Top of Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints of the body, and pain in the top of the shoulder can limit the range of movement in the joint. This can cause a lot of inconvenience to the person. This HealthHearty article explains the causes and treatment of shoulder pain. Take a look at the simple exercises that will help improve your range of motion.
HealthHearty Staff
While almost everyone will have shoulder pain at some time in his/her life, it is more prevalent in the older population. The movements of the shoulder joint are very complex, hence the shoulder is extremely vulnerable to sprains, strains, tears, and inflammation of the capsules, muscles, ligaments, etc. It is, however, observed, that most of the shoulder problems are short-lived, unless they are caused due to arthritis or severe injury. Shoulder pain often radiates into the side of the upper arm into the deltoid muscle, and further down the arm, even into the fingers.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
A number of conditions can give rise to pain in shoulder area.

Soreness of the tendon of the rotator cuff is the most common cause of this pain.

The other common cause is soreness of the subacromial bursa, which is a sac of fluid under the highest part of the shoulder.

Nerve impingement (pinched nerve) in the neck can cause pain in the shoulder. It may start at the top of shoulder, and may radiate down into the arm.

Damage caused to the bones and cartilage due to arthritis is also known to cause pain in the top part of the affected shoulder.

Frozen shoulder is a very common condition. Chronic pain due to stiffened shoulder joint (known as adhesive capsulitis) occurs when the capsule (made of connective tissues) that covers the bones, ligaments, and tendons of the joint swells, thickens, and tightens. This restricts the movement of the joint.

If the pain is accompanied by a tingling sensation, it may be caused due to problems in the neck. This pain is known as referred pain.

Shoulder pain can be caused by various spine and neck problems, or it can be referred from internal organs such as the heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, or gallbladder.
Treating the Pain
The first strategy to treat shoulder pain is active rest. You should move your shoulder, but should not do strenuous activities like lifting heavy objects, playing tennis, etc.

Application of ice is another strategy which helps to relieve the pain. If the pain is unbearable, anti-inflammatory medicine can be taken. Injection of anti-inflammatory steroids is another treatment method, but it is rarely utilized.

If none of the methods work, have yourself examined by your physician. He will be in a better position to treat the condition. The treatment will depend upon the cause. Along with medicines, shoulder exercises may also be prescribed, as they help in the rehabilitation process. The exercises are simple range of motion exercises.
Top of Shoulder Exercises
Before you do any of the exercises, it is recommended you talk to your health care professional to know if you can do these exercises.
Exercises to Improve Range of Motion
To do this exercise, stand up, and bend down to look at the floor. Let your arms dangle straight down. Draw circles in the air with your arms. Initially draw small circles, and then draw bigger circles. This exercise is to be repeated about 5 to 10 times through the day. In case you feel pain, then stop the exercise, and do it some other time.
Rotator Cuff Strengthening Exercise
You will need a rubber tubing to do this exercise. To do this exercise, stand close to a closed door, which has a doorknob. Loop the rubber tubing around the knob. With the hand next to the door, bend your arm at an angle of 90 degree, and grab the loop of the tubing. Now pull the band across your tummy. Try to do this exercise for 1 set of 10 counts. Gradually increase the number of sets, when the shoulder pain decreases.
When the pain decreases, you can start off with the upper extremity strength training exercises. You can try weight-lifting program using weight machines or using free weights. In case none of the treatments works, surgery is the last option, which will have to be used. There are different techniques, which are used to perform shoulder surgery like keyhole techniques, conventional surgery, shoulder joint replacement, etc. More often than not, surgery is necessary when the shoulder pain is caused due to arthritis. However, even after the surgery, physiotherapy and exercises will be required.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
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