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How Repetitive Motion Fuels Shoulder Pain

How Repetitive Motion Fuels Shoulder Pain

Repetitive motion injuries are incredibly common, especially in athletes. In fact, repetitive motion injuries account for half of all athletic-related injuries. But you don’t have to participate in sports for this type of injury to strike, because any activity that involves repeated movements can cause chronic pain.

At aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, our board-certified orthopedic and pain management specialist, Brian K. Rich, MD, provides comprehensive care for a range of painful orthopedic conditions, including shoulder pain. Learn how repetitive movement triggers ongoing shoulder pain.

Anatomy of the shoulder

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, allowing for a broad range of motion. Your shoulder is made up of three bones, the upper arm (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle).

The head (ball) of your upper arm fits into the socket of the shoulder blade. Muscles and tendons called the rotator cuff work together to keep your arm positioned properly in the shoulder socket.

As a ball-and-socket joint, your shoulder can perform a lot of movement, from moving your arm above your head to stretching your arm out to your side. 

Common repetitive motion injuries

Shoulder tendonitis and bursitis are the most common repetitive motion injuries that affect the shoulder.

Shoulder tendonitis

Tendons are made of tough, fibrous tissue that play a key role in connecting muscles to bones. They’re essential to joint movement, and they support your weight. Even though tendons are very strong, they’re vulnerable to irritation from repetitive movement. 

Activities such as swinging a tennis racket, throwing a baseball, swimming, and even shoveling dirt when gardening can irritate the tendons of the shoulder and cause tendonitis.

Shoulder bursitis

Bursae are thin sacs that lubricate and provide cushion in areas of your body to prevent friction. Repetitive motion can irritate the bursa in the shoulder and cause inflammation. When there is too much friction, the bursa can swell, thicken, and produce more fluid to compensate, leading to pain (bursitis).

Symptoms of repetitive motion injuries

Symptoms of repetitive motion injuries can vary widely. However, pain is an almost universal symptom. 

Other symptoms of repetitive motion injuries of the shoulder are:

You shouldn't ignore shoulder pain. It's typical to assume it will go away with some rest, but that's not always the case. You need medical assessment and treatment to alleviate pain and prevent further damage. Left untreated, repetitive motion injuries may get worse.

If your pain doesn't improve after a few days of rest, it's wise to contact an orthopedic specialist like Dr. Rich who can perform a comprehensive evaluation to understand the source and extent of your shoulder pain.

Treatment options for repetitive motion injuries

At aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, we’re pleased to offer the latest advancements in pain management. After a formal diagnosis, Dr. Rich works closely with you to address your shoulder issues.

Your individualized treatment plan depends on several factors, including the specific nature of your repetitive motion injury and the severity of your symptoms. Treatment usually begins with conservative, minimally invasive approaches.

Physical therapy to improve shoulder strength and flexibility along with altering your daily activities can help reduce shoulder pain. Dr. Rich may recommend temporarily immobilizing your shoulder joint in a sling. This can rest your shoulder to help it heal.

Joint injections can provide fast pain relief. Corticosteroids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are commonly used to treat shoulder pain. Steroid injections rapidly soothe irritated joints and relieve pain. 

Don’t put off treating shoulder pain. Joint injuries that aren’t properly addressed can come back to haunt you years later in the form of arthritis. We can help you get started on the path to less pain and better shoulder function. Give our team a call or book online to schedule a visit with Dr. Rich at one of our clinics in Southlake, Texas, or Lawton, Oklahoma.

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