Shoulder Pain Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

A man after he sought shoulder pain treatment

Ray S. – South Rockwood, MI
Actual Patient

My life is so much better, so much more enjoyable.” – Ray S.

Shoulder pain gets in the way of a wide range of activities, from doing housework to mowing the lawn to picking up your child. A lot of shoulder pain symptoms originate from conditions like arthritis or bursitis or from torn and strained rotator cuffs. For some symptoms of shoulder pain, pinched nerve roots in the upper spine are actually behind the pain, tingling, and numbness.

Shoulder pain treatment should manage pain at the source. Pain specialists at the Heilman Center for Pain and Spine Care can determine whether you’re experiencing pinched nerve shoulder pain that originates in your neck or pain in your shoulder joint. After finding the primary cause of your pain, our pain specialists will draw on years of experience to recommend comprehensive, high-quality treatment options.

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Common Shoulder Pain Symptoms

Your shoulder pain symptoms tell your doctor a lot about what’s causing your pain. If you’ve been experiencing any of these, especially if the symptoms are intense or have been going on for several months, it’s time to look for answers.

  • Stiffness

Many patients report stiffness that limits the range of motion within their shoulder joint. Without shoulder pain treatment, they struggle to do everyday tasks, like putting away groceries. Athletes may struggle with throwing and hitting because they can’t bring their shoulder through its full range of motion.

  • Pain

Some patients feel pain when they move their shoulders or lift weight-bearing objects. Others may feel pain when throwing a ball, pushing against a surface, or lifting their arms upward. Other patients feel a dull, throbbing ache even when not moving.

  • Numbness and Tingling

With shoulder pain and a pinched nerve, patients often report a “pins and needles” sensation in their shoulders, arms, and hands. The sensation doesn’t change when they move their shoulders because it originates in a different part of the body.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

Effective treatment for shoulder pain depends on pinpointing the cause. Although there are many conditions that contribute to shoulder pain, these are the most common.

  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis or Bursitis

Tendinitis develops when shoulder tendons become inflamed and sore, often from repetitive stress or overuse. Bursitis happens when the fluid-filled sac protecting the shoulder joint becomes inflamed.

  • Arthritis

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause shoulder pain, stiffness, and mobility limitations. Osteoarthritis is caused by the deterioration of joint cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and inflammation.

  • Pinched Nerve Shoulder Pain

Pinched nerves in the neck can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the shoulder joint. Nerve roots extending from the spinal cord to the rest of the body become compressed, usually by herniated disc, osteoporosis fractures, or other conditions that affect the cervical spine.

With shoulder pain and a pinched nerve, patients often report a “pins and needles” sensation in their shoulders, arms, and hands. The sensation doesn’t change when they move their shoulders because it originates in a different part of the body.

Our Shoulder Pain Treatment Options

At the Heilman Center, pain specialists offer both traditional treatments and cutting-edge procedures that can alleviate shoulder pain. Once you have a diagnosis, your pain specialist will put together a personalized shoulder pain treatment plan that may consist of one or more of the following options:

Physical Therapy

An experienced physical therapist can put together a shoulder pain treatment plan designed to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and strengthen muscles surrounding the shoulders. Therapy may include heat and ice, massage, stretching, exercise, or ultrasound.

Interventional Treatments

Many patients find relief from pinched nerve shoulder pain and inflammation by receiving corticosteroid injections. Simple trigger point injections may be given near the shoulder joint or, in the case of a pinched nerve, specially guided injections near certain discs or vertebrae in the upper spine.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Most patients don’t require shoulder surgery. For those who do, modern surgical procedures can correct herniated discs or minor issues with the shoulder joints that conventional treatments can’t fix.  Our pain doctors perform many minimally invasive procedures in our specialty hospital on an outpatient basis without general anesthesia. With short recovery times, these procedures can get you back to work and living your life in a few days or weeks.

Major Surgery

In extreme cases, surgery may be required to stabilize the shoulder joint, repair the rotator cuff or fix a non-healing fracture. In the case of advanced arthritis, partial or complete joint replacement may be recommended. These cases should only be handled by experienced orthopedic surgeons; ask your Pain Specialist for options.

Talk to Our Pain Specialist

Call 734-796-7555 to speak to a Heilman Center patient service representative. Your representative will ask a few questions to learn more about your symptoms, how long they’ve been going on, and make sure your insurance provider will cover treatment. Then, they will schedule you for an appointment with a pain specialist.

If you’re looking for more information about what we offer, simply fill out our online form, and a patient service representative will contact to answer any questions you may have.