The structure of the shoulder joint is very complicated. There are 3 different bones, almost 30 muscles, tendons, and a bursal sac. The tendons attach the muscles with the bones and the bursal sac provides lubrication during shoulder movements. All these components provide stability to the joint and enable it to make a wide range of motions. A case of severe shoulder pain is often triggered by traumatic injury or overuse injury or some other kind of underlying health issue.
Shoulder dislocation is the most common form of injury that gives painful symptoms. The shoulder joint has a ball and socket structure. When it gets dislocated, then the ball structure bulges out of the socket and causes damage to the nearby tissues, and severe pain is experienced. Severe shoulder pain at night is mostly caused by rotator cuff injury. The role of the rotator cuff is to facilitate rotation of the arm. The injury could be related to a tear or strain in the muscle due to a strong blow to the shoulder joint or overuse of the muscles. Even the tendons can get inflamed by extensive use and can cause painful tendinitis.
An underlying health problem like arthritis can be responsible for shoulder pain while sleeping. In such cases, the pain arises because of inflammation in the joint. Elderly people tend to get extreme pain in the shoulder, as the soft connective tissues degenerate with aging. Shoulder pain during pregnancy can occur because of a serious issue, like ectopic pregnancy. Here, the pain is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, spotting, etc. Sometimes, it is experienced as a referred pain and is associated with the formation of gallstones. Usually, the pain starts after eating spicy food and is accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
When you visit a doctor with the complaint of severe shoulder pain, x-rays and a MRI scan will be conducted to ascertain the exact cause. The first step of the treatment is to provide adequate rest to the injured shoulder. Any activity involving shoulder movement is going to intensify the pain further and delay the healing process. For this reason, rest is important. It should be accompanied by application of ice pack, which will have a soothing effect on the pain and swelling of the joint.
For an unbearable pain like this, doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines for temporary pain management. If the laboratory test reports show that there is a need to keep the shoulder in an immobile state, then the use of shoulder brace is recommended. Massage therapy is highly beneficial for muscle strain and tendinitis, as it improves blood circulation in the area and ensures faster healing. As the pain subsides, one should start some simple exercises for shoulder pain. This will add strength and flexibility to the muscles and reduce the pain.
If the condition fails to improve with all these conservative methods of treatment, then the surgical option is availed for repairing the damage sustained by the muscles, ligament, or tendons. The surgery should be followed by a proper rehabilitation program. If normal activities are restored without this program, then it may lead to stiffening of the joint and result in recurrence of shoulder pain after surgery.
When the cause is some underlying health problem, then it has to be treated to get rid of the shoulder pain. In case of ectopic pregnancy, the pregnancy has to be aborted safely to save the mother. For gallstones, surgery is avoided during pregnancy and doctors suggest change of diet to manage any gallbladder complications for the time being.
Shoulder injury takes a lot of time to heal. Therefore, the treatment should start as early as possible. Once you have recovered from severe shoulder pain, take extra care so that it does not recur. Eat healthy foods which are rich in protein and carbohydrate content for proper muscle building. Along with the foods, regular shoulder exercises and maintaining of correct body posture are equally important.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.