Shoulder pain is the third most common presenting musculoskeletal problem in primary care. The pain can originate in the joint itself, or from the surrounding muscles, ligaments or tendons. It can be aggravated with certain activities or movement of the arm or shoulder. Causes include; shoulder strain, over exertion, tendonitis, arthritis, joint instability, dislocation, fracture of associated bones, frozen shoulder, nerve compression and other diseases. Stress is also a cause for shoulder pain.
Treatment for Shoulder Pain
Conventional management of shoulder pain initially is through rest and reducing any contributing factors. Pain relief medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy and steroid joint injections. Where appropriate surgery may be required.
Integrative & Complementary medicine
There are a number of therapies that can be beneficial for shoulder pain. The most effective treatment depends on the cause of the pain.
Acupuncture is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of pain. It is a drug-free alternative option and over a period of time effective in managing shoulder pain. Acupuncture stimulates muscles, nerves and other local tissue to release endorphins and other neurohumoral factors changing the way pain is perceived by the brain and spinal cord, thus reducing pain symptoms. Additionally, it reduces inflammation by releasing vascular and immunomodulating factors, as well as enhances micro blood circulation which helps to disperse inflammatory products.
Nutrition: It may be a surprise for people to learn that good nutrition is important when managing musculoskeletal pain.Bones, muscles, ligaments and other structures in the shoulder need good level of nutrients to keep them strong and functioning well. This includes; calcium, vitamin A, B, C, D, iron and magnesium.
Aromatherapy & Massage can be very effective in treating shoulder pain related to strain, muscular tension, fatigue or spasm. Regular massage will help to re-educate and relax the tense muscles. Many of the essential oils help to reduce pain symptoms, e.g. lavender, marjoram, rosemary and eucalyptus.
Other therapy: Chiropractic, osteopathy, exercise, qi gong, yoga, heat therapy and relaxation techniques can be very useful to reduce pain symptoms. Herbal treatments with anti-inflammatory supplements such as devil’s claw and white willow bark have shown to be effective in symptom management. Other self-management measures include improvement in posture, stretching and any strain.