The shoulder is a very complex joint with numerous structures capable of causing pain. Normal function is essential for many sports and daily activities, dysfunction can greatly effect everyday quality of life. Pain in the shoulder can affect anybody at any time.
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and subject to significant repetitive loads and forces throughout a standard day. However this high degree of mobility comes at a cost, this being that the shoulder is a relatively unstable joint that is more susceptible to injury.
But what do we do if we are experiencing shoulder pain and when do we need to seek medical advice?
Injury or pain in the shoulder may appear gradually due to wear and tear over time, or may result from sudden trauma to the joint. Pain stemming from recent trauma should be examined as soon as possible by an appropriate health practitioner to help avoid any future complications and to reduce the risk of re-injury.
Common traumatic injuries seen in our clinic include shoulder dislocations, muscle strains and tendon tears, and sprains to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.
In the case of a dislocation, the shoulder should be relocated as soon as possible and placed in a sling until further examination is possible. In the case of a joint sprain or muscle strain, ice should be applied and the shoulder immobilised until further assessment is possible.
Pain that is more gradual in its presentation may often result from tendon inflammation, poor movement patterns over a long period of time, or be referred from the neck or upper back. Such injuries are often caused by external factors such as repeated reaching over shoulder height, poor posture, muscle imbalances, work or sporting demands and old age.
Should you experience shoulder pain of this nature, it is important to understand what factors are contributing to the condition so as you can eliminate or correct them and prevent further damage.