If you have developed symptoms of shoulder pain, seeking treatment is important because untreated shoulder pain can greatly impact your quality of life, affecting range of motion, strength, and your ability to manage daily tasks such as working, eating or even sleeping.
At Memorial Hermann Joint Centers, we specialize in working with you to create a treatment plan that can meet your needs and improve your condition. Our team of affiliated physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists and nurses will work with you to find an optimal solution to your shoulder pain issues.
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When to Seek Shoulder Pain Treatment
When experiencing shoulder pain, ask yourself about the level of pain as well as how long you have noticed the signs
Is it simple muscle soreness due to physical activity such as exercise, or have you noticed the symptoms lasting longer than 3 to 5 days?
Do you only feel pain when engaging in a specific activity or movement, such as throwing a ball or lifting your arm in a certain direction?
Does the pain continue even if you rest your arm, treat with ice or treat with an anti-inflammatory pain medication?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” consider speaking to your doctor about your symptoms and pain level.
Shoulder Pain Treatment
Treatment modalities for shoulder pain range from simple rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) to physical therapy and surgical intervention, all depending on the symptoms and underlying cause. For many instances of shoulder pain caused by inflammation, modified physical activity and avoidance of repeat injury can be enough to treat the problem.
For other instances of shoulder pain, such as with muscle or tendon tears or bone breakage, more intensive remedies may be necessary. Topical application of anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce pain due to inflamed muscles, and formal physical therapy can work to improve range of motion and strength. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. This can include minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques as well as shoulder replacement for severe shoulder pain caused by arthritis.
Using anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce shoulder pain. For pain caused by overuse or that does not last longer than five days, taking an over-the-counter medication can help relieve the issue. For more severe pain, topical medications are an effective way to treat the problem without the gastrointestinal side effects that sometimes occur with NSAIDs.
In addition, steroid injections are effective as a highly localized treatment option that provide fewer side effects than oral medications.
Formal physical therapy is often part of treatment for non-surgical and surgical methods for helping with shoulder pain. In addition to exercising with a therapist and at home, some strength training is also encouraged to help develop muscles after pain subsides. Fine-needling and dry-needling are other tactics that can be used to decrease inflammation and to increase the range of motion.
In most cases, surgical treatment for shoulder pain can be done as a one-day procedure or one that does not require much in the way of an external hospital stay. The arthroscopic procedure is minimally invasive, carries significantly fewer risks than traditional surgeries and can offer patients a quicker recovery time. It typically will involve some regional anesthesia.
For shoulder replacement, the procedure is generally more invasive, but advances in technique have led to encouraging signs for long-term recovery.
Recovering After Treatment
Recovery from shoulder pain treatment is largely dependent upon your behavior and routine. Do not try to do too much too quickly. It is vital that you listen to your doctor and to keep in mind that recovery will take time.
Many patients recovering from surgery are in a sling for about three weeks, while physical therapy may start as quickly as within 10 days of surgery. In some cases, normal functioning such as typing, texting, use of hands and eating may return after a few days. It is recommended not to do any heavy lifting, pushing or overhead activity for 6 to 8 weeks. It usually takes three to 4 months for full range of motion to return, but 6 months is generally when patients are cleared for more aggressive activities or exercise.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to recovery from shoulder pain treatment is to take it slowly and to work with your physician, physical therapists and other care providers to stick to your personalized plan.
Treatment for Shoulder Pain at Memorial Hermann
Shoulder pain should not make it difficult to do the things you want or to enjoy your life. If you are currently experiencing shoulder pain symptoms, visit the Memorial Hermann Joint Centers and learn how our treatment options could help. To get started, contact us today or find a joint center location near you.