Shoulder Pain Diagnosis: Outside, Front and Top of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain Diagnosis

Shoulder pain is a common problem that is experienced particularly at night. The pain level varies on different times – each pain is more disturbing than the previous one. It can start with tendinitis, then bone spurs, small tears in the tendons, until full thickness tears. It can be an outside, front, or top of shoulder pain.

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People who are at risk at having shoulder pain are athletes especially the weight lifters, swimmers, baseball players, volleyball players, and javelin throwers. Any with poor posture may also experience shoulder pain.

The causes of shoulder pain vary but the most common is the overuse of the shoulder muscles. The treatment varies too although they have overlaps and similarities.

To know more about the shoulder pain that each individual feels, the first step is to understand the root problem. Where is the location of the pain? How often the pain is felt? Does it limit your mobility?

Location: Top of shoulder pain

This is the most commonly shoulder pain felt by many. The top of shoulder pain is often caused by the abnormal Acromioclavicular (AC) joint or the AC joint separation. What is it? An AC joint separation is an damage to the ligament that holds the AC joint together at the shoulder top.

Top of the shoulder pain includes distal clavicle osteolysis, AC arthritis, and shoulder separation. It can also be an injury to the trapezius or to the deltoid muscle. The clavicle can also be the source of the top of shoulder pain and can lead to swelling in this area.

Location: Front of shoulder pain

The front of shoulder pain usually has something to do with the biceps tendon. It is the biceps tendon that connects deep inside the shoulder. Problems in this area include the SLAP tears, biceps tears, and biceps tendonitis.

Location: Outside of shoulder pain

When the pain is felt outside the shoulder, it is usually related to a deep muscle ache. It extends down the arms. The outside of shoulder pain is usually caused by a rotator cuff problem such as bursitis, rotator cuff tear, or tendonitis.

Timing: Nightly shoulder pain

When the shoulder pain is felt every night, the problem could be the rotator cuff. There is no clear explanation but people who suffer from this kind of pain won’t be awakened from sleep or experience difficulty in falling asleep because of the pain. Otherwise, the pain felt every night could be a more serious problem.

Timing: Constant shoulder pain

Most people suffer from constant shoulder pain that is felt during daytime and when doing some activities such as throwing or reaching for something. The rotator cuff tendonitis and tears are the ones that are usually painful with constant shoulder pain. The pain is more extreme when the sufferer tries to reach something behind his back or head.

Causes of shoulder pain

The causes and symptoms of shoulder pain are different. Here are the most common causes of shoulder pain:

  • Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder or ‘adhesive capsulitis’ usually leads to the stiffness of the joint. It is felt during daytime and when the sufferer tries to reach for something. It can be bothersome when doing physical activities and the pain level varies. Frozen shoulder can be addressed by treatments such as stretching and physical therapy.

  • Bursitis

Bursitis or rotator cuff tendonitis is the most common diagnosis for patients who suffer shoulder pain.

  • Rotator cuff tear

Rotator cuff tear is a more serious condition of the shoulder pain. It is the separation of the tendons of rotator cuff from the bone. It can be treated by undergoing surgery.

  • Shoulder instability

Shoulder instability can be a developed condition, a traumatic injury, or a loose joint.

  • Shoulder dislocation

This injury happens when the top of the arm bone disconnects from the scapula.

Initial treatments for shoulder pain

If you feel shoulder pain, the initial treatments you can do are the following:

  • Application of cold compress ie. Ice packs for 15 – 20 minutes for 3-4 times per day.
  • In take of aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, or other pain relievers.
  • Correct posture throughout the day.
  • Avoid carrying heavy loads such as heavy bags and equipment.
  • Limiting or stopping the movement of the affected shoulder.

If shoulder pain is disturbing and limits you to do daily tasks for long time, it is recommended to consult a physician to diagnose the root cause of it.

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