The shoulder joint is mainly composed of two bones – the scapula and the humerus. The scapula or the shoulder blade has a shallow articular surface called the glenoid cavity which articulates with the head of the humerus. The most common cause of shoulder muscle pain is Rotator cuff tendinitis and shoulder Bursitis. The rotator cuff is composed of four muscles which pass over the shoulder joint. A bursa is a potential space containing fluid and is present in between the acromion and the rotator cuff tendon. Due to various reasons there may be an inflammation of your tendon and bursa. Normally the tendon can slide smoothly between the bony surfaces because of the bursa. Hence in normal conditions it is prevented from getting injured by the adjacent bony surfaces. When your tendon and the bursa get inflamed, the space between the bone and the tendon decreases and this increases the friction between the two structures. Constant friction causes the tendon to get pinched and injured. This is called Impingement syndrome.
With a rotator cuff injury you may complain of pain in the front part of your shoulder and diffuse shoulder muscle pain. The pain may get worse when you life your arm over your head. The pain also tends to worsen by lifting weights and you may have trouble doing your regular work. Usually the pain tends to worsen at night and it may actually wake you up from sleep.
If you have any symptoms suggesting a rotator cuff tear you should see your doctor. He will advice you certain painkiller medications like non steroidal anti inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, naproxen etc. You must rest your shoulder and avoid activities like lifting heavy weights. Local ice application will help relieve pain and decrease the local inflammation. You must see a physiotherapist and learn certain exercises for your shoulder namely shoulder strengthening exercises. This will help you maintain full movement of your joint and prevent it from getting stiff. The most common complication following a rotator cuff tear is a frozen shoulder, as due to pain you are prone to keep your joint stiff and avoid all movements and due to this the ligaments, muscles and joint capsule get stiff and over a period of time you are unable to do any active movements with your shoulder joint. It will be beneficial if you continue the shoulder exercises over a long period of time, as they help to strengthen your shoulder muscles and will prevent recurrent episodes of shoulder muscle pain.
You may have a partial or a complete tear of your tendon. Depending on the degree of tear, you may require surgery in order to suture the torn tendon.
Another important cause of shoulder pain is pain radiating to your shoulder due to problems in your neck. You must remember that the muscles of your shoulder and upper limb are innervated by the nerves arising from your cervical spine. Hence if you suffer from cervical spondylitis etc. you may have pain in your shoulders while actually suffering from a problem in your neck. Your shoulder muscles can go into a spasm due to impingement of the nerve roots and you may complain of severe shoulder muscle pain.
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