Shoulder Pain Treatment in Annapolis, MD

Most people think of the shoulder as a single joint that provides mobility for the arm when in reality it is a complex area composed of multiple joints, muscles, and tendons. In fact, the shoulder is arguably the most complex joint in the body. The shoulder is also the most mobile joint in the body, which is why when an injury occurs, it can seriously impact your range of motion and ability to function. At Annapolis Pain Management, we specialize in developing effective and integrative treatment plans to reduce your shoulder pain fast and effectively.

Shoulder Pain in Annapolis, MD

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

A healthy shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that is cushioned by a layer of cartilage. Typically patients over the age of 40 will have shoulder pain associated with degeneration, the shoulder cartilage becomes damaged or begins to wear away. Younger patients more commonly suffer from overuse injury involving excessive or improper use of the joint leading to irritation to the joint, tendons, and muscles as well as inflammation.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to shoulder pain, including arthritis, inflammation, bursitis, rotator cuff injury, overexertion, and more...

Shoulder Injury

Injury to the shoulder can occur from an accident, fall, overuse, excessive movement, and more. The shoulder joint includes articulations with the humerus, scapula, and clavicle and is made up of numerous muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When just one of these areas suffers trauma or overuse it will quickly affect the other areas, which is why prompt treatment of shoulder injuries is so important.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

The rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder are actually four different muscles that are the primary muscles responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint. When any of these tendons become inflamed it can be referred to as “Tendinitis”. Typically tendinitis will occur from excessive movement/use over a period of time. This can include pushing your body without properly training or warming up for an activity. Symptoms can include swelling, pain, limited motion, and weakness of the joint.

Shoulder Bursitis

This is the most common form of bursitis. There are many bursa in the body, these fluid filled sacs help act as a type of cushion between areas of high friction like bone and tissue in joints. When the bursa collects excessive fluid in it we refer to it as Bursitis. Injuries, overuse, and infections can cause bursitis and can lead to symptoms like pain and swelling that can occur both gradually or suddenly.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

A very painful condition characterized by increased pain when raising the arm or laying on the affected side as well as inflammation and swelling. Essentially it is from tissues in the shoulder becoming pinched under part of the scapula (the acromion) that is located directly over their attachment on the humerus (arm bone). This condition is more common in patients over the age of 50 as degeneration of the shoulder joint can contribute to the onset of this syndrome. Those who play tennis, swimming, baseball and other activities requiring repetitive movements of the arm and shoulder have a higher risk of developing shoulder impingement.

Arthritis in the Shoulder Joint

It is typical to experience some wear in our joints as we age. It is the cumulative effect of both big and small injuries as well as repetitive and overuse activities that when given enough time result in arthritis. Decreased joint space, cartilage wear, inflammation, and decreased healthy fluid lead to a joint not moving properly and therefore arthritis causing pain.

Pinched Shoulder Nerve

Most often a “pinched” nerve at the shoulder is actually one of the nerves that exits out of the cervical spine being compressed by either bone or soft tissue of the shoulder complex. A more well known example of this is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Because of the shoulders proximity to the brachial plexus (nerves exiting from the spine) and the complexity of the shoulder joint we commonly treat patients who are experiencing numbness, tingling, and/or burning of their arm or hand caused from their shoulder complex irritating a nerve exiting from the spine.

Frozen Shoulder

You may have heard this referred to as adhesive capsulitis. A condition characterized by both pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. Overtime range of motion of the shoulder joint will become more and more limited resulting in a “frozen” or immovable joint. This condition can be extremely painful as well as restrictive for a patient and treatment should begin as soon as possible.

Poor Shoulder Posture and Mechanics

Due to the complexity of the shoulder as well as its proximity to the neck and upper back, poor posture as well as improper mechanics of any of these areas can and will affect the other areas. Many patients we see may have originally “just” had a minor shoulder problem that was left untreated and eventually developed into a bigger shoulder problem that is now also affecting the neck and/or the upper back.

Man having shoulder pain problem

FAQs About Shoulder Pain

When should I worry about shoulder pain?

If you are experiencing chest pain along with shoulder and arm pain (possible heart attack), if you have suffered a severe trauma (car accident, possible broken bone etc.) or are experiencing bilateral numbness in the arms, you should go to the ER or at the very least, seek medical attention immediately.

If you have shoulder pain that is not relieved by light stretching and movement, has been persistent for more than one or two days, or pain that keeps recurring, then it is time to take action. The sooner pain or limited mobility is addressed, the better!

How can I tell if I tore my rotator cuff?

Common symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include tenderness, swelling and pain, especially when performing specific movements like lifting or lowering your arm. Popping, clicking or crackling sounds when the shoulder or arm is moved a certain way is another sign your rotator cuff may be injured. Orthopedic testing performed by a knowledgeable provider can help determine if a tear is likely and Imaging (usually MRI) can confirm a rotator cuff tear.

What does arthritis in the shoulder feel like?

Arthritis in the shoulder can present in a multitude of ways. Sometimes it can simply feel like the joint is stiff while others may experience more pain, swelling, hear popping/crunching/clicking, and/or have instability in the joint.

What does bursitis in the shoulder feel like?

Chronic bursitis may not hurt but swelling at the site is very common along with limited range of motion. Tenderness and warmth are other common symptoms while an infected bursitis tends to cause more warmth, pain, and a fever.

Do exercises help frozen shoulder?

There is a lot of argument over this condition and the necessary course of treatment. In our office we follow the line of thinking that yes, exercises to help regain as much motion as possible in the shoulder is beneficial.

Should I work out if my shoulder hurts?

If you are able to distinguish the difference between “good” versus “bad” pain, then yes you should be able to work out and make any necessary modifications as needed. If you are unsure of the cause of your pain and there is a chance it is injured it is best to not “load” the joint and risk further injury.

What Treatments are Available for Shoulder Pain?

The good news about shoulder pain is that it can be treated. Once we determine the root cause of your pain, our shoulder pain specialists will utilize a non-surgical and integrative approach that is tailored to your exact needs and healthcare goals.

This approach will include proven and cutting edge technologies and procedures. We typically will use a wide variety of treatments to address all facets of your pain. This can include medical injections, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, laser therapy, durable medical equipment and more.

Our goal is to reduce pain and inflammation, restore flexibility, improve strength, and promote proper healing. Together, you and the doctor will determine the best treatment option for you.

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