Dr. Himanshu Gupta's expertise in how to identify and treat shoulder conditions
Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal disorder. Between 7 and 34% of adults experience shoulder pain at any time. People probably don't think about their shoulders much until they suddenly experience pain in one of them. This pain can do simple acts like brushing and drying your hair, reaching behind your back, or grabbing something overhead — it seems like a monumental task. The pain can come on gradually or abruptly, ranging from mild to excruciating.
Shoulders are the joints where the upper-arm bones (humerus), shoulder blades (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle) meet. The humerus fits into the rounded socket of the scapula on each side of the body. Each shoulder is held in place by a group of four muscles and tendons, called a rotator cuff, which covers and protects the humerus and lets us raise and move our arms. Injury to any of these structures may result in inflammation and swelling, resulting in severe pain and loss of movement.
If you experience shoulder pain, it's not always possible to figure out the cause. Most shoulder pains can be treated in one go if the correct cause is identified soon. Sometimes problems in other parts of the body are the source of the pain, which then radiates to your shoulder, called referred pain. This can happen with specific neck problems, including arthritis and disc herniations. Injury by fall or accident is one of the causes, but one may even get damage by overdoing a chore like painting. Frozen shoulder is a common condition that baffles many people as it is a state in which arm movement becomes limited and painful when left untreated. Medical experts and Orthopedic specialist, Dr. Himanshu Gupta of Amicare Hospital have discussed why every shoulder is not a frozen shoulder and how to identify any shoulder conditions.
What are shoulder injuries and their causes?
Common shoulder injuries are dislocation, fracture, cartilage tear, rotator cuff tear, frozen shoulder, impingement, acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) pathology, and bursitis. Other causes of shoulder pain include age-related arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, referred pain from different body organs, heart problems, bone spurs, or calcific tendonitis. Many athletes and physical workers suffer from shoulder joint injuries now and then. It leads to gradual loss of movement, and the joint gets stiffer, eventually stopping moving. Dislocation or fracture can occur if the shoulder is pulled back too hard or rotated too far, so the shoulder ball may pop out of its socket. The arm bone (humerus) or collar bone (clavicle) may break or crack if you fall or take a hard hit. The shoulder will sag, and you may be unable to lift the arm. A group of rotator cuff muscles can damage through overuse or fall.
According to a study, shoulder injuries often occur in people who are very active in sports—because of long hours of practicing, extra stretching, or working out. So, proper rest should be given to the upper arm, hands, and back to avoid injuries. Over-exhausting the body can also cause sore muscles, bones, and joints. To treat such problems, doctors recommend balanced body movement via physiotherapy from a sports specialist. Age-related wear and tears result in the degeneration of the tendon. Initially, the pain occurs in front of the shoulder and travels down the arm. At times it aggravates if you try to sleep on the affected side. Consequently, you may note weakness in your arm and difficulty accomplishing daily tasks like combing your hair. If not treated well, it may lead to shoulder arthritis. For such problems, you should always consult a professional doctor.
Why are all shoulder conditions not just frozen shoulders?
A frozen shoulder is a condition where the shoulder capsule becomes thick and stiff. As a result, moving the arm or shoulder becomes painful and very difficult. It is more commonly seen in women and people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or thyroid disorders. Frozen shoulder is often confused with the rotator cuff and other similar injuries. However, the rotator cuff tear symptoms are different from the frozen shoulder. Rotator cuff patients can lift their shoulders without assistance.
In contrast, with frozen shoulders, patients face difficulty in raising their shoulders by themselves. It is characterized by an aching pain and majorly follows stable immobilization. Both conditions can cause severe limitations of free shoulder movement. However, they both have different treatment options. A proper physical frozen shoulder test is enough to diagnose the disease correctly.
While shoulder pain often gets better with time, this condition should never be left untreated and undiagnosed. Renouncing an injured part unattended is a mistake one should never make. The right care and medication at the proper time could save one from grievous amounts of pain and misery. Through physical enhancement, the body is taught to maintain a certain level of activity involving stretching and balancing body movements. Physical therapy is also recommended for frozen shoulders. Other interventions include NSAID medications, corticosteroid injections, or, in some cases, minimally invasive surgeries like Arthroscopy, which treats the shoulder with small incisions in the most modern way.