If you have pain in your shoulder, you first need to identify the cause. It may be in one or both shoulders or may move from one to the other, depending on what you are doing.
If this is the first time you’re seeing a specialist, he will start by asking you lots of questions, in order to determine your history. He needs to know your history to avoid aggravating existing problems; in addition to this, the info that you are sharing with him will also help him diagnose your current pain.
The specialist needs to know if you have had a history of injuries and / or if there have been any recently. He needs to know whether the current pain is mild, severe, acute or chronic and where you actually feel it. How restricted is your movement?
When does it hurt the most or is it all the time? Is it your dominant side? Does it affect your sleep or your work? Sometimes it may even be a bone or muscular problem and it may be referred from your neck or upper back, but you could feel the pain in your shoulder the most.
Once the history is completed, the specialist will feel your shoulder and surrounding areas to see if he can find the problem. If he can, he will treat it and hopefully solve the problem then and there. If not, you may need an X-ray, an ultrasound or an arthrogram, depending on the situation.
Then, he will run a range of tests to work out what is wrong and what is the best method to correct the problem(s). You need to have a full range of motion. Can you rotate your arm in a full circle without experiencing pain? Can you raise it above your head?
Another test is to stretch your arm back so your fingers touch your back and then, using your fingers, slowly “walk” up your back as far as you can comfortably go. Where you stop will indicate to the specialist how serious your problem really is.
The shoulder joint is like a golf ball and tee. The shoulder can easily slip out of the socket, just like a ball can fall off the tee. Your ligaments, tendons and muscles hold your shoulder in the right place. This is one of the most mobile joints in your body.
The main source of shoulder problems is related to age and the speed with which the tissues degenerate as you get older. However, there are many more different reasons for shoulder pain, so it is impossible to cover them all here.
As an example, you may have diseases in your liver, gallbladder, heart or spine, and the pain can travel along your nerves into the shoulder, causing what feels like localized pain. This is why the specialist will start by finding out your complete history when he sees you for the first time; you can’t treat someone without knowing the full picture.
Often times, painkillers and / or anti-inflammatory medication can help alleviate the problem. If the pain is serious and doesn’t settle down after physiotherapy, massage and / or chiropractic treatment, you may need a steroid injection. Of course, if nothing else helps, surgery may be required.
If you feel pain, you MUST see someone about it if it lingers. Pain is a symptom of a bigger problem and if you ignore it, you could face more serious problems down the track.