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Don't shrug off lingering shoulder pain

Bryn Mawr Hospital October 22, 2020 General Wellness

You can shrug your shoulders at a lot of things in life, but don’t ignore shoulder aches for long. 

Shoulder problems don’t just happen to baseball and tennis players. They occur among people of all ages and activity levels, and they can be serious, reports Gerald R. Williams, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in shoulder surgery at Bryn Mawr Hospital, part of Main Line Health. 

The shoulder is the most moveable joint in our bodies. That places it at risk for injury as well as everyday wear and tear. There are many types and causes of shoulder problems. Some, such as a dislocated shoulder, result from trauma such as a hard fall. Others, such as rotator cuff tears or bursitis, develop from physical conditions that tend to be more common as we age.  

You might successfully treat a mildly sore shoulder at home with over-the counter pain medicine, ice packs and rest. But if your pain is severe or doesn’t go away in a week or two, contact your doctor.  

Main Line Health offers a range of diagnostic tests for shoulder pain, including state-of-the-art MRIs and arthroscopy. Fortunately, surgery isn’t often required, reports Dr. Williams. “Most people don’t put a lot of stress on their shoulders. Many shoulder issues, particularly those that are degenerative in nature, respond well to rehabilitation,” he explains. The physical therapy team at Bryn Mawr Rehab Outpatient Network offers rehabilitation care for shoulder pain and injuries.  

When surgery is necessary, you’ll receive a recommendation tailored to your condition, including the most advanced shoulder replacements for patients who need them.  

As with so many aspects of health, prevention pays. Exercising your shoulders regularly helps keep them flexible. Just be careful not to overload on weights, and avoid putting your arms in awkward positions.  

Especially among women, bones tend to become weaker with age. Your doctor can advise you on how best to maintain bone health and avoid fractures. 

Dealing with shoulder pain? Schedule an appointment with a shoulder surgeon at Main Line Health.