Shoulder Pain Shoulder Support Shoulder injuries can occur from impacts while you are exercising, accidentally falling, or even overusing.
Some of the most common shoulder injuries include strains or sprains, rotator cuff tears, shoulder dislocations, or shoulder instability.
If you experience shoulder pain, you should rest and immobilize your shoulder with a brace or sling.
A shoulder brace will help provide extra support to your shoulders and minimize movement while seeking medical advice to begin your recovery.
How does the shoulder work?
Your shoulders each have two joints, making them the most flexible parts of your body.
The main shoulder joint - the glenohumeral joint - is a ball and socket joint. It's so called because the top of the upper arm bone -- the humerus -- is shaped like a ball.
This ball fits into the scapula as a socket, giving your shoulder a wide range of motion.
However, the shoulder socket is very small compared to other ball and socket joints such as the hip.
It is held together and controlled by coverings of muscles, which are held together by strong cords called tendons to the bones.
These muscles and tendons form a sac around the joint and support its movement, but are more prone to dislocation than other joints.
Inside the capsule is the synovial membrane, which produces the fluid that lubricates the joint and keeps the cartilage healthy.
Cartilage helps protect your bones from any impact and sits between the bones of the shoulder joint to prevent them from rubbing against each other.
Above the main shoulder joint, there is a smaller joint where the top of the scapula — the acromion — meets the clavicle.
This is called the acromioclavicular joint.
It helps the larger joint below move through its full range, especially when you're raising your arm, lifting, or throwing.
What is the cause of shoulder pain?
Most shoulder problems only affect a small area and should last for a relatively short period of time.
But sometimes shoulder problems can be part of a wider, long-term condition, such as osteoarthritis or polymyalgia rheumatica.
Shoulder pain and swelling are fairly common in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is less likely to affect your shoulders than other joints, unless you've hurt them in the past.
There are several other possible causes of shoulder pain, such as:
- Inflammation, where your shoulder becomes hot, red, swollen, and painful as a natural reaction to an infection or injury
- Injury to the muscles and tendons around the shoulder
- Muscle tension between the neck and shoulders - this usually depends on your upper back or neck position, and is usually related to how you stand or sit while using a computer or at work
- Inflammation of the bursa – a fluid-filled cushion that usually helps muscles and tendons glide smoothly over the shoulder bone
Damage to bones and cartilage, which can be caused by arthritis.
The pain you feel in your shoulder can also come from problems in other parts of your body, such as your neck.
Neck problems can cause pain in the shoulder blade or upper outer arm. When this happens, it's called referred pain or radiating pain.
If you feel a tingling in your hand or arm, as well as pain in your shoulder, you most likely have a neck problem.
Should I see a doctor?
You can usually treat shoulder pain without seeing a doctor unless you have had a serious injury or have sudden persistent pain.
If after two weeks of treating yourself, your pain doesn't get better, you should see your doctor or physical therapist.
You should also see your doctor as soon as possible if you have:
Severe pain in both shoulders
- you also have pain in your thigh
- Feeling feverish or unwell.
These may be symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica and require prompt treatment.
How are shoulder problems diagnosed?
Every shoulder problem has its own pattern of symptoms that can help your doctor or physical therapist make a diagnosis.
Using or moving your shoulder is painful most of the time, but some can make your shoulder feel stiff.
Your doctor or physical therapist needs to see which movements are the most painful, as this can show where the problem is.
They usually ask how the problem started, how it developed and how it affects your daily activities.
If you can, try writing some notes about when and how the problem started, and what made you feel worse before the appointment.
This will help you get a more accurate diagnosis.
Often, your physical therapist or doctor will recommend the best course of treatment after diagnosing your condition.
However, if they suspect that your problem is caused by arthritis or a more complicated condition, they may send you for further tests.
specific shoulder conditions
Some specific conditions that affect the shoulder include:
- Calcific tendinitis and calcific arthritis
- Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
- polymyalgia rheumatica
- neck pain
- Lung disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- tendon problems
- Shoulder impingement or painful arc syndrome
- subacromial bursitis
- rotator cuff tear
- biceps tendonitis
What are the treatments for shoulder pain?
If your shoulder pain doesn't improve with simple home remedies, your doctor can suggest other alternatives to try:
- occupational therapy
- steroid injection
- shoulder rest
Why use a shoulder brace for shoulder pain?
Anyone recovering from an injury — or desperately trying to avoid it — understands the risks of training or playing.
While many doctors recommend rest and ice as a first treatment for shoulder pain, it's not a long-term treatment for active people. In addition to losing training time, you can also become stiff from prolonged immobilization.
Shoulder braces can be worn to recover from shoulder injuries or to reduce discomfort. They range from ultra-durable slings that greatly limit your range of motion to lightweight neoprene vests that protect your AC joints.
As technology has improved over the years, most shoulder rest materials are lightweight and breathable, and the shoulder straps are easy to adjust.
Shoulder straps can help:
- Speed up the recovery process
- Protect your shoulder from further injury
- Provides pressure, which may boost receptors in the skin to help the brain better understand the position of the shoulders
Shoulder braces can help you at various stages of the recovery process.
After an injury, a shoulder brace can be used to support and protect your shoulder during the healing process. Some braces compress swollen joints and help relieve inflammation. A brace gives your injured muscle a break and virtually eliminates the potential for overuse.
If you have a shoulder injury or shoulder pain, see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Your doctor may recommend a shoulder brace to help support and immobilize your shoulder and arm if you are injured.
If you are recovering from an injury and want to be active in sports and activities, it is important to adequately support your shoulder because it has a higher chance of re-injury.
If you are having difficulty choosing a right shoulder brace, please contact us and our health advocates will find the right option for you: Rotator Cuff Support, Shoulder Arthritis, Shoulder Dislocation, Shoulder Instability, Shoulder Impingement and AC Separation.