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What Does Your Chronic Shoulder Pain Mean?
Treatment options are available to help patients find relief from recurring shoulder pain
I’ve had recurring shoulder pain that’s especially irritating when I reach for something on a top shelf and when putting on my shirt. What treatments could help?
“Your symptoms suggest a rotator cuff impingement. If that’s what you have, then medical treatment should offer you relief,” says Eileen Wu, M.D., a board-certified Orthopedics surgeon at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Without proper treatment, the problem could persist for years with persistent pain, decreased range of motion and muscle weakness.”
Dr. Wu says this type of injury includes any irritation, damage or tear in one of four tendons that help stabilize the shoulder joint. “Such injuries can be caused by trauma such as a fall, but more often by repetitive arm activities – especially those done overhead – such as throwing a baseball or playing tennis, racquetball or golf,” she says.
“Rotator-cuff problems can also be caused by doing household chores such as painting or placing items on an overhead shelf.”
After an evaluation of the shoulder joint, Dr. Wu prefers to start conservatively, while explaining available treatment options.
“Nonsurgical options such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and steroid injections usually help relieve symptoms. However, if a patient doesn’t improve through conservative measures, options also include minimally invasive surgery and, if necessary, open surgery with small incisions,” advises Dr. Wu, whose clinical expertise also includes elbow surgery and Sports Medicine.