Even before your feet hit the floor in the morning, you probably use your shoulders. When your alarm clock (or phone alarm) activates, your shoulder lifts up your hand to grab it. After that, you use your shoulders to help you sit up and get out of bed. Since you use your hands to make breakfast and eat, your shoulders are involved there as well. Chances are, anytime you grab, push, reach, or pull with your hands, your shoulder is putting in some work. So if your shoulder hurts, you’re likely to feel it with any of these kinds of movements. If you experience shoulder pain often, it’s easy to wonder if your shoulder pain is permanent. To understand that, let’s examine the structure of the shoulder joint to understand how it works. Afterward, we’ll observe potential causes of shoulder pain. Finally, we’ll explore what you can do to make your shoulder feel better. OrthoSouth has multiple locations in the Memphis metropolitan area to help you with all your shoulder pain needs.
Structure of the Shoulder
Your shoulder consists of numerous muscles, bones, and joints. All of these components contribute to helping your shoulder perform its job. The three bones that comprise the shoulder joint are:
- Humerus (bone of upper arm)
- Scapula (shoulder blade)
- Clavicle (collarbone)
The two most significant joints in the shoulder are the acromioclavicular joint and the glenohumeral joint. You can find the acromioclavicular where the uppermost part of the clavicle (called the “acromion”) connects to the clavicle. On the other hand, the glenohumeral joint is an example of a “ball and socket joint.” At the top of the humerus, a head (or ball) connects inside a socket (glenoid). Because the glenoid is located inside the scapula, the glenohumeral joint permits an array of movements. To protect the glenohumeral joint, a layer of cartilage permits the ball and socket stress-free movement.
Is It Pain, Injury, Or Both?
Remember that pain itself is not indicative of injury. Periodically, muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints might all give the sensation of pain. But don’t automatically assume that you’re injured just because you feel pain. Many different things can cause aches and pains. For example, consider the following lifestyle factors:
- What you eat, how often you eat, what times of day you have meals
- Kinds of liquids you consume, how much water you drink
- Mental well-being
- Shoulder pain could be an indicator of too much stress
- The overall strength of your shoulder
These are all variables you can control. If you experience chronic shoulder pain, try adjusting some of these lifestyle factors and see if that helps. Consider the nutrition aspect. Certain kinds of foods (like refined carbohydrates and fried foods) can increase inflammation. If you experience inflammation or pain in your shoulder, inventory your nutritional choices. Substitute less optimal foods for less inflammatory ones (fish, vegetables, fruits). Furthermore, barbell exercises like the overhead press will strengthen the shoulder, even in cases of pain and injury.
Types of Shoulder Injuries
Pain does not always mean that an injury has occurred. Notwithstanding, injuries hurt. An injury happens when you damage tissue. Shoulder injuries include things like:
- Sprains: when ligaments stretch too far and tear
- Tendonitis: happens when a tendon swells
- Dislocations: the ball of the glenohumeral joint pops out of the socket
- Rotator cuff tears: abrasion of the muscles that hold the glenohumeral joint in place
While these are not the only examples of shoulder injuries, they represent some of the most common ones. Because the shoulder is so complex, it can be easy to injure. Always consult your doctor before exerting or beginning any new exercise regimen.
How Long Will My Pain Last?
Chronic shoulder pain (the kind that never seems to go away) can feel debilitating. It seems like no matter what you do, you’re always feeling it. It hurts to sit still, and it hurts to lie down. Moving it aggravates the pain, as does holding it still. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cut-and-dry answer to how long shoulder pain will last. The best answer a blog can give you is: it depends.
If you haven’t injured your shoulder, then the pain you’re experiencing can likely be mitigated without medical intervention. Try something like the RICE method:
- Rest: give your shoulder a break from movement, lifting, and strain
- Ice: apply ice or a cold pack to the affected area
- Compression: put consistent pressure on the affected area
- Elevation: keep your shoulder and arm up
You should be able to accomplish most of these steps from the comfort of your home. Furthermore, the RICE method is quite cost-effective. Should that not work, you might opt for a hot bath with some Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). For some people, ice baths may work better at reducing inflammation and decreasing body soreness.
Speak with your doctor about recovering from a shoulder injury. Your doctor might find that medical intervention is necessary. If you’re currently recovering from an injury and are experiencing pain, follow your treatment protocol. Dialogue with your doctor about whether or not they expect your pain to be permanent.
OrthoSouth Has Your Shoulders Covered
Ready to take better care of your shoulders? Schedule an appointment at OrthoSouth today!