Chances are we all either know someone who has shoulder pain or we have it ourselves. There are a number of different things you can do for shoulder pain, but there are so many conflicting things you hear on the internet about what to do. Listed below are the top frequently asked questions we, as physical therapists, get asked the most.
- I don’t remember hurting my shoulder, but it has really been getting more painful over the last few months, why?
- Many shoulder conditions tend to have a gradual onset and may be influenced by a number of different factors. People tend to sit inside more during the winter and fall especially in colder climates and this may lead to a gradual reduction in posture due to muscle weakness and tightness. A sudden increase in activity could also have spurred symptoms if your muscles were not properly conditioned to the new stimulus, this is why athletes train during the offseason to avoid injuries when they go back to their sport. Pain also has a large psychological component so any increase in the amount of stress you are under, lack of sleep, and lack of motivation may contribute to worsening pain.
- Should I get an MRI for my shoulder?
- In most cases an MRI is not necessary to figure out the cause of your pain. Many people, especially over age 45, up to 70% will display abnormal MRI findings but not be experiencing any symptoms. Most shoulder issues will have the same underlying factors causing the problem and therefore an MRI rarely changes the conservative course of treatment. Conservative care is recommended in almost all cases before surgery would be considered and it has been shown that surgical outcomes are improved following a short bout of physical therapy.
- Should I take medication or get surgery for my shoulder pain?
- These are common treatments for shoulder pain unfortunately. By now you probably know about the opioid crisis in our country. About 130 Americans die every day from drug overdoses related to prescription pain medication. That means that in a year’s time, almost as many people in this country will die from opioid addiction as soldiers killed in the entire Vietnam war. Surgery is an amazing tool in the right situation but it should be used as a last resort when it comes to most shoulder pain, even with smaller rotator cuff tears. You should consider surgery only after consertive care has failed.
- What exercises should I do to get rid of my shoulder pain?
- That all depends on the cause of your shoulder pain. This is discovered during a free screen or an initial evaluation at Robbins Rehabilitation West. Some exercises might help and some might make it worse. Most shoulder pain sufferers either have rotator cuff impingement, a labral tear or nerve irritation. Sometimes you can have a combination of these…The point is that it’s difficult to give exercises to help unless we know exactly what is causing the pain because it is often a combination of manual therapy, stretching and exercises that is needed. A complete exam is required so that the exercises actually help with the pain.
- What will happen if I don’t do something to get rid of my shoulder pain?
- The problem will likely get worse. Depending on what is causing your shoulder pain, it may come and go. Sometimes you might be fine for a few weeks or even months, but if you don’t fix the movement faults that are causing your shoulder pain, you will have a hard time getting rid of it for good and it could one day turn into a more serious problem.
Are you looking to learn more about your shoulder pain?
Read this next:
Behavior Modifications for Shoulder Pain
Shoulder Pain Quiz
FAQs About Shoulder Pain