Physical Therapy for Upper Arm Pain
Your shoulder performs various movements daily and bears a lot of weight. Unsurprisingly, many people experience shoulder pain at one point in their lives. Shoulder injuries can lower the quality of your life and hinder your everyday tasks. That’s why you should seek treatment as early as possible. There are a wide variety of treatments for shoulder pain, and physical therapy is probably the most effective option.
Today we’ll discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for shoulder pain.
Anatomy and Function of the Shoulder
Your shoulder performs a wide range of functions and movements. Firstly, it connects your upper arms to your torso. Additionally, its flexibility allows you to move your arm in all directions.
It comprises dozens of muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. The three bones that connect in the shoulder include:
- Humerus – Upper arm bone
- Clavicle – Collarbone
- Scapula – The shoulder blade
What Causes Shoulder Pain?
As with other joint injuries, shoulder pain occurs due to overuse, instability, arthritis, and impingement. Chronic issues can also contribute to sudden shoulder pain and soreness. These include:
Your shoulder joint has fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that add lubrication to prevent friction when you move your arm. Bursitis occurs when your bursae become inflamed.
Bursitis is characterized by skin redness, pain, and swelling.
Tendonitis is essentially the inflammation of tendons. Symptoms of tendonitis often include tenderness, swelling, and pain.
✔️Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
The rotator cuff keeps your upper arm firmly attached to the shallow socket of the shoulder joint. These muscles also aid in movement. Rotator cuff injuries often increase with age. Usually, rotator cuff injuries are characterized by a dull ache that worsens at night and rest.
Other common causes of shoulder pain include:
- Torn cartilage
- Tendon rupture
- Frozen shoulder
How to Manage Shoulder Pain at Home
If your shoulder pain is not hindering your everyday tasks, you can manage it at home. To start with, you can take painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and simple painkillers like paracetamol to relieve the pain.
Heat or cold therapy might also work for a minor injury. Cold therapy is particularly effective for a swollen shoulder. Place ice on the injured shoulder for no more than 20 minutes. Heat therapy can help you manage almost all types of shoulder injuries. You can buy reusable heat pads from a chemist or sports shop. Alternatively, use a hot water bottle or wheat bag for less than 20 minutes.
Changing your posture can also prevent your shoulder problems from worsening. So, always sit upright and relax your shoulders to relieve tension.
You can also perform daily tasks differently to protect your shoulder joint. For instance, keep your upper body upright when vacuuming. Moreover, avoid carrying heavy and bulky items.
When Should You See a Doctor for Shoulder Pain
In most cases, shoulder pain tends to resolve on its own. However, seeing a certified doctor is highly advisable if your shoulder pain hinders your day-to-day life or if you feel a sudden and continuous shoulder pain.
It’s also advisable to visit a shoulder pain doctor if:
- You feel unwell
- You experience pain in your thighs
- You develop sudden and severe pain in both shoulders
- You notice a deformity on your shoulders
How is Shoulder Pain Diagnosed?
Each shoulder pain is unique. As a result, your doctor must make a diagnosis to identify the specific cause of your shoulder problems.
To do that, your doctor who does physical therapy will check your medical history. You will also answer some questions to give your doctor a clear insight into the pattern of your symptoms.
After that, you will perform various movements to help your doctor determine how the injury affects your everyday life. Other advanced tests such as x-rays, blood tests, ultrasound, MRI, and nerve conduction studies might also be required to give a clearer picture.
Treatment Options for Shoulder Pain
If your shoulder pain fails to resolve on its own, you will have to seek other alternatives. The most common treatment options for shoulder pain include physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery. Steroid injections can help ease pain and inflammation. However, steroid injections don’t necessarily address the specific cause of your shoulder pain. Also, you can only get two or three injections into your shoulder.
Surgery should only be considered for severe shoulder injuries. Your surgeon might perform a keyhole surgery or a conventional open surgery depending on the severity of your injury. Keyhole surgeries require small incisions and are ideal for repairing muscle tears or releasing tension.
Traditional open surgeries require large incisions and are suitable for repairing large muscle tears or for shoulder replacements. Physical therapy is the most effective treatment for almost all showing problems. It not only reduces the pain but can also prevent re-injury. In addition, physical therapy will restore your full range of movement.
Related: Physical Therapy Exercises for Shoulder Pain
Why Physical Therapy is the Best Treatment for Shoulder Pain?
Nearly all shoulder issues will benefit from physical therapy. It’s a branch of medicine that uses non-invasive techniques to reduce shoulder pain. Doctors who do physical therapy strive to improve the quality of your life by using various therapeutic technics such as stretching exercises, patient education, manual treatments, and massage.
Unlike other treatments for shoulder pain, physical therapy focuses on an individual. Our doctors only recommend modalities based on your specific symptoms and objectives. Your therapist might also recommend the following at-home exercises depending on your shoulder injury:
- Arm across the chest
- External torso rotation
- Shoulder U’s
Get the Highest-Quality Treatment for Shoulder Pain at La Clínica
Shoulder pain can impact your life negatively. It’s not only uncomfortable, but it can also lower the quality of your life. Fortunately, our team at La Clínica is ready to help you overcome your shoulder pain as quickly as possible. Contact our therapists today to schedule an appointment or to find a location near you.