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Many people suffer from shoulder problems and are reluctant to seek care, fearing that they will be told that they need surgery to fix the issue. In addition, most everyone has heard horror stories of painful, miserable experiences treating a shoulder, which further substantiates their fear. The real truth is that most shoulder problems are fixable without surgery. However, thanks to arthroscopic surgery, outpatient procedures are much easier. Most importantly, delaying treatment may cause something that was fixable with simple measures to require more invasive procedures.
There are many causes of shoulder pain and finding the correct diagnosis is paramount to developing a treatment plan that will result in resolution of the symptoms. Potential reasons include rotator cuff injury or inflammation, arthritis, Acromioclavicular joint problems, instability or tears of the labrum, frozen shoulder, or even a pinched nerve in the neck. Certain features can help distinguish between these potential causes and discussing these features with your physician will help him or her arrive at the correct origin. A good physical examination and x-ray analysis is usually sufficient to diagnose the problem.
For all of these shoulder issues surgery may be needed if the simple measures fail to resolve the problems. The surgery is much different than it used to be when I first started my training 28 years ago. It is now arthroscopic, performed through three or four small holes with the aid of a camera. It is outpatient and the pain and discomfort associated with the procedure is much less than it used to be. Anesthesia personnel are more skilled in performing blocks now, which helps to reduce the postoperative pain immensely.
It is important to realize that ignoring the issue may allow the problem to escalate. If detected and treated early, most problems can be resolved with simple measures. For example, inflammation in the rotator cuff can be corrected with proper treatment, but if allowed to continue, the inflammation can eat a hole into the tendon, and surgery is needed. Because there are many potential causes of shoulder pain, seeking treatment early, getting a good physical examination, and arriving at the proper diagnosis is paramount. With prudent treatment, your experience can be pleasant, not intimidating, and successful. When it comes to treating your shoulder pain at Coordinated Health – We Got This.