It’s happened to all of us at some point. We start waking up with a mysterious ache in one of our shoulders and can’t figure out what’s changed. Since we can’t remember any recent injuries or direct cause for the pain, we may start to wonder: does this mean arthritis has set in? And if so, what should I do? Does this mean I need surgery? 

Possible Reasons for Mysterious Shoulder Pain

If you haven’t recently fallen or been in an accident, and there doesn’t seem to be any logical explanation for a sudden onset of your shoulder pain, there may be a root cause other than arthritis. 

  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis. This is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain without direct injury. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis usually develops over time as the tendons and muscles that move your shoulder joint stiffen. It can be caused by sleeping on one side, keeping the shoulder in one position for long stretches of time, or participating in activities with rhythmic arm motions (such as tennis or swimming). 
  • Bone Spurs in the neck or shoulder. Despite the name, bone spurs are actually smooth outgrowths from the bone. They start small, but over time, they slowly increase in size. They’re often asymptomatic but occasionally lead to pain or loss of motion in joints.
  • Spinal Issues. Sometimes although it’s your shoulder that hurts, the real problem is that your spine has become misaligned, perhaps even leading to pinched nerves in the neck or shoulder. 
  • Bursitis. Bursitis is an extremely painful condition. Caused by inflammation of the bursae that cushion the joints, it most often occurs in the shoulders, elbows, and hips. 
  • Heart Attack. If arm and shoulder pain is ever accompanied by shortness of breath and/or chest pain, call 911 and seek medical assistance immediately. 

When Shoulder Pain Does Mean Arthritis

There are times, of course, when shoulder pain does mean arthritis. According to the CDC, 49.6% of people aged 65 years or older have reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Furthermore, the risk of developing arthritis only increases as we age, with women suffering at higher rates than their male counterparts. 

If you are diagnosed with arthritis, that doesn’t mean your prospects are bleak, and you don’t necessarily need surgery. Here at Gateway Pain Solutions, we stand by our stance that not all cases of pain require surgery:

Be sure to discuss any and all alternative courses of treatment with your physician. Symptom management or watchful waiting may be the route to go; monitoring your symptoms while holding off on surgery to see if your condition improves, worsens, or remains the same. 

Avoiding a painful and costly surgical procedure isn’t always an option, of course; but when it comes to arthritis, there are many steps you and your doctors can take together to lower your pain and increase your quality of life. 

Non-surgical treatment options to mitigate arthritis pain may include:

  • rest and/or change of activities
  • applying moist heat and/or alternating with ice
  • medication
  • physical therapy
  • corticosteroid injections 
  • diets and/or dietary supplements
  • TENS therapy

 When making decisions about your treatment plan, always be sure to consult with your doctors and with other medical experts. Though suffering chronic pain can be an overwhelming and isolating experience, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through this by yourself, and you don’t have to make all the decisions on your own.

We Can Help

Here at Southeast Pain & Spine Care, we are committed to providing you with the best possible pain management care. To hear more about our premium treatments and services, or to consult with us about your shoulder pain, please contact us today.

We look forward to serving you.