Special Health Reports

Healing Shoulder Pain: A troubleshooting guide for common shoulder problems


Healing Shoulder Pain: A troubleshooting guide for common shoulder problems

Up to 70% of people will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives. Shoulder pain can be particularly vexing, because it makes it hard to sleep. But why is the shoulder so troublesome? The answer comes down to the shoulder’s unique structure, the constant demands we place on it throughout the day, and a variety of risk factors. This report will serve as your guide through shoulder repair and recovery and help you communicate more effectively with your doctor as you move through the process.

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Raise your hand if you’ve never had shoulder pain.   Indeed, shoulder pain can make even that simple act agonizing.                                                                                                           

Shoulder problems not only keep you from doing the things you enjoy but make even routine daily activities daunting and difficult.

You can find freedom and relief from shoulder pain!

The fact is, more than 70% of people will suffer the effects of shoulder pain.  You don’t have to be one of them!

In this report you’ll find how you can reduce and relieve shoulder pain…the best techniques to reverse and repair damage…and tips to strengthen and protect your shoulder’s mobility and durability.

You can’t just shrug off shoulder pain.                                                                       

Shoulder problems rarely go away on their own.  Healing Shoulder Pain will show you how to speed their departure with targeted diagnoses and tailored treatments.

You’ll discover how to accurately pinpoint the condition triggering your pain and how to effectively and safely achieve lasting pain relief and maintain flexibility and renewed range-of-motion.

You don’t have to wince—or wonder.

From the doctors of Harvard Medical School, the Report will take you from symptoms to source to solution.  You’ll learn the telltale symptoms that distinguish tendinitis from bursitis…what condition a “Popeye muscle” bulge may signal…and the sometimes unrecognized signs of a rotator cuff tear.

You’ll find the ideal imaging test to diagnose shoulder problems…why you may be increasingly vulnerable to shoulder impingement…and a condition whose symptoms women especially need to watch for.

The bottom line on the best first line treatments!

Healing Shoulder Pain will show you how to initiate pain relief and improve mobility with the least invasive procedures.  You’ll discover a proven approach to end the pain of a separated shoulder…a gentle technique to thaw a frozen shoulder…the most effective OTC medications for shoulder arthritis…a complete shoulder workout to strengthen shoulder muscles…and much more.

You’ll be in the forefront of today’s advances in shoulder surgery.

You’ll learn the important considerations when choosing a surgical procedure…what to expect before, during, and after surgery...and the breakthroughs that are lessening pain and speeding recovery.

You’ll be briefed on an outpatient procedure to relieve chronic arthritis pain…the one gold standard surgery for long-term pain relief…an arthroscopic technique to stabilize a joint after repeated dis-locations and two new technologies that are making shoulder surgery easier and safer than ever. 

Wave good-bye to shoulder pain!  Don’t wait!   Send for your copy of Healing Shoulder Pain today.  

Prepared by Harvard Health Publishing in consultation with Jon J.P. Warner, MD, Chief, Shoulder Service, Massachusetts General Hospital Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School Director, Boston Shoulder Institute. (2022)

Risk factors for developing shoulder pain

A number of factors increase your likelihood of developing shoulder pain, including age, gender, and genes. Even being overweight or smoking can play a role. Some of these factors fall within your control, while others are beyond it.

Genes: Certain shoulder problems seem to run in families. Rotator cuff injuries are more likely to occur not only in siblings, but also in cousins and other more distant relatives. The tendency to injury may be due at least in part to inherited anatomical differences in the shoulder joint. It’s also possible that family members tend to share shoulder-straining experiences—for example, if they play the same sports or have the same physically demanding occupation.

Arthritis also has a genetic component. Inherited characteristics in the shape of the acromion (a bony projection on the end of the shoulder blade) and the glenoid cavity (the socket in the shoulder joint) can increase the likelihood of shoulder degeneration and damage.

Age: Your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis increases as you age. Years of playing tennis and golf or engaging in other repetitive activities can cause minor injuries that add up over time, eventually leading to a loss of the cartilage that cushions your shoulder joints. Osteoarthritis and soft tissue conditions, such as rotator cuff injury, shoulder impingement syndrome, and frozen shoulder, are the most common causes of shoulder pain in older adults.

Gender: Women are at higher risk for shoulder pain than men. Their smaller size, coupled with generally weaker muscles, leads to greater shoulder instability. In addition, after a woman spends years playing sports or engaging in repetitive motions at work, her shoulder joints begin to loosen, putting her at increased risk for dislocation. Hormones might play a role in gender-related shoulder differences. Relaxin, the hormone released during pregnancy to ease delivery, does so by relaxing ligaments throughout the body. For these reasons, women are more likely to suffer injuries when they play sports. However, because men participate in sports more over all, they account for a greater proportion of sportsrelated shoulder injuries.

Obesity: Extra weight puts added pressure on the joints, and the heavier you are, the more weight your joints have to bear. The knees and hips carry most of this force, but shoulders can be affected, too. Obesity might also contribute to shoulder pain by triggering the release of inflammatory substances. Inflammation activates pain receptors in the area, contributing to shoulder pain.

Other medical conditions: People with certain medical disorders are more likely to develop shoulder pain. These disorders include diabetes, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

In diabetes, chronic high blood sugar leads to connective tissue damage and inflammation in the shoulders, as well as in other parts of the body. Frozen shoulder and rotator cuff injuries are particularly common in people with diabetes. Although researchers don’t know exactly why, it may have to do with impaired blood flow. Another possible culprit is the formation of damaging substances known as advanced glycation end products. These substances—which form when blood sugar is high, and sugar molecules attach abnormally to protein or fat—can make tendons stiff and weak.

Multiple sclerosis causes nerve damage, which leads to pain, weakness, and reduced function throughout the body, including the shoulders. Fibromyalgia is marked by muscle pain and tenderness at various sites, including the neck and shoulders. And inflammatory forms of arthritis produce inflammation in the joints.

Smoking: Along with the many other ill effects of cigarette smoking— among them cancer, heart disease, and lung disease— some studies have linked this harmful habit to shoulder pain, tendon injury, and an increased risk for rotator cuff tears. Smoking promotes inflammation, and it robs the blood of the oxygen needed to heal injuries in the shoulders and elsewhere in the body.

People who smoke tend to have larger rotator cuff tears, and they don’t improve as much after rotator cuff surgery as nonsmokers, according to a 2018 study in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. Another study found that smokers didn’t heal well after rotator cuff repair. Nicotine—the active component in tobacco smoke—reduces blood flow to the rotator cuff, an area of the body that already has a limited blood supply. A steady flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood is essential for maintaining a healthy rotator cuff, as well for promoting healing after surgery.

  • Why do we get shoulder pain?
  • The anatomy of the shoulder
  • Common shoulder problems
    • Bursitis
    • Tendinitis
    • Rotator cuff injury
    • Biceps tendon tears
    • Shoulder joint instability and dislocation
    • Arthritis and problems that can cause arthritis
    • Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
    • Separated shoulder (shoulder sprain)
    • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Poor posture and shoulder pain:
  • What’s the connection?
  • Diagnosing shoulder pain.
    • Which doctor should you see?
    • Medical history and exam
    • Blood tests
    • Imaging tests
    • Electrical studies
    • Creating your treatment plan
  • Conservative (nonsurgical) treatments
    • Rest and activity modification
    • Ice and heat
    • Physical therapy
  • SPECIAL SECTION: Exercises to prevent and relieve shoulder pain
  • Drug treatments
    • Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers
    • Corticosteroid injections
    • DMARDs for rheumatoid arthritis
    • Platelet-rich plasma injection.
  • Surgery
    • Arthroscopy
    • Open surgery
    • Possible complications
    • Post-surgery rehabilitation
    • Preventing future shoulder problems
  • Resources
  • Glossary


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