Within the shoulder, four joints, along with tendons, ligaments, and muscles, enable a wide range of motion for your arms. This freedom of mobility, however, can lead to certain problems such as tendonitis, instability, or arthritis, which results in pain.
The orthopedic doctors at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio are experts at diagnosing and treating all types of shoulder pain. Learn more below.
Shoulder tendonitis is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. The rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that power the shoulder, are highly susceptible to tendonitis, especially in athletes and workers whose jobs involve repetitive overhead motions.
When the rotator cuff tendons become irritated and inflamed, it causes pain and stiffness. Most cases of tendonitis can be traced to a wear-and-tear process that develops over a period of years.
Tendonitis may be acute or chronic. Acute tendonitis is triggered by overuse problems such as excessive, repetitive work- or sports-related activities. Chronic tendonitis can occur as a result of degenerative osteoarthritis. Chronic tendonitis can also cause the rotator cuff tendons to tear.
Excessive use of the shoulder can also lead to the inflammation and swelling of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac located between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of your shoulder (acromion). The bursa reduces the friction caused by movement of the shoulder. When it becomes inflamed, this condition is known as bursitis, which often occurs in conjunction with rotator cuff tendonitis.
Sometimes the space between the acromion and rotator cuff can become narrow. If this happens, the acromion can rub against, or compress, the tendon and the bursa when you lift your arm, causing irritation and pain. This condition is known as shoulder impingement.
Another source of shoulder pain is the result of one or more bones within one of the shoulder joints moving out of their normal position, typically due to injury. This can result in dislocation of one of the shoulder joints.
Recurring dislocations, whether partial or complete, cause pain and instability when you raise or move your arm. For example, if you lift your arm over your head, your shoulder may feel as if it is slipping out of place. Learn more about shoulder dislocation and instability.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It typically develops as you age due to wear and tear over time. Arthritis causes joint swelling, pain, and stiffness. Shoulder arthritis also may result from sports- or work-related injuries.
Treatment for arthritis generally involves altering your activities, resting your shoulder, and undergoing physical therapy to help improve shoulder strength and flexibility. Prescribed anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injections may help reduce pain and inflammation. Learn more about shoulder arthritis.
The vast majority of patients with shoulder pain respond to these conservative treatment options. However, certain types of shoulder problems, such as recurring dislocations or some rotator cuff tears may require surgical intervention.
If you sustain an acute shoulder injury or experience intense pain and persistent symptoms, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Call the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at (210) 692-7400 or you can request an appointment online. Our orthopedists can promptly diagnose and treat your condition, relieve your pain, and restore your range of motion.