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Diagnosing Chronic Shoulder Pain

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What’s commonly referred to as shoulder pain, responsible for nearly 20 percent of all musculoskeletal complaints, is actually caused by issues with a series of joints and supporting muscles and tendons. Whether the initial injury was from repeated over-exertion and strain or the result of conditions like arthritis affecting the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, an Orange County pain clinic may be able to provide welcome relief.

What Is Chronic Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain becomes chronic when it lasts beyond six months. Rotator cuff injuries, shoulder instability, joint problems, and conditions such as adhesive capsulitis, or “frozen shoulder,” and arthritis are common causes of ongoing shoulder pain. While some treatments may ease symptoms, pain from any of these conditions, which is often aggravated by movement or inflammation, tends to return. Chronic pain, in general, increasingly impacts the nervous system as it progresses to the point where pain moves beyond the original source.

Diagnosing Lingering Shoulder Pain

The first step in managing chronic shoulder pain is making an attempt to determine the primary source of the discomfort. In some cases, underlying conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure may make joint pain affecting one or both shoulders even worse. Pain management specialists take several factors into account when attempting to positively determine a source of shoulder pain, including a patient’s medical history and previous attempts at pain relief. Patients are typically asked to make various movements to pinpoint what actions cause the most discomfort.

What to Expect from Pain Management Techniques

The overall goal of pain management is reduce pain enough to restore quality of life on both a personal and professional level. It’s a goal often achieved with the use of certain medications and physical therapy techniques. An effort is often made to limit the use of prescription drugs to reduce the risk of addiction and focus more on non-drug management methods such as conditioning and strength training. Keeping the three-part deltoid muscle and the eight muscles linked to the humerus, clavicle, and scapula that support the shoulders strong can relieve pain and minimize or prevent further discomfort.

Effective management of shoulder pain often involves a combination of treatments ranging from the modification of activities likely to trigger pain to exercises to maintain flexibility. Patients are encouraged to actively participate in the management of their pain by reporting any new discomfort or changes in how they experience lingering discomfort in the shoulder area.