There are a number of injuries and disorders that can affect the shoulder, resulting in pain and reduced function. If you have a shoulder injury or condition that is causing you pain or preventing you from carrying out your normal day-to-day activities, then it could be time to visit a shoulder specialist for an evaluation and treatment recommendations.
The shoulder joint consists of many tendons, ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and bones. There are three main bones that make up the shoulder joint: the humerus (upper arm bone), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the clavicle (collarbone). The strong tissues that provide stability for the shoulder and hold the shoulder bones together are often the most common part of the shoulder to become damaged because they are highly susceptible to injuries due to overuse or from being pulled. If these tissues stretch or tear, the shoulder can become weak, unstable, or dislocated.
Let’s talk about the reasons why you would want to visit a shoulder specialist for your shoulder pain and who you can talk to about your own situation.
When Should I See a Shoulder Specialist?
Because some conditions can get worse over time, prompt treatment by a shoulder specialist is recommended if you have had any of the following:
- Shoulder pain that has lasted for longer than a few weeks and is not getting better
- Shoulder pain that is not relieved by home treatments, such as over-the-counter pain medication or hot/cold therapy
- A formal diagnosis of a shoulder condition, such as a torn rotator cuff
- Difficulty sleeping because of pain from the affected shoulder
- Difficulty with raising your arm over your head or reaching backward
- A catching, snapping, clicking, or popping sound or sensation in the shoulder, particularly when lifting or throwing
- Pain when reaching
- Prior dislocated shoulder (which can make the shoulder unstable and prone to repeated injury)
- Abnormality or deformity in your shoulder or upper arm
Some shoulder problems can result from arthritis, which can cause pain, stiffness, immobility, and swelling in the joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis, because this is the overuse-type of arthritis and can affect both young athletes and active adults.
In osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage in the joint wears away. This causes restricted movement and painful bone-on-bone rubbing. There are effective treatments that work to alleviate the pain and discomfort, and a shoulder specialist will know which treatment would work best for you.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Shoulder Pain
In order to diagnose the cause of your shoulder pain, a shoulder specialist will perform a physical examination, check your symptoms, and review your medical history. Diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, blood analysis, or other tests may also be required so that the physician can determine the proper treatment for your specific needs.
Treatment can vary depending on the type and severity of the problem, and some conditions may require more than one form of treatment. Your shoulder specialist will discuss your treatment options with you and help you select the best option to achieve optimum results. Nonsurgical treatments include activity modification, rest, ice, medication, joint injections, and physical therapy.
Surgery may be recommended if nonsurgical treatments have provided little to no improvement of your symptoms, or if there is significant damage to the shoulder joint. Arthroscopic surgery allows surgeons to view, diagnose, and treat problems inside the shoulder joint in an outpatient procedure.
The procedure requires only small incisions and is guided by a small viewing instrument. It is less invasive, has a decreased risk of infection, and necessitates a shorter recovery period than traditional surgical methods. Often, joint injuries can be fully repaired during arthroscopic surgery.
In severe cases, joint reconstruction surgery may be necessary. This involves replacing the injured or worn-out joint components with prosthetic materials. Even a full shoulder replacement can often be performed as a minimally invasive procedure.
Shoulder Specialist in Farmington Hills, MI
If you need treatment for chronic shoulder pain or a shoulder injury, don’t hesitate to contact Tri County Orthopedics. We will work with you to design a personalized treatment plan, help relieve your pain, and restore your mobility as efficiently and effectively as possible.