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Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
Why would I have chronic pain in my shoulder?
Matthew Carpenter, MD
|Our shoulders have a wide range of motion to perform numerous activities that require flexibility to throw, lift, push and do other tasks requiring mobility. When muscles and ligaments that hold the shoulder together are stretched beyond their normal limits, discomfort or pain results.
Rotator cuff injuries are most often caused by activities where you stretch an arm overhead for long periods or try to lift or catch heavy objects with the arm extended. You may have soreness only during certain activities or you may have pain so intense that activity and sleep are negatively impacted. Whether or not you need surgery depends on the extent of the injury.
Yes, when you suddenly increase your activity level, you may place too much stress on the shoulder. It's best to gradually increase activity.
If you sustain a high-energy injury to the shoulder and fear that you may have broken or dislocated your shoulder, seek immediate medical attention. However, if your injury isn't debilitating or your shoulder pain is due to overuse, you can first try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) therapy. If your condition doesn't improve and/or the pain continues for more than a week, see your primary care doctor or an orthopedic specialist for evaluation.
Matthew Carpenter, MD, works at Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Bismarck. Carpenter specializes in arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery, total joint arthroplasty, and orthopedic surgery and trauma. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, and completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals in Milwaukee.