Arm and shoulder pain have a variety of causes. There are traumatic causes (automobile accidents, sports injuries & falls) and more insidious causes (over-use syndromes). Both however, share several common symptoms which include pain, swelling, changes in mobility and disruption of lifestyle.
Due to the complexity of the structures involved, it is very important to have a thorough examination to determine the exact cause of the pain. Typically, the pain will get worse and spread over time due to neighboring areas trying to compensate for the problem area.
Spinal problems (subluxations) in the neck and upper back can irritate the nerves that go into the shoulder and arm. Mildly irritated nerves may cause tingling in the shoulder, arm and hand. Severely irritated nerves may cause numbness, burning or weakness in the affected shoulder and arm.
Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
This is very painful. The onset is usually gradual. Like all other joints in the body, the shoulder joint is surrounded by a capsule. The capsule wraps completely around the joint… encapsulating it. When the capsule develops adhesions the motion in the joint will become reduced due to discomfort. In the acute phase, the discomfort ranges from a constant dull ache to pain only with movement. As more adhesions form, the pain becomes more intense, waking them at night if they roll over on that shoulder. Combing or brushing their hair becomes impossible due to the pain. These people automatically start reducing the amount of movement on their own which leads to disuse atrophy. This type of problem needs to be evaluated and treated immediately.
Can be caused by both work and play, if you overuse or repetitively stress your body’s joints, you may eventually develop a painful inflammation called bursitis. Most people are unaware that they have over 150 bursae in their body. These small, fluid filled sacs lubricate and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons and muscles near your joints. They help your joints move with ease. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed. When swelling or inflammation occurs, movement or pressure is painful. Bursitis often affects the joints in your shoulders, elbows or hips. But you can also have bursitis by your knee, heel and the base of your big toe. Bursitis pain usually goes away within a few weeks or so with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are very common.
Rotator Cuff Problems
Your rotator cuff consists of several muscles and tendons in your shoulder. Four major muscles subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor and their tendons connect your upper arm bone (humerus) with your shoulder blade. They also help hold the ball of your upper arm bone firmly in your shoulder socket, as if holding a golf ball on a tee. This combination results in the greatest range of motion of any joint in your body. Rotator cuff injuries are fairly common. Causes of the injury may include falling, lifting and repetitive arm activities, especially those done overhead (painting or wall-papering ceilings). Other activities may include throwing a baseball, reaching up to work on a car on a rack or placing items on shelves above your head. The injury is also common among people whose jobs or hobbies include heavy demands on their shoulders, such as athletes, archers and people in the construction trades. Poor posture, especially as related to your shoulders hunched forward, also can contribute to rotator cuff injury. Obesity can cause this also. As you get older, your risk of a rotator cuff injury increases.
Tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon — any one of the thick fibrous cords that attach muscles to bone. The condition, which causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint, is most common around your shoulders, elbows and knees. But tendonitis can also occur in your hips, heels and wrists. Some common names for tendonitis are tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, swimmer’s shoulder and jumper’s knee.
I have successfully treated many individuals in the Greater Cincinnati area that have had arm and shoulder pain. Most of these people at the completion of treatment are amazed how much better they feel and disappointed that they did not get the proper treatment to begin with.