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Common Shoulder Issues and Treatments

Your shoulder is a design marvel. It’s incredibly flexible and can move upward, downward, and in a big circle, enabling you to lift, carry, throw, push, and more. That said, this flexibility is a double-edged sword because it makes your shoulder more vulnerable to injury, and around 8 million people visit the doctor for shoulder pain each year. 

Dr. Apurva Dalal and the Tri-State Orthopaedics team have never encountered a shoulder problem they haven’t treated with great thought, state-of-the-art tools, and your best, pain-free interests in mind. Versed in helping patients with sports, overuse, and age-related injuries, we approach your pain with the needed combination of clinical expertise and compassion.

Shoulder problems: Which one describes yours?

The top causes of shoulder pain are typically due to either an unexpected injury or an overuse issue, where your shoulder experiences wear and tear from performing the same tasks countless times. We see and treat these problems frequently:

1. Rotator cuff tears 

This cluster of four muscles in your shoulder is key in enabling you to move your shoulder freely in so many different ways. Repetitive movements often cause the muscle and tendon damage associated with this condition, like when you do physical work or play a sport often.

You can experience a partial or total tear, and in addition to shoulder pain, you can have shoulder weakness, hear a popping noise when you move your arm, and you might not be able to lift your arm as you would normally.

2. Frozen shoulder

This problem can happen if you ignore a rotator cuff tear. Defined by pain and stiffness, a frozen shoulder can also be related to long periods of immobility caused by surgery or a stroke, and certain chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

True to its name, there are actually three phases of this problem: your shoulder freezing, being frozen, and thawing, where mobility returns, but this can take years on its own.

3. Arthritis

Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis strike many people. But they are very different diseases. Osteoarthritis is degenerative and goes along with aging, while rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune condition, where your immune system becomes confused and causes damage to your joint, rather than protecting it.

4. Shoulder tendonitis

Inflammation, which can range in severity, is the result of this condition. Your rotator cuff, biceps tendon, or both can be involved. Playing baseball or racket sports that demand that you lift your arm high repeatedly put you at greater risk. 

Shoulder tendonitis stops you from being able to perform simple tasks that require you to raise your arm over or behind your head, like pulling up a zipper or retrieving a book from a high shelf.

5. Shoulder impingement

This is another problem caused by rotator cuff inflammation. Your rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm bone with your shoulder. The top of your shoulder is called the acromion, and your rotator cuff sits directly below it. 

When the space between the two is narrowed due to inflammation, your rotator cuff can catch or rub repeatedly and uncomfortably against your acromion, resulting in pain and limited movement. Shoulder impingement pain can worsen at night, too.

6. Shoulder instability or dislocation

Shoulder instability is diagnosed if your shoulder joint loosens and moves around excessively in your socket, and overuse or injury can cause it. Worse, if it isn’t treated, you can move from this condition into arthritis. This reality is complicated by the fact that instability is sometimes not even painful.

Instability can also lead to dislocation, when your bone exits your socket. There’s no confusion with dislocation; it’s very painful, you’re not able to move your shoulder, you can see the dislocation, and the condition requires immediate medical attention. 

Treatments for shoulder conditions

Dr. Dalal offers a wide range of shoulder pain treatments, from the RICE approach (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to physical therapy, safe pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory medications. He’s also highly skilled at performing both arthroscopic and open surgery if he decides that’s the best course.

But before embarking on any treatment, Dr. Dalal studies the history of your condition closely, orders imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI, and brings your lifestyle, general health, and age into devising your treatment plan. 

Seek care for your shoulder pain today

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Dalal so you can get back to a pain-free, movement-filled life ASAP. Call either of our offices or request a time slot online through our website. Both of our locations are open, and we’re enacting full COVID-19 safety precautions. Telehealth appointments are available as well.

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