Often hailed as the most mobile joint in the body, your shoulder is a complex structure that includes three bones and numerous tendons and muscles that function as a unit.
Damage to any of these components can cause decreased range of motion and pain that may make it difficult and sometimes impossible to complete your daily activities. After all, everything from brushing your hair to eating a meal to tossing a softball involves your shoulders.
Dr. Andrew B. Weiss is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a busy practice in Beverly Hills, California. Despite his widely recognized and well-earned reputation as a skilled surgeon, Dr. Weiss prefers treating shoulder pain without surgery whenever possible.
Uncovering the reason for your shoulder pain
Your treatment course with Dr. Weiss starts with a thorough physical evaluation, detailed discussion of your symptoms, and further diagnostics that may include X-rays and other imaging studies to uncover the cause of your pain.
Common causes of shoulder pain include:
- Swelling and inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis)
- Partial or full tendon tear
- Breaks or fractures in the bones of the shoulder
Understanding the actions that may have led to your shoulder injury is also important when developing an effective treatment strategy.
You may, for instance, be experiencing the effects of an overuse injury related to work activities, hobbies, or sports. Pitching can irritate tendons and result in rotator cuff tendonitis. The repetitive movements required for painting can also inflame tendons.
Arthritis, on the other hand, causes damage to cartilage and other structures within the joint itself. It may, over time, cause bone to painfully rub against bone any time you move your shoulders.
Treating shoulder pain without surgery
There are some shoulder problems that are best treated with surgery. Damage caused by advanced arthritis, for instance, may require shoulder joint replacement.
However, many shoulder issues are successfully treated with conservative therapies, which include:
Rest and physical therapy
Effective treatment for shoulder pain often involves a temporary and possibly permanent break from the activities causing your pain. Physical therapy may include massage, heat, and exercises designed to restore and maintain flexibility and range of motion in your shoulder.
Importantly, failure to comply with shoulder range of motion exercises during your recovery can cause a painful condition known as frozen shoulder. Your program is designed to keep your shoulder moving without causing further damage to muscles, tendons, and bones.
Medications to decrease inflammation and pain
Oral medication that may include prescription-strength or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories is often helpful since reducing inflammation and the irritation it causes decreases pain.
Steroid medication injected directly into the painful joint space or affected tendon can reduce inflammation and pain.
Regenerative medicine therapies
Regenerative medicine treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy enhance your body’s natural healing abilities. These therapies are becoming increasingly popular as treatments that can help speed your healing and recovery from tendon, muscle, and joint issues related to shoulder pain.
For effective treatment that can relieve your shoulder pain without surgery, schedule an evaluation with Dr. Weiss today.