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Treatment and Prevention of Shoulder Pain

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What is the Anatomy of the Shoulder?

The shoulder joint is a dynamic structure and is made up of one main ball and socket joint as well as 3 minor joints:

This consists of two main bones: the acromion end of the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collarbone).

This is a ball-and-socket joint, allowing a wide range of motion. The surfaces of the bones where the ball and socket meet are covered with smooth, elastic cartilage that absorbs shock and enables smooth movement. Furthermore, as the socket is shallow, it relies on surrounding tissue called labrum to support and hold it in place.

This joint can be found between the scapula (shoulder blade) and the thoracic cage. Unlike traditional joints, it doesn't involve direct bone-to-bone contact but relies on the coordinated action of muscles and connective tissues to guide the scapula's movement.

This is located between the clavicle (collarbone) and the sternum (breast-bone), and it plays an important role in connecting the upper limb to the axial skeleton. With its saddle-shaped articulation, this joint allows for a wide variety of movements while maintaining stability.

In addition to the four aforementioned joints, there are also four main ligaments that play an important role in stabilising them:

Connecting the collarbone (clavicle) to the shoulder blade (scapula), the coracoclavicular ligament serves as a robust tether. Comprising two components, the conoid and trapezoid, the ligament reinforces the acromioclavicular joint, lending crucial stability to shoulder movement.

Arched protectively over the shoulder joint, the coracoacromial ligament forms a shield against excess pressure. Its role is to prevent the upward displacement of the humeral head during arm movements, ensuring the preservation of the joint's structural integrity.

Encircling the glenohumeral joint, these three ligaments – superior, middle, and inferior – contribute significantly to the joint's stability. While the superior ligament restrains excessive external rotation, the middle and inferior ligaments prevent excessive translation of the humeral head, guarding against dislocation.

This is a small yet significant component of the shoulder's anatomy and plays a functional role in supporting smooth movement. It spans the groove of the humerus, securing the tendon of the long head of the biceps muscle. By holding the tendon in place, this ligament minimises friction during arm motion, contributing to the overall efficiency of shoulder movement.

If you notice any of these signs, we recommend reaching out to our specialists at Avant Orthopaedics for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What Treatments Are Available for Shoulder Pain?

Non-Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Pain

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Corticosteroid injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area. This treatment reduces inflammation, and pain, and enhances your range of motion, making them a valuable tool in managing acute or chronic shoulder pain.

high angle male osteopathic therapist checking female patient s scapula scaled e1713757972941

Skilled therapists can personalize exercises to strengthen muscles, enhance flexibility, and improve posture. Through guided movements and therapeutic techniques, individuals gradually regain mobility and functionality. Physical therapy promotes long-term healing by addressing underlying imbalances that contribute to shoulder discomfort

Young Moroccan Girl | Avant OrthopaedicsAssistive devices, ranging from slings to orthotic braces, provide targeted support to the shoulder joint. These aids offload pressure, stabilise the joint, and encourage proper alignment during daily activities. They are also often used in conjunction with other treatments.

Hot and cold therapy uses the power of temperature to alleviate shoulder pain. Cold packs reduce inflammation by constricting blood vessels, while heat packs relax muscles and promote circulation. This simple yet effective approach can ease muscle tension, reduce swelling, and provide temporary pain relief.

Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Pain

Rotator cuff repair is a surgical procedure aimed at repairing a torn or damaged rotator cuff. During the procedure, the surgeon reattaches the torn tendon to the bone using suture anchors. This surgery can help relieve pain, restore shoulder function, and prevent further damage to the shoulder joint.

Shoulder replacement is a surgical procedure that involves replacing the damaged or diseased parts of the shoulder joint with artificial components. There are two main types of shoulder replacement:

  • Total Shoulder Replacement, where both the ball (head of the humerus) and the socket (glenoid) are replaced with prosthetic components.
  • Partial Shoulder Replacement, where only the ball of the shoulder joint is replaced, while the natural socket is retained.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that involves making small incisions and using a tiny camera (arthroscope) to visualise the inside of the shoulder joint. Common procedures that are performed using this technique include:

  • SLAP Repair, which involves repairing a torn labrum at the top of the shoulder socket.
  • Impingement Syndrome Treatment, to help remove or reshape bone and tissue that might be causing shoulder impingement.
  • Labral Repair, to repair or re-attach the labrum, a ring of fibrocartilaginous tissue that surrounds the shoulder socket.

How Can You Reduce the Risk of Shoulder Pain?

Caring for your shoulders goes beyond physical strength; it involves adopting mindful habits that prioritise health and longevity. By adhering to these practical strategies, you can minimise the risk of shoulder pain.

Maintaining good posture, whether you are walking, standing, or sitting, is a key factor in preventing shoulder pain. A general tip for doing so is to keep your shoulders relaxed and aligned with your spine, as well as gently drawing your shoulder blades back and down to promote a neutral spine.

Designing your workspace and daily surroundings with ergonomics in mind can significantly reduce the risk of shoulder pain. You can begin by positioning your computer screen at eye level to prevent straining your neck and shoulders, as well as using a supportive chair with proper back and armrest.

Adopting proper lifting techniques can protect your shoulders from unnecessary strain. When lifting objects, you should start by bending your knees and not the waist, along with positioning your feet shoulder-width apart to create a stable base of support. And finally, keep the object close to your body to engage core muscles instead of straining the shoulders.

Regular stretching and joint mobilization exercises can keep your shoulder joints flexible and reduce the risk of stiffness and pain. Some simple exercises you can perform include gently rolling your shoulders in a circular motion to relieve tension and stretches that target your shoulder muscles as well as help maintain their range of motion.

When Should You Seek Professional Help?

Knowing when to seek professional help for shoulder pain is essential to ensure timely and effective management. If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, we recommend you consult a healthcare provider immediately:

You don’t need to experience all of the following symptoms before reaching out for help, as timely intervention is important in preventing your condition from worsening.

Are You or a Loved One Suffering from Shoulder Pain?

Whether it’s a minor discomfort or a more persistent issue, we at Avant Orthopedics can help identify the cause of the pain and determine the most suitable course of treatment.

 

Book an appointment with us today to receive a personalised consultation.

 

Remember, early intervention can lead to better outcomes and a quicker road to recovery.

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