Shoulder pain and injury are common. Your shoulder is the most mobile of all your joints. Just think about how much it can actually move.
The reason for this movement is a very small joint contact zone. This essentially means that your shoulder is quite unstable. That is why your shoulder muscles are so vital to a normally functioning shoulder.
In most cases, if you are suffering shoulder pain it is because your muscles are simply not strong enough or they are uncoordinated.
Luckily, both of these dysfunctions can be normalize after a quality assessment and injury-specific exercises.
How common is shoulder pain?
- Shoulder pain is a common problem; it is the third most common cause of seeing a orthopaedic surgeon after back pain and knee pain. 1% of adults with new shoulder pain consult their doctor each year and 16-26% of them report of shoulder pain at a given point of time.
How does the shoulder work?
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. The main shoulder joint(glenohumeral joint) is a ball and socket joint with a large ball on a small socket, hence relies on the tough sleeve covering the joint called the capsule to keep it together(provide stability). There are many muscles around the shoulder, which aid in the stability of the joint, but the most important group of muscles are the rotator cuff muscles which form a cuff(rotator cuff) around the ball and help control movements of the joint. The integrity of the rotator cuff muscles are very important for normal function of the shoulder. Shoulder is an important joint as problems with the shoulder could affect your ability to do your normal tasks like personal hygiene, combing hair, washing and day to day jobs around the house. Although shoulder is thought of as non-weight bearing joint a significant amount of force passes through the shoulder on using the arm for lifting objects. The dependence on the shoulder increases as we get old with painful legs, as walking with a stick would be difficult, hence maintaining good shoulder function is important in the short and long term.
What are the causes of shoulder pain?
Shoulder pain can be caused due to various conditions in the shoulder and non-joint related conditions like heart problems (left shoulder), liver problems(right shoulder) and neck problems can masquerade as shoulder problems, hence a thorough clinical assessment is important to get to the right diagnosis and treatment.
When should I be worried of shoulder pain?
Most of the times shoulder pain can be due to problems with the tissue around the shoulder or the problem with joint per se, but sometimes shoulder pain can be due to serious problems which need immediate attention like, cancers, infection or severe damage to the joint. There are some complaints which need to be taken seriously like, fever, weight loss, mass or swelling around the shoulder and any past history of malignancy (cancers), trauma (Injury) or recent convulsion (fits), and sometimes night pain/constant pain would need urgent assessment by an orthopaedic surgeon trained in shoulder surgery. Any swelling/ Skin color change or change in shoulder contour with loss of rotation in the arm or significant change in sensation or weakness in the arm will need urgent attention.