Shoulder pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints for which patients seek medical attention. The shoulder is strong yet delicate, with many soft-tissue structures inside of it that provide support. Because of these various tissues, finding the actual injury within the shoulder can be complex and involve MRIs, X-rays, and ultrasound-guided contrast injections.
You can easily hurt your shoulder via a fall, an accident, overusing it at work, or dislocating it; treatment will be based on the orthopedist’s precise diagnosis. In some cases, a pain-relief shot may help. In other cases, physical therapy may be sufficient. If these fail to help relieve your shoulder pain, shoulder surgery may be necessary.
Ways to Treat an Aching Shoulder
The type of pain – whether sharp or dull – and the point at which the pain occurs in your range of motion can assist your orthopedist in diagnosing the nature of the shoulder injury in order to determine the treatment that might work for you. There are physical tests based on rotating the arm, reaching, pushing, or pulling, and diagnostic scans that will reveal internal issues.
Initially, the doctor may provide a corticosteroid injection and ask you to return in a month to see how the injection medication worked. At that point, if your shoulder responded positively to the injection treatment, the orthopedist may recommend physical therapy to help keep your upper-arm muscles strong and properly supporting your shoulder. If these methods do not help to relieve your shoulder pain, surgery may be the best solution.
Treatment Based on the Type of Shoulder Injury
If you have a rotator cuff injury, your condition may be improved through physical therapy. Alternate ice therapy and heat therapy in 20-minute intervals each to help relieve pain; be sure to protect your skin by wrapping a cloth or towel around the ice or heat source. Your physician may also recommend that you take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the management of pain while your shoulder heals.
If your shoulder pain is caused by arthritis, then the treatment would be NSAIDs and physical therapy. These treatments will help to keep the shoulder from becoming frozen or from favoring it.
Based on the results up to this point, if your condition is improving, your orthopedist will likely decide to have you continue your current system of therapy until you no longer have any shoulder pain. If your shoulder is not responding well to these methods, your orthopedist may order another diagnostic exam to compare to the first one. If the scans show that surgery is warranted, your surgeon will recommend the most least-invasive type of shoulder surgery possible.
Shoulder Doctors in Maryland
If you are in Maryland and are suffering from shoulder pain, there is help near you. Our orthopedic medical team at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder offers a number of convenient office locations across Maryland to best serve our clients.
You can reach us today by calling (410) 296-6232 to set up an appointment, or request an appointment online via our easy-to-use form. Let us help you get back to a more pain-free, active lifestyle once again.