Pain in the shoulder suggests a shoulder injury, which is more common in athletes participating in sports such as swimming, tennis, pitching and weightlifting. The injuries are caused due to the over usage or repetitive motion of the arms.
In addition to pain, shoulder injuries also cause stiffness, restricted movements, difficulty in performing routine activities and popping sensation.
Some of the common shoulder injuries that cause pain and restrict the movement of shoulders, include sprains and strains, dislocations, tendinitis, bursitis, rotator cuff injury, fractures and arthritis.
- Sprains and strains: A sprain is stretching or tearing of ligaments (tissues that connect adjacent bones in a joint). It is a common injury and usually occurs when you fall or suddenly twist. A strain is stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon (tissues that connect muscle to bone). It is common in people participating in sports. Strains are usually caused by twisting or pulling of the tendons.
- Dislocations: A shoulder dislocation is an injury that occurs when the end of the bone is forced out of its position. It is often caused by a fall or direct blow to the joint while playing contact sport.
- Tendinitis: It is an inflammation of a tendon, a tissue that connects muscles to bone. It occurs because of injury or overuse.
- Bursitis: It is an inflammation of a fluid-filled sac called bursa that protects and cushions your joints. Bursitis can be caused by chronic overuse, injury, arthritis, gout or infection.
- Rotator cuff injury: The rotator cuff consists of tendons and muscles that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together. Rotator cuff muscles allow you to move your arm up and down. Rotator cuff injuries often cause a decreased range of motion.
- Fractures: A fracture is a break in the bone that commonly occurs because of injury, such as a fall or a direct blow to the shoulder.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis, characterized by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint.
Early treatment is necessary to prevent serious shoulder injuries. The immediate mode of treatment recommended for shoulder injuries is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce the swelling and pain.
Your doctor may recommend certain exercises to prevent stiffness and improve range of motion and strength. Passive manipulation and massage therapy to improve blood circulation and healing are also administered. Other techniques such as acupuncture, TENS, and ultrasound therapy may additionally be recommended.