Shoulder Pain

The pain you’re experiencing in the shoulder can be caused by a number of different conditions, largely due to the complexity of this particular joint. Bones can become displaced, muscles can tear and tendons, ligaments and other tissues can suffer from an unusual amount of friction, leading to pain, stiffness and even decreases in range of motion or strength.

For some athletes, the shoulder pain is a result of bursitis. This is especially common in baseball players. The repetitive movement used to throw the ball can eventually irritate and inflame the fluid-filled pads that cushion the bones and tendons in your shoulder. Resting the affected shoulder often improves the condition, but you can also apply ice to reduce swelling and take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, to ease the pain.

Athletes can also suffer from tendinitis of the shoulder, especially when it comes to swimming and playing baseball. Like bursitis, the repetitive movements of a sport can lead to irritation and inflammation. But instead of the bursa, one or more of the tendons in the shoulder are affected. Treatment usually revolves around resting the affected shoulder as well as applying ice to relieve swelling.

Impingement syndrome is another condition that can affect the tendons in the shoulder of an athlete. But with this condition, the tendon is pinched against bone, so movement causes it to rub. This added friction irritates and inflames the tendon, resulting in pain. Impingement may also affect the shoulder muscle as it moves against the shoulder blade. Resting and icing the affected shoulder is the most common form of treatment, but you may also benefit from medical attention, particularly when self-care fails to improve your discomfort.

Athletes involved in swimming, baseball, tennis and archery are sometimes impacted by a rotator cuff injury. In this situation, the repetitive motions can cause stress to one or more of the muscles and tendons that hold the arm in the shoulder. This strain irritates the connective fibers, leading to inflammation and even tearing. Though resting, icing and heating the affected shoulder can help, it isn’t uncommon to need some type of exercise therapy to help heal the injury.

Another condition affecting athletes is instability of the shoulder, which is often seen when the joint moves out of its normal position, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. To correct this condition, your doctor will likely suggest exercises to strengthen the muscles and tendons of the shoulder to better support the joint.

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