Your complete guide to know about shoulder pain and how to deal with it

About the Shoulder

The anatomy of the shoulder makes it the largest joint in the body. It has a ball and socket structure and is formed when the humerus fits into the scapula. There are many other important bones involved like:

1. Humerus (the upper arm bone)

2. Acromion (roof of the shoulder)

3. Clavicle (the collarbone)

4. Scapula (the shoulder blade)

5. Coracoid Process (a bony knob of the Scapula)

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Shoulder Joints

There are 4 main joints that constitute a shoulder:

1. Glenohumeral Joint (primary shoulder joint)

2. Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint

3. Sternoclavicular Joint

4. Scapulothoracic

 

Other important structures that are a part of the shoulder are:

1. Rotator Cuff - which is a collection of muscles and tendons. This gives the shoulder a wide range of motion.

2. Bursa - Sac of fluid that extends protection to the tendons through cushioning.

3. Labrum - A cup-shaped ligament that fits the head of the Humerus.

4. Articular Cartilage - Covers the ends of the bones at every joint.

5. Deltoid Muscle - Largest muscle of the shoulder that helps to lift the arm.

6. Nerves - 3 main nerves called the radial nerve, the ulnar nerve, and the median nerve carries the signals from the brain to the shoulder muscles that help to move the arm.

 

Parts of the Shoulder that are Prone to Injuries

The shoulder is a complex body part with an extensive structure and multiple parts involved that make it operational. But there are a few parts that are extremely susceptible to injuries:

1. Scapula - shoulder blade that is prone to dislocation

2. Glenohumeral Joint - prone to tear due to sudden jerks

3. Rotator Cuff - prone to tendon tears

 

Types of Shoulder Injuries

Being an extensively used body part, there are a lot of injury types that the shoulder can be involved in:

1. Rotator Cuff Tear - One of the most common shoulder injuries in which the tissues that connect the muscle to the bone (tendons) get torn. Common symptoms include pain and weakness in the shoulder.

2. Instability - A condition that is one step prior to dislocation where the shoulder joint is loose and the shoulder is prone to slide about in the socket.

3. Tendonitis - Inflammation injury to the shoulders’ tendons caused by recurring microtrauma to the rotator cuff.

4. Arthritis - Inflammation of one or more joints of the shoulder that causes pain and stiffness. Commonly occurs in seniors due to natural wear and tear.

5. Dislocation - Type of shoulder injury in which the upper arm bone comes out of the socket of the shoulder blade due to sudden trauma to the shoulder such as serious accidents.

6. Bursitis - This is the inflammation of the bursa sac that helps to lower the friction in your shoulder spaces.

7. Frozen Shoulder - Condition which causes extreme stiffness in the shoulder joint. This develops on its own due to lifestyle issues and gradually worsens.

8. Impingement - A complex condition in which the shoulder rotator cuff tendons are intermittently trapped when the shoulder moves.

9. Labral Tear: An accident or sudden movement that causes a tear in the Labrum. They often heal themselves with extensive care.

 

Major Causes of Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries can occur due to many intrinsic and extrinsic factors as follows:

1. Sudden and overzealous movements of the arm and shoulder

2. Immobilization of the shoulder joints/muscles for prolonged periods

3. Shoulder issues like Arthritis that tend to occur naturally due to old age

4. Extreme repetitive movements of the shoulder area. Constant extension of the arm above the head

5. Extensive activities like swimming and weightlifting

6. Depression, poor and improper sleeping postures, and stress

7. Local injuries due to accidents

 

Common Sports Shoulder Injuries

There are a lot of shoulder injuries that can occur due to popular sports:

1. Bicep Tendonitis: Athletics and any sport with extreme repetitive movements.

2. Thrower’s Shoulder/Rugby Shoulder: Throwing sports like Rugby, Cricket, and Handball.

3. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis: Common in players of Cricket, Swimming, and Tennis.

 

Shoulder Injuries Due to Age

Age is a leading factor that contributes towards some serious shoulder injuries as the body becomes weak and muscles/bones become prone to injuries. Here are some of the most common ones:

1. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis or Rupture

2. Subacromial Impingement

3. Frozen Shoulder

4. Acromioclavicular Joint Osteoarthritis

 

Symptoms, Treatment, and Management of Shoulder Injuries

1. What are the key symptoms of serious shoulder injuries?

Major Shoulder injuries are accompanied by some of the following symptoms:

1. Pain in the shoulder area

2. Difficulty in raising the arm overhead

3. Weakness of the shoulder area

4. Restricted shoulder motion

5. Difficulty in reaching the back

6. Swelling in the shoulder area

7. Stiffness in the shoulder area

8. Tenderness in the shoulder area

 

2. How can shoulder pain be treated? What are the best remedies?

Although it is advisable to see the doctor in the case of persistent shoulder pain, here are some effective remedies that you can try:

  • Ice the Shoulder: Ice is a natural remedy against inflammation and if this has been the reason for the pain, it will subside to some extent. 
  • Local Heating: Try heating the shoulder area through a heating pad or some gentle exercises. 
  • Salt Bath: Epsom Salt bath can help to reduce shoulder pain by increasing blood circulation. 
  • Massage: Gently massaging the affected area also reduces the stress and tension. 

If the pain exceeds normal limits and you are not able to handle it under ordinary circumstances, it is advisable that you visit the doctor to seek professional advice. Here are some exercises that can be followed during rehabilitation:

  • Arm-across-chest Stretch - Pull your right arm across your chest by reaching the left elbow. Do the same with your left arm and right elbow. Repeat 3-5 times. 
  • Neck Release - Bring your chin down to your chest until your neck stretches. Lean your head to the left and right. Repeat 3-5 times. 
  • Seated Twist - Sit in a chair and twist your torso to the right by placing your left hand on the outside of the right thigh. Repeat with both sides. 

 

Shoulder Support Equipment

Different types of shoulder equipment are available in the market that provides a varying degree of support to the shoulders:

  • Shoulder Stabilizer: Stabilizes the shoulder and useful primarily during post-injury rehabilitation sully-shoulder-stabilizer

 

          Shoulder Stabilizer

 

  • Shoulder Brace: Provides extended stability and support to the affected area 

         Shoulder Brace

  • Shoulder Cryo/Cuff: Completely covers the shoulder area and is thus useful during advanced conditions like dislocation that require extensive recovery assistance. 

            Shoulder Cuff

  • Shoulder Wrap: Useful in the case when persistent cold therapy is needed to the shoulder. 

             Shoulder Wrap

  • Shoulder Pad: Useful as a precautionary measure for people indulging in contact sports where there are high chances of injuries. 

             Shoulder Pad

  • Clavicle Posture Support: Helps to gently relieve hunched shoulders and improve the posture of the shoulders.

             Clavicle Posture Support

Before buying the shoulder aid, make sure that you understand the level of support that your shoulder needs by contacting your doctor and then choose your support type.

Best Shoulder Supports in India

1. Shoulder Support (Neoprene) - Tynor

This shoulder support from Tynor helps to keep the shoulder joint warm and flexible and aids in fast-tracked healing of the affected area. The material of the support is extremely comfortable to wear since it is made of high-quality neoprene and offers controlled compression. The neoprene bonded nylon fabric provides a better pain-relieving feature. It is available in multiple sizes including regular and special sizes.

Doctor’s Advice: Best for usage in ailing shoulders due to accidental or sports-related injuries. 

 

2. New Elastic Shoulder Immobilizer - Vissco

This new elastic shoulder immobilizer from Vissco is a comfortable wear and a multipurpose product to use. The shoulder strap has been manufactured with a soft material that is user-friendly and fit especially for senior citizens, especially during post-surgical care. This is because minimal hand and shoulder movement is permitted in such situations.

Doctor’s Advice: This elastic product is fit for shoulder dislocation and shoulder pain and works well in case of major injuries. Works best for the elderly. 

 

3. Shoulder Immobilizer - Vissco

The Shoulder Immobilizer from Vissco is perfect for the elderly to be used as a precautionary measure to protect against fractures, arthritis and dislocation of the shoulder joint. It comes with an extensive cushioning effect around the neck area. It has been made from a reliable and comfortable fabric and can be easily worn every day under your normal clothing. It is perfect to provide aid in the case of shoulder prosthesis by providing all-day warmth to the upper part of the shoulder.

Doctor’s Advice: This immobilizer is useful to be used in the case of shoulder dislocation, lesions of the rotator cuff, subcapital fractures, postoperative immobilization, and support during a fractured clavicle.

 

4. Elastic Shoulder Immobilizer With Arm Support - Kudize

Give your injured shoulder unmatched quality support with Kudize's Elastic Shoulder Immobilizer. Constructed with a breathable fabric it offers great support with extreme comfort. The immobilizer with six-way immobilization helps promote healing while reducing hand fatigue.

Doctor's Advice: This immobilizer provides comfortable support following any shoulder surgery or injury, including shoulder dislocations, subluxations and rotator cuff repair.

5. Universal Shoulder Immobilizer (Universal) - Lifeshield

Fully support your arm and shoulder with LifeShields universal shoulder immobilizer after a post-operative surgery of if you have recently injured your shoulder. It can provide extra support, while helping to minimize movement. It also features a broad hook and a loop panel for easier and greater adjustability.

Doctor's Advice: This shoulder immobilizer features wide and longer shoulder straps crossed at the back that allow for even weight and pressure distribution.

6. Adjustable Shoulder Support Belt - Kudize

This adjustable shoulder support effectively helps to provide warmth and support to the shoulder joint. It offers stability and joint flexibility while supporting shoulder injury. It comes with a unisex stretchable strap and can be worn by both men and women.

Doctor's Advice: This adjustable shoulder support is made with high-quality material and hook-loop closures added durability and allow ease of usage.

7. Adjustable Shoulder Compression Pad - Medtrix

Ideal to provide relief & support to the shoulder in case of a dislocation, separation, sternoclavicular separation, tendinitis, bursitis, impingement syndrome. This Adjustable Shoulder Compression Pad by Medtrix features Velcro closure & thick strap to allow better fit & comfort.

Doctor's Advice: The shoulder pad allows gradual and steady movement of the arm and provides therapeutic warmth as well.

8. Universal Shoulder Immobiliser - Tynor

This shoulder immobiliser is designed to hold your arm effectively against your body. Ideal for use during a shoulder dislocation or shoulder fracture. Mainly used to support fractures of the clavicle bone, this Shoulder Immobiliser is useful for treating shoulder joints where immobilization of the region is indispensable.

Doctor's Advice: It is designed specially to offer perfect immobilization and enhanced comfort.

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