Prolonged shoulder pain — and the limited mobility that goes along with it — can cause your quality of life to hit rock bottom. Know you’re not alone though, because approximately 18-16% of people are struggling with shoulder pain at any given time.

Shoulder pain stems from many conditions and affects people from all walks of life. Fortunately, treatments exist that bring relief, but surgical solutions are also necessary sometimes.

Dr. Struan Coleman’s vast experience treating weekend warriors, pro baseball players — and everyone in between — has given him nuanced knowledge about the many factors that go into successfully treating shoulder pain, no matter what its root cause. He and our excellent team provide the most advanced care with a personal touch.

Shoulder pain’s vexing nature

Your shoulder allows you to perform diverse movements, from rotating your arms when you throw a ball to lifting a heavy load. Because of how complex a joint your shoulder is, there are many things that can go wrong with it as a result of overuse, sudden injury, and degeneration over time:

  • Bursitis: When the fluid-filled sac (the bursa) that protects your joint gets inflamed due to repetitive motion
  • Torn shoulder cartilage pain: Often traced to repetitive movement or trauma, your shoulder hurts especially when you reach above you, and it can lock or catch
  • Torn rotator cuff: When the tendons and muscles that stabilize your arm are damaged from wear-and-tear, and pain often worsens at night
  • Shoulder impingement: When your shoulder bones compress your rotator cuff tendons, causing swelling and pain when you lift
  • Frozen shoulder: When tissue bands called adhesions develop in your shoulder joint as a result of underuse and greatly restrict movement
  • Shoulder instability: Stems from your shoulder joint lining, labrum, or ligaments becoming damaged or detached, causing the ball of your shoulder joint to partially or completely leave your socket.
  • Osteoarthritis: Cartilage breakdown causes your bones to rub together, leading to pain and stiffness

If you’re busy and only slightly bothered by the pain, it’s easy to let shoulder problems slide. You might also assume it’ll go away on its own. It may, but what if it doesn’t?

When should I seek care for shoulder pain?

Sudden, severe shoulder injury would cause you to seek medical care immediately, say if you dislocated your shoulder or even had a heart attack, which is often accompanied by shoulder pain. It’s harder to determine when to call the doctor if you have a “garden variety” shoulder injury.

Below are indicators that you should should get professional help with shoulder pain:

  • If shoulder discomfort becomes chronic, meaning lasting six months or longer
  • When at-home treatments haven’t worked, such as rest, icing your shoulder, or taking over-the-counter pain medication
  • When shoulder pain disrupts sleep
  • If mobility limitations prevent you from performing ordinary tasks
  • When you can no longer participate in activities you really enjoy

There’s a point at which many realize they’re far too limited because of their shoulder pain, and that’s when it’s time to call us.

What treatments erase shoulder pain?

When conservative treatments for shoulder pain aren’t successful, Dr. Coleman may recommend a surgical solution. The procedure he suggests depends on your pain’s severity and duration, as well as mobility limitations.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure where Dr. Coleman makes small incisions in your shoulder area and inserts a small fiber-optic camera on a bendable, thin tube into your shoulder area. With it, he can closely assess your shoulder, pinpoint your injury, and make the necessary correction.

This might mean repairing muscle, cartilage (such as the labrum), or tendon tears, or removing scar tissue, damaged tissue, or bone remnants.

The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include faster healing, reduced bleeding, and less pain and scarring. The sophisticated technology allows Dr. Coleman to work with even greater accuracy. Shoulder arthroscopy is especially effective for shoulder impingement, rotator cuff injuries, and shoulder instability.

Some conditions require shoulder replacement surgery, and again, you’re in the best hands with Dr. Coleman. If the deterioration of your scapula and humerus — your shoulder blade and the bone that goes from your shoulder to your elbow respectively — is serious enough, a shoulder repair would be insufficient.

Instead, in this surgery, Dr. Coleman actually replaces the parts of your shoulder with plastic or metal ones. Shoulder replacement is most often appropriate for patients with osteoarthritis.

After shoulder surgery, your arm is typically immobilized to promote healing, or you might wear a compression garment. After some healing occurs, Dr. Coleman prescribes a course of physical therapy to build strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Call one of our three offices to schedule an appointment with Dr. Coleman to address your shoulder pain and get it behind you, or book one online.

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