Arthritis affects numerous people in a variety of ways, including as a source of shoulder pain.
Many different forms of arthritis exist, but they all share a common tendency to cause pain and swelling in joints. In the case of shoulder pain, however, the most common cause is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis people typically imagine when they hear the term. This is the “wear and tear” variety that occurs as joint linings break down and bone starts to rub against bone.
Arthritis can have a slow, lengthy onset – along with pain that increases in severity over time.
Since arthritic joints tend to hurt more with movement, many people respond by moving less. This can lead to a bigger problem, however, as can increase stiffness and tightness in the shoulder joint. Movement becomes even more painful and the cycle continues.
So, although it may seem counterintuitive, one measure for treating shoulder pain from arthritis is a physical therapy program centered around appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises.
Other forms of treatment will depend on the nature of the condition and are prescribed on a patient-by-patient basis. When conservative care isn’t sufficient, we may recommend joint replacement surgery.
A fractured shoulder bone is another common cause of shoulder pain. This injury can affect any of the three bones we identified earlier.
Typically, when younger patients fracture a shoulder bone, the root cause is an acute traumatic injury – such as a sporting injury or from an auto crash. Older patients may also suffer fractures in these ways, but are also more susceptible to fractures from general falls.
Treatment for a shoulder fracture typically depends on the severity of the injury. The body will often perform the heavy lifting of mending broken tissue, but we will take appropriate measures to stabilize the parts so they heal correctly.
For less severe breaks, we may prescribe a basic sling to be worn for anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. With more severe fractures, surgery may be necessary.