area most often affected by tendinitis. Another commonly affected area is the bicipital tendon, which helps keep your arm in its socket.
If you think you have tendinitis, you should immediately stop whatever activity you’re doing and follow the RICE procedure: rest, ice, compress and elevate the area. If the pain persists after a couple of days, call your doctor.
Treatment for Tendinitis
Your doctor may prescribe an NSAID to reduce pain and swelling. And you may also be urged to start physical therapy, which will treat your tendinitis through strength exercises, electrical stimulation, resistance band training, and more. Tendinitis is different for everyone, and a physical therapist will create a rehabilitation plan according to your unique situation. Surgery is a last resort for treating tendinitis, and should only be considered if you are unresponsive to physical therapy treatment.
Impingement syndrome occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff are strained to the point of swelling. This swelling causes the head of the humerus (the long bone between your elbow joint and shoulder) to move up, which narrows the space in the joint, and impinges the tendons and the muscles. Impingement syndrome is painful and may cause a grinding sensation when you try to move your affected arm.
Treatments for Impingement Syndrome
Much like tendinitis, if you think you have impingement syndrome, it’s important to stop what you’re doing, and follow the RICE procedure. This injury responds particularly well to frequent ice treatments.
Your doctor will likely advise you to rest and may recommend physical therapy. The physical therapist may use electrotherapy to reduce inflammation and give you a soft tissue massage to loosen tight muscles. Additionally, the physical therapist will teach you a variety of stretches and light weight training that you can do at home to help rehabilitate your shoulder.
Dislocation and Subluxation
Dislocating your shoulder happens when the head of your upper arm pulls free of its socket. In subluxation, the ligaments of your shoulder are torn, and the head of your upper arm pulls partially free of the socket. In either case, it is essential to immobilize your shoulder right away and seek medical attention immediately. The doctor will put your shoulder back in the socket, possibly after giving you anesthesia, and later prescribe pain medication. You may be required to wear your arm in a sling for two to three weeks after the injury. Should pain persist, you should see a physical therapist for guided treatment on how to correctly return your shoulder to normal.
The physical therapy services at Countryside Orthopaedics are available to anyone, whether you are an orthopaedic patient of ours or not. We offer a wide range of proven and highly specialized PT techniques to treat a variety of shoulder injuries. We customize your physical therapy and rehabilitation according to your unique situation, needs, and goals. Our highly qualified and caring physical therapy team is committed to working with you to improve your health and well-being. No matter what shoulder injury you incur, we believe in it’s better to be safe than sorry. To find out more about your particular condition and treatment options, make an appointment today with one of our doctors or physician assistants.